Dining Table Buying Guide
As one of the most well-used pieces of furniture in the home, and arguably the most important, when it comes to buying a dining table there are many different factors to consider. The saying “buy well, buy once” couldn’t be truer – a dining table is certainly an investment piece of furniture, but if you buy the right one, it can last a lifetime.
Considered the centre of any home, a dining table shouldn’t just be picked to match the chairs it goes with, there’s so much more to it than that. We know it can seem quite daunting, especially if you don’t know where to start. That’s why we’ve pulled together our dining table buying guide with all the essentials you need to know.
From the best materials for dining tables to the different sizes, finishes, shapes and styles available, we have you covered.
- Best Material For Dining Tables
- Choosing Your Dining Room Table Shape
- Choosing Your Dining Room Table Style
- Choosing The Correct Table Supports
- Decide Your Table Colour
- Consider Your Application
- Where To Buy Dining Tables
Best Material For Dining Tables
Whether you want a glass, marble, metal or solid wood, the possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing the right material for your dining table. However, there are a few things you should take into consideration before making that big purchase.
Glass-top dining tables work well with many interiors, giving off an appearance of elegance and sophistication, perfect for modern and contemporary houses. As well as being easy to clean, glass tables are perfect for those working with a smaller space; the transparent surface reflects light helping to create the illusion of space. However, glass isn’t as sturdy as other materials so it’s important that you make sure the glass has been tempered. This means the glass has been chemically and thermally treated so it is more resistant to scratches and is less likely to shatter if knocked over, like normal glass. As glass is such a fragile material it can be a safety hazard, which may not be suitable if you have young children in the home.
Marble has been used in flooring for many years but is becoming a popular choice for tabletops too. Naturally beautiful, marble table tops have a timeless appeal and are sure to be a show-stopping piece of furniture in your home. However, whilst marble can be durable if cared for properly and thoroughly, it is perceptible to stains and scratches. Regular sealing is also necessary to provide some form of protection, although unfortunately this doesn’t prevent scratching.
Metal tables are commonly found in restaurants and kitchens, however, more and more people are opting for this unique table-top in the home too. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but a metal table is perfect for those looking to create an industrial-chic design in the home. Metal has lots of great benefits – it is a very durable material and super easy to clean. However, perhaps one of the biggest issues with metal table tops is how it absorbs heat. If any hot dishes are placed on the table this could cause the metal to heat up, so it’s important to use placemats and coasters. You’ll also need to make sure that the table is kept out of direct sunlight, as the metal top will absorb the heat from the sun’s rays.
Solid-wood is perhaps one of the most popular choices when it comes to dining tables, and it’s not without reason. Wood is classic, durable and is easy to repair if it gets damaged. Not only that, but it’s also incredibly beautiful. There are so many different variations of wood to choose from, whether it’s Pine, Walnut or Oak. Each piece of wood has a natural grain that shows character and depth, and as no two pieces of wood are the same you get a unique table that you won’t find anywhere else. However, when it comes to solid-wood tables, you need to be careful of moisture. If drink or food is spilt, it must be wiped up immediately as it can eventually lead the wood to split and swell overtime – be especially wary of watermarks left by cups!
There are three main factors involved in finding the right solid-wood tabletop; durability, grain and cost. Once you have listed out the requirements for your table, you can then make a decision that will best suit your needs. Read our more detailed guide on everything you should know before buying a wooden table here.
Choosing Your Dining Room Table Shape
The best dining table for you will be one that not only fits into your space but also has a style you’ll love for years to come. Whether you have a traditional dining room, an open-plan kitchen or a kitchen-diner, dining tables are often the focal point of the room so it’s important to get this piece of furniture right.
Before you start looking at tables, there are a few things you need to do first. Start by measuring the space around the room – the last thing you want is to buy a table too big or too small to fit into your dining room or kitchen. The general rule of thumb is to leave 42-48 inches between your table and walls to allow people to get in and out of their seat comfortably. Next, work out how many people you want to fit around the table. Each person needs approx. 2 feet of eating space so this is a good indicator of how big your table will need to be.
Round tables are a great option for those with limited space, such as apartments or flats. They can fit into tight spots and provide an intimate dining experience where everyone can see each other. Keep in mind that this shape isn’t ideal for larger gatherings or for growing families.
A square-shaped dining table is a good option for looking for a table to fit into a square space. Again, this is perfect for those with small spaces and creates an intimate dining experience. However, if you do have more than four people sitting down for dinner at one time, a square table might feel slightly cramped.
As most dining rooms are rectangular in shape, it’s no surprise that rectangular dining tables are the most popular choice of table. It leaves more room for traffic flow in the room and allows for over four people to be seated. If you’re looking for a rectangular table but worried that your space isn’t big enough, it’s worth considering having a bench instead of chairs on one side, or both sides, of the table. Benches are a great way to add extra seating around a table without having to compromise on your desired shape and style. These can then be tucked under the table to allow for extra room whilst the table isn’t in use.
Oval tables are very similar to rectangular tables; they have the same linear simplicity but the rounded edges create a sense of intimacy similar to that of a round table. The curved edges help to create an illusion of space which may be an ideal solution for those working with a narrow room, but still want to fit a large number of people around the table.
In fact, when looking to purchase a table, it’s a good idea to look ahead. As an investment piece of furniture, a table should last a lifetime, and it can be costly if you have to keep replacing it when your circumstances change. It may be that you’re not looking for a large table right now, however, if your family is growing, you like to regularly have guests over for dinner or perhaps you’re thinking of moving house in the future, an extension table with a self-storing leaf might be the answer. This offers the flexibility of using the smaller table every day which can then be extended as and when you need additional space around the table. And, most importantly, it can work with pretty much all of the table shapes.
Choosing Your Dining Room Table Style
Once you’ve decided on the shape and size of your dining table, the next step is to choose the style. Have a look at your house and see what you think will fit best with the décor. If you like an industrial design lookout for steel frames, if you like a rustic, modern look, a reclaimed wood dining table should work nicely. There are many different styles of tables, so here we’ve put a round-up of our favourites.
Live Edge Table
Live Edge, sometimes known as natural edge, is a style of furniture that incorporates the natural beauty of the tree in its design. The edge of the table is left untouched and carefully preserved for a raw look which adds character and authenticity. No two pieces of Live Edge furniture will ever look the same, which makes it ideal for those looking for a true statement table where the wood is the focal point.
Industrial Style Table
Industrial design is certainly not a new trend but thanks to its surge in popularity over recent years, it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere soon. Industrial style décor refers to fuss-free minimal décor that takes inspiration from the lofty look of warehouses. It involves using raw materials as a key focus in the home, such as brick walls, metal and wood. Combining strong steel legs and a solid-wood surface, industrial-style dining tables will add character and style to your dining area.
Rustic Farmhouse Style Table
Inspired by rural living and farmhouses spaces, rustic farmhouse style tables have been around for centuries and are still a popular table choice. Full of character and charm, it’s no surprise that the demand for rustic dining tables isn’t slowing down. You may think this is just a style reserved for those living out in the countryside, but you’d be wrong. It’s a popular interior trend that works beautifully for most styles of homes. Typically, rustic farmhouse tables have a weathered or textured wood surface that creates a vintage-style look. In fact, as the whole table is made of solid wood, it’s easy to paint and customise the colour of your table to perfectly match your interiors.
Reclaimed Wood Table
There’s no denying that people are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint and the desire to shop ‘eco-conscious’ is increasing. Put simply, Reclaimed wood is wood that has been reused or recycled, preventing the need for further trees to be cut down. Not only is each plank of wood beautiful, thanks to the unique knots and rings, but the grain is also denser, making it the perfect option for a dining table. This is because it has already been exposed to hot and cold atmospheres which means it has already dried out and won’t expand or contract like new wood.
Choosing The Correct Table Supports
You’ve chosen the shape, size and style of the table but another element of the dining table you need to consider are the table legs. There are plenty of different options when it comes to table legs, all of which can affect both the functionality of the table and the finished design. So, what should you look out for?
There are a few things to consider when choosing your table supports. A standard table generally tends to be between 26– 30 inches high so you’ll need to work out how high you want your table – make sure you also consider the thickness of your tabletop as this will also add to the overall height, and whether you want to include drawers.
It’s also important to remember that the choice of table leg will depend on how much weight it needs to bear from the tabletop, as well as how comfortable it will be for people sitting at the table. The legs must provide enough strength and stability for the table but also be functional. If you already have your chairs picked out, you’ll also need to take into account where the legs are placed. If you want the legs to be a focal point of the table and be seen, then don’t plan on having chairs at the head of the table as you’ll want to avoid diners banging their knees.
Whether traditional, contemporary or a bespoke design completely unique to you, the right table legs will really bring your overall design together. Here’s a couple of our favourites…
A-frame legs are perfect for adding a solid, industrial look to any table or bench. These sturdy box section legs can handle large and heavy loads, perfect for a solid-wood, marble or metal table-top.
X-frame dining tables have an industrial yet modern style. Its striking shape makes a remarkable centrepiece in any interior setting.
Create a modern yet classic look with square legs. The sturdy, steel construction provides a solid base for tables and benches.
Vintage Cast Iron Steel Base
Recreate a vintage industrial aesthetic in the home with a cast iron steel base, for a completely unique look.
Decide Your Table Colour
When it comes to deciding your dining table colour, it can be as difficult as choosing what colour to paint a room. With many different options on the market, it can be hard to know what colour to pick.
Light-coloured furniture can help a small room feel bigger, as it doesn’t stand out as much as dark furniture does. It goes extremely well when paired with dark, bold wall colours and fabrics. That being said, light furniture might not work as well in a big open space, as it may feel too open. Darker furniture is a great way of adding warmth into your interiors, and when contrasted against neutral walls gives a sophisticated and contemporary look.
For those opting for a solid-wood tabletop, a wood stain can transform the look of your table. Using a stain is a great way to emphasise the wood grain of your chosen top and instantly add character. There are many different colours you can choose from when it comes to wood stain, with many replicating the natural colour of the wood. You can also get coloured stains, such as a grey wash or whitewash, which will work for those looking for something more modern and quirky.
Remember, it’s not just the tabletop you should think about when it comes to colour. You can also choose a custom colour for your legs to match the colour scheme of your room – you can keep it simple with legs that match perfectly, exposed raw metal legs for an industrial feel, or go for a bold, bright colour that really contrasts against your tabletop.
For those still stuck on what colour to choose, try picking out a colour that’s already part of your decor. Whether it’s in the flooring, on the walls or even your kitchen cupboards, this is a surefire way to make sure your table looks great in your home. Staple hues like black, grey, brown and white are a great option for a timeless look that will always be on-trend.
Whatever colour choice you make, the decision should reflect how you want yourself, and others, to feel when they’re sat at the table. Whether it’s energised, relaxed or simply at home.
Consider Your Application
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to think about the purpose your dining table will serve. Will it be to host a dinner party from time to time, or will it be a central part of your home, where dinner is eaten every day, work is done and children do their homework? If the latter, look for tables made with durable materials such as solid wood, and step-away from glass tables. Solid-wood tables such as oak or maple tend to be a bit heavier and denser, which is ideal for tables in constant use, whilst tables made from engineered woods such as plywoods and MDF are never as strong as hardwood and can get easily damaged.
If you tend to move around frequently, you may also want to consider a lighter material for your table that’s easier to transport. Marble for example is extremely heavy, however, a pine table is a lot lighter and will be a lot easier to lift. This also applies if you like to rearrange your furniture from time to time too.
And finally, consider where the table will be put and if you need floor protection. Any reputable supplier should include plastic caps on their legs to ensure the flooring isn’t scratched, especially if the table is going on laminate or wooden flooring which can get easily damaged.
Where To Buy Dining Tables
Buying a dining table is a big decision and it starts by choosing the right seller. When you begin your search, it can be daunting with so many different companies offering a wide variety of options. We’ve pulled together a checklist to make sure you pick a supplier you have confidence in.
- Make sure they are transparent with where their materials come from. As more and more consumers are driven to buy furniture that sustainably made, it’s important that businesses can prove their materials are economically sourced, with any wood fully certified by PEFC.
- Choose a supplier that can source both your tabletop and table legs. This will allow you to design your bespoke dining table that fits your vision perfectly. Any good supplier will be able to offer recommendations based on your personal needs, from helping you decide what material tabletop to choose, down to what legs will best suit your space.
- Make sure they offer installation. There’s nothing worse than ordering a new dining table and finding out they don’t install it in the home
- No hidden costs. We’ve all been there – you’ve found your dream product and when you’ve gone to checkout, there’s a list of hidden costs added to the bill. Any good supplier will provide an accurate and precise quote upfront, so there are no nasty surprises further down the line.
- Picking a dining table is a big decision and can take a long time. It’s likely you’ll have lots of questions, and might even change your mind once or twice. That’s why it’s important you pick a supplier that cares as much about your table as you do and will be on hand to help you throughout the whole process from design right through to installation.