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Table Buyer's Guide

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Activity tables and folding tables are two of our most popular products. Why? Because they are so useful for a number of educational, corporate, and social applications. This table buying guide is designed to help you understand tabletop materials, leg options, and seating capacities for various table sizes.

Click here to enlarge our suggested Table Capacity Chart.

Click to enlarge our Table Capacity Chart

Types of Tabletops

High Pressure Laminate (HPL): HPL tops are created by a two step method of bonding the finish and back layers to the core materials using glue and pressure. This process forms a table surface that is extremely durable and will not bubble up when exposed to water. Tables with HPL tops offer a variety of color choices and have a completely smooth finish. This is an added plus for classrooms activity tables, which would include writing and art projects.

Particleboard-Core: Particleboard is composed of wood chips glued together under pressure to create a high density board. Particleboard tables can range from 3/4" to 1 1/4" in thickness and generally have a high pressure laminate surface. Due to their higher density, they weigh more that plywood-core or plastic tables and are best used in spaces that require little movement. Particleboard's weight anchors them more securely in place and is a reliable standard for classroom activity tables.

Example of Particleboard Core Cut Away

Plywood-Core: These reliable tabletops have a plywood core at the center and can have a HPL or a natural stained surface. They are lighter than particleboard, which makes them much easier to set up and break down. The lighter the weight of the table, the less likely damage can occur from slight impacts or bumps that happen when moving the tables or during the initial delivery. Plywood-core folding tables are perfect for banquet rooms or fellowship halls that require frequent movement and offsite storage.

Plywood Core Table Cut Away Example

Blow Molded: Likely the most inexpensive tabletop option, blow molded plastic resin tables are extremely lightweight and can be easily set up and stored. Often the material found on common folding tables, their plastic surface can take food spills and other messes and can be easily cleaned. Blow molded tables do have a slightly textured surface and this should be taken in account when placing these tables in areas that will be used for note taking or other writing exercises.

Blow Molded Plastic Resin Table Example

ABS Plastic: ABS is a thermoplastic that is lightweight and durable enough to be used to make football helmets. ABS plastic tables have interior framing made of plywood, steel, honeycomb or more ABS plastic. The interior frame provides superior strength not found in blow molded plastic tables. These tables also have a slightly textured surface but generally weigh a little more and offer more stability and strength than blow molded plastic resin tables.

ABS Table Cut Away Example

Table Height

Tables are offered in a fixed or adjustable height option. If a table has a fixed height, it is most likely to be 29 inches to 30 inches high, which is appropriate for adults or grades 5th-12th. Adjustable height tables usually move in one-inch increments for added flexibility when working with children or youth. Most adjustable activity tables offer a shorter height range just for smaller children, and we also have a full selection of kid's folding tables.


When choosing a table, consider the standard four-leg classroom table, the T-Leg pedestal table, and the folding table. Each of these leg styles have unique footprints that take up space differently underneath the table. For instance, the T-leg pedestal tables have free space at the corners for leg comfort, but may prohibit someone from being able sit along the smaller ends of the table. The legs and frames of a table are often made of steel. Remember the lower the gauge of steel, the stronger the table.

Table Capacity

So how many people can fit at a table? This all depends on a table's purpose and the amount of space each person using the table may require. The smaller the chair, the greater the seating capacity around a table. You will be able to seat more children around a table, than a group of adult professionals. At the same time, if those children are all working on large art projects, they will require more space than children just sitting and taking notes.

Seating capacity depends on the size of the person and the size of the chair. Full size student stack chairs are usually 18"-21" wide. If you are using a standard folding chair for seating, then plan for 18" width per seat. Allowing for a liberal 26 inches per person gets the "comfortable" designation, while allowing a tight 20 inches per person get you the "maximum" designation.

Download our free suggested Table Capacity Chart.
Download Free Table Capacity Chart
This free guide will give you a basic understanding of table shapes and capacities, however, knowing your table and chair dimensions is critical. Contact our experienced customer service team for information on a specific table via live chat, by phone at 800-599-6636, or email us at [email protected].

Top Brands for Tables:
Virco Midwest Folding Correll Smith System Scholar Craft

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