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A Comprehensive Guide To Buying a Dining Table

Written by Andrew | Last Updated 2019-11-25

About Andrew

Not only a home designer, Andrew is also the founder of BFA. He always have full enthusiasm for the industry and his job, and he enjoys to share some new ideas to others. His professional advice can help you choose furniture better and home style which fits you.
A Comprehensive Guide To Buying a Dining Table

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Because your home dining table will be the centerpiece around which your family gathers for meals for years to come and celebrates holidays and other occasions together, buying a new dining table can be a very personal experience for many people. Also, since your dining table will likely be used for more than just eating, choosing one is not something that should be done lightly.

This post is designed to help you find the right table for your home. We break down the various shapes, construction materials, and styles that are available today for dining tables. Some tables come with modern and minimalist design; others blend together natural wood and high tech glass; yet others have folding leaves at either end. The options, designs, styles, and price ranges are virtually limitless, so read on below to learn how to narrow down your choices and find the table that is right for you.

Shape

Speaking generally, the shape of your dining table is likely going to be your first consideration. Of course, your budget and the space you have for your new table will also impact your ultimate decision, but people like to buy things that they like to buy, and they like to buy things that look nice to them. That is why the issue of shape is what we are starting off with.

Here are some of the more common shapes from which you can choose for your new dining table.

Rectangular

Rectangular dining tables are hugely popular and are pretty much the standard. Dining tables made in this shape are highly functional and allows for a wide variety of styles to be created.

Square

Square dining tables are growing in popularity. Featuring a simple and straightforward design with four legs that are equidistant from one other, square dining tables are perfect for seating four individuals or for use in smaller spaces.

Round

With a round dining table, you can shift your seating positions around. Circular dining tables often come with hinged leaves that expand to give your table more surface area and an oval shape.

Oval

Oval-shaped dining tables are also fast becoming a popular choice in the dining table space. They allow you to create an aesthetic that features the sensuous curves that generally only come with a circular table with a longer surface area that gives you more space for seating your diners and serving items.

Construction Material

You will interact most with the tabletop of your dining table. That said, it is probably the most important part of the construction of any table (as long as you have strong enough legs to keep the table up!) Once you are happy with the appearance of your table, you can even skip purchasing a tablecloth or runners.

Many designs are holistic; this means they have the same material throughout the table, and they are also designed to look good with the materials that are used. Some tables do, however, come with tops that are made of one material and bodies and legs that are made of others. If you want something that comes in a two-tone appearance or want to combine, say, metal and glass, then you can choose a dual-material dining table for your home.

Wood

Wood is the most common material used for dining tables, and for furniture in general. It can be shaped, carved, cut, painted/colored, and styled in countless ways, allowing you to create (or buy) a table that is as unique as your tastes and your home. If you want a wooden dining table, you can choose from a wide variety of different wood types. Each type has its own specific color, grain, and feel. A dining table that is made of wood can last for many, many years, even decades.

Glass

Dining tables with glass tops give your home an elegant, open feeling. It will help to open up and lighten your dining area and gives you a modern surface to use and interact with. Glass tables are usually placed on a pedestal that can be wooden, marble, metal, or another material. They can also be made completely from glass, along with legs that are sometimes made with mirrored panels for high-end luxe looks. Glass dining tables give your dining room a stunning look but the table itself can be fragile.

Laminate

Laminate dining tables are made of multiple layers of construction. This gives it a sturdy and appealing appearance that is resistant to wear and tear much like glass. Laminate tables are a cost-effective option when you do not want to spend too much on a dining table. They are generally quite durable and can look just like (or at least very similar to) dining tables that are made of other, more expensive materials.

Metal

With a metal-topped dining table, you can give a hard, industrial look to your dining room. Metal is stain-resistant, is cool to touch, is robust and reliable, and can be used for modern and contemporary looks. For the most part, you will probably find metal dining tables in homes or in places that want an industrial or modern look. They are durable, robust, and sturdy.

Marble

We talk here of marble but we mean marble dining tabletops, not dining tables made of marble. Marble is usually seen on your kitchen countertops but can be used on luxe dining tables as well. Using marble gives your dining room a look of sophisticated opulence and, like metal, it is a cool surface that is easy to clean. In addition to marble, granite and onyx tables can be found on the expensive end of the spectrum for dining tables. Each option can provide you with unique and intricate details that maintain the value of your table for years and years to come.

Tile

A somewhat rare tabletop choice involves using tile. It can be used for the entire surface of the table or for tastefully placed designs, such as is often found framed in wood, to give you a nice texture and a visually appealing surface for your dining table.

Style

The last piece of the puzzle when buying a dining table is to think about the style you want to go for. It is in making this choice that you will be choosing the visual aesthetic of your new piece of furniture.

Traditional

Traditionally styled dining tables are quite common. They often feature carved wood, detailed designs and textures, and rich, heavy proportions that make for both timeless as well as powerful looks.

Modern

Modern dining tables try to combine utility with design cues that are reminiscent of the early 20th century. They usually come with clean lines, sharp angles, and straightforward surfaces. Such tables bring an air of thinness and openness to any room.

Rustic

Rustic dining tables come with unpainted wood that combines natural and hand-carved shapes that give you a simple look evocative of nature. These types of dining tables are common in cabins and cottages.

Industrial

When we talk about industrial styles, what we mean is design themes that give you a sense of factories, machinery, and tools, combined with metal, strong wood shapes, and meaningful and purposeful looks.

Contemporary

Contemporary designs can be seen in a variety of styles; they are not confined to any single niche or design theme. All your furniture needs to do to be classified as contemporary is to look like it ‘fits’ in the current setting and is up to date.

Seating Capacity

We are making progress, aren’t we? The next dimension we need to consider before buying a new dining room table is its capacity. By capacity we mean how many people can comfortably sit at the table. Capacities vary considerably. Although you may want to maximize the seating capacity that is possible with your new dining table, don’t buy something that is so big that is does not fit comfortably into your space or makes it look cramped and out of space.

Dining table capacities generally range from two to eight, with dining tables that seat more than 8 people being the reserve of large homes and the financially well-endowed.

Additional Considerations

We covered a lot of material here, and it is now time to think about a few different things that may come up as you go through the actual motions of buying a new dining table.

Length

How big should your dining table be? Another way to ask the same thing is, how big are the standard shapes of dining tables? Square dining tables are usually used for dining spaces that are small or compact. Rectangular tables are common in every setting. Round and oval-shaped dining tables are also very popular and come in a variety of sizes.

Square tables, generally speaking, are designed to seat four people. You can, however, find square dining tables that are larger. Usually, they measure between three feet (36 inches) to close to four feet (44 to 48 inches) on every side.

Rectangular dining tables are the most common type of dining room table you will find. Generally speaking, they seat between four and six people but can be made to seat many more. The typical size of a rectangular dining table is four feet (48 inches) for a table that is large enough to seat four people and five feet (60 inches) for a table that is designed to fit six people comfortably. Tables that are bigger (over six feet or 72-78 inches long) are designed for fitting eight people at the table.

Oval tables are usually designed to be very similar to rectangular tables. Circular dining room tables are not measured across; rather, they are measured using their diameter. A circular table that is large enough for four people would be between three and four feet (36 to 48 inches) in diameter. A circular table designed to seat six people would be up to four and a half feet (54 inches) in diameter. If you need seating for eight people, you would obviously need a table with an even larger diameter, but you risk the table looking like a cocktail table in a restaurant or large ballroom.

Width

The width of your dining table will depend on the type you buy. A square dining table would, obviously, have the same length as the width. Rectangular and oval-shaped tables are usually three feet wide, or a little more. Finally, the width of a round table is just the same as its diameter.

Height

For the most part, dining tables are between 28 and 30 inches in height. Some tables come in higher heights. Tables that are as high as your counters will be three feet (36 inches) high, and tables that are designed to be as high as a bar table will be as high as 42 inches off the ground. Needless to say, you would need chairs as well as stools that are high enough to be used with the table of the height that you chose.

Rent

Can you rent a dining table? Yes. Buying a new dining table involves a considerable amount of investment. As a result, there are a number of furniture rental startups that can give you a dining table on rent, and getting one is quite easy. Using such a service can get you the dining table you want, without having to put too much money upfront. The only caveat is that you will be restricted to renting a table that is available within the inventory of your rental company.

Recycling

Can dining tables be recycled? This is a common question that not everyone knows the answer to. Just like mattresses and other large home items, it all depends on what they are made of. Most dining tables that are made of wood come with some form or other of varnish, paint, or staining that cannot be easily recycled, even if the wood used in the construction of the table can itself be recycled. On the other hand, dining tables that are made out of either metal or glass, or stones such as marble, granite, or onyx can be recycled. Tables that are made of synthetic materials or out of laminate can also be recycled, for the most part. Older laminate and synthetic tables, however, may not be easily recyclable as they used to be made using chemicals and materials that cannot be safely or easily melted down and reused.