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Table Buyer's Guide

What Should be Considered When Buying a Table?


In need of new tables for your space? The tables you buy can make a big difference in the functionality and usability of the room. If you’re buying a table for a cafeteria, school, conference room, classroom, office space, science lab, computer lab, or library, consider your needs. Ask what capacity the tables need to accommodate, the specific uses for the tables, and the space you’ll have for the tables before you buy.

View our Table Capacity Chart

View our Table Layout Guide

What Are the Common Types of Tabletop Materials?

Tabletops come in a variety of different materials depending on the table’s purpose. The most common tabletop materials are particle board core with laminate tops, plywood core with laminate, blow-molded plastic, ABS plastic, solid wood, resins, and welded fibers. Consider the durability and longevity of your tabletop materials before you make your purchase. Make sure the material is appropriate for your intended use.


High Pressure Laminate (HPL) Tabletops

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 are available in 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 Tables

Particleboard-Core Tabletops

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.



Plywood Core Tables


Plywood-Core Tabletops

These reliable tabletops have a plywood core at the center and can have an 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 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.


Blow Molded Tabletops

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 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 Tables


ABS Plastic Tabletops

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 Plastic Tables


How to Determine How Tall a Table Should Be?

The height of your table can be a major consideration when determining which type to buy. Tables come in both fixed and adjustable height options. Consider the age and average height of the people who will be using the tables, whether they need to be ADA accessible, and their intended purpose.  For example, Science tables should be tall enough to accommodate the movement of users. The purpose of the tables can determine the most appropriate height.


What Are Common Table Leg Options?

A table’s strength and durability are only as good as the sturdiness of its legs. Table legs come in a variety of materials and height options, as well as the number of legs and how they support the table. The most common table leg options are the standard four-leg classroom table legs, T-shaped pedestal tables, H-shaped, X-shaped, folding legs, and stationary legs. Common table leg materials are wood and metal.


How Do You Determine the Necessary Capacity Needs for a Table?

Table capacity refers to how many people can use the table at once. Determining the necessary capacity is paramount to purchase the correct table size and layout for your space. Table capacity depends on the average number of users, space constraints, alternate uses, weight capacity concerns, and the size of your tabletop. Seating capacity depends on the purpose of the table and the amount of space each user will require. Figure out the number of users and the tables’ functions before you can determine capacity needs.


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