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Cafeteria Table Buyer's Guide

The cafeteria is more than just a room where adolescents or coworkers eat in the middle of the day. Cafeteria tables in schools, churches, and workplaces need to encourage community. They need to provide adequate seating and be usable for visitors as well as children. Many schools turn their lunch rooms into an auditorium. Will your cafeteria tables support all the needs of a multi-use room in a school or other building?

Cafeteria Table Buyer's Guide

If you’re looking for a great cafeteria table solution, you’ll need to think about how the space in your cafeteria or multi-use room will be used and base your decisions on durability, cost, and other factors. Let’s take a closer look.


Cafeteria tables stand up to a lot of abuse. They are played on, under, and around whether the rules allow for such behavior or not. Many schools also provide after school programs that are housed in the cafeteria and provide a space for art projects, snack time, and homework. Common materials for cafeteria tables include steel, laminate, vinyl, particleboard, and plastic. These materials are chosen for their durability over time.

Types of Cafeteria Tables

Construction differs depending on community needs. For cleaning and to make room for other uses of the space, many cafeteria table designs feature a folding capability. When folded, the tables and seating can all be stored neatly in a different room or against a cafeteria wall. Almost all cafeteria tables sold today feature a folding capability to provide as much flexibility as possible.

Rectangular - One of the most popular cafeteria table options is the rectangular table that fits together with bench style seating or swiveling stools. Some rectangular table options are also available without seating, which can provide additional multi-use functionality in the space. This construction allows for multiple people to sit together at once and is ideal for seating several individuals in one area. Convertible bench tables are split down the center to create a small section that can be slid against a wall or set up in rows of seating for other room functions, making them more versatile than their rectangular folding cousins.

Rectangular Cafeteria Tables

Round - The other commonly seen cafeteria table shape is circular. These tables may come with built in seating or may simply provide a folding functionality without a seating option. Circular tables are also available with stool seating options as well as curved bench seating.

Round Cafeteria Tables

Elliptical- More rarely, you may see oval shaped tables with or without built-in seating options. These elliptical tables may not provide as much seating at once, but can make a room’s atmosphere appear more cohesive and less like a conventional cafeteria.

Oval Cafeteria Tables

Other Shapes – Still other options for cafeteria seating may provide a restaurant environment with booths or built in bucket cluster seating or benches with a square rather than circular design. These other shapes are well suited as an accompaniment for some of the more traditional styles of seating. Octagonal seating allows for individuals seated at the table to have their own table-front spot, more or less. For small children, this design can prevent fights over personal space.

Octagonal Cafeteria Tables

Other Considerations

Many cafeteria environments will feature a variety of seating options. Whether the design features designated areas for teachers, guests, employees, or students, you’ll find that combination rooms provide the most functionality. Consider the most comfortable options and the seating capacity that you will need to fill when the room is at maximum occupancy. This information will help you determine which seating styles will best serve your room’s needs.

Safety - Look for folding tables that have some form of lock or safety feature to prevent the risk of injury when folding tables into their compact positions. The locking feature and safe closing designs keep children and adults from accidentally being injured when moving tables or accidentally engaging the folding system while seated at the table.

Movement - Casters are a must-have for most cafeteria tables. Without easy-moving and lockable casters, the heavy folding tables may be difficult to move around the room. If you do not have tables with casters, consider your plan for moving the tables or if the tables will remain stationary. For cleaning purposes, casters can play a very important role in the cafeteria’s health score.

Color - Depending on the brand, you may have the option of choosing a variety of colors for your cafeteria tables. Choosing fun and bright colors is a way to show team spirit and promote positivity in the cafeteria environment. Accent a table with colorful trim, a colored barstool seat, or a mixture of colors all over.

Warranty – If a table doesn’t meet your needs or something goes wrong with the construction during your first several years of ownership, a warranty can help prevent the excessive cost of an early replacement. Many warranties cover 15 years and will replace all broken or malfunction parts. Ask your representative about specific warranty details for each manufacturer.

Age of Users – Cafeteria tables may serve all ages or may be designed for elementary or high school students only. Make sure that you consider the age of the primary user to select seating to meet the needs of average heights. Cafeteria table designers make seating and tables specifically designed for user ages from preschool on up to standard adult heights.

Cafeteria Table Stool Access Space

Consider the size of the person accessing the fixed stools or benches on tables. If you have concerns, perhaps a folding cafeteria table paired with loose, stackable seating is a better option.

Finding the Right Table

However your cafeteria or multi-use room is used, we know you’ll find the right table for the right price through Worthington Direct. Please browse through our page for cafeteria tables and reach out to our live chat for more information about finding the table solution to meet your needs. Our furniture professionals know and understand school and office settings so that we can help you come up with personalized solutions. Whether you need one replacement table or seating for 500, we’re ready to bring you the best choices in durability and design.

Top Brands for Cafeteria Tables:
NPS AmTab Virco KI Barricks
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