There are so many different styles and finishes for restaurant, bar and bistro table tops that sometimes you can become quite perplexed about which one you should choose. Table tops not only come in various shapes and sizes they are also made from a wide variety of different materials, so how do you choose the right one for your restaurant, hotel, bar, café or canteen?
Your budget should not be the key factor in deciding what your table tops will be made from, but the interior décor of your venue and how it is going to be used. Every one of your customers will see and use the tables that you have chosen so they need to compliment everything else.
Usually, the first decision to be made is whether you going to use tablecloths or not?
For restaurants and hotels that will be using tablecloths, both the table base and table top can be very plain and simple as they will not be seen by your customers. Just a plain table top manufactured from MDF can suffice. Spiro Designs can supply you with a table top that has baize glued to the surface this helps prevent your tablecloths from moving around and the soft touch finish reduces the noise that crockery and cutlery can make on a hard surface.
Over the last few years we have seen a shift towards customers wanting to move away from tablecloths and use restaurant tables with table tops that are permanently on show to customers forming part of the overall design and ambience of the establishment. This has led to an increase in the use of solid wood, veneers and laminates in tabletop manufacture, but what is the difference between them?

Solid Wood Table Tops

The first thing you need to consider is what type of wood do you want your restaurant table and table top to be made from. The most common woods used for the leisure and hospitality industry are beech and ash. However, as both hostelry owners and their customers become more aware of the environment rubber wood has seen a significant increase in its popularity.
Beech has a quite a plain grain running through it making it a good choice if you move your tables around a lot and push them together.
Ash has a much more obvious grain that can make for a very attractive table top and each one can look very individual.
Rubber wood is a hardwood that is as hard as oak with a dense grain that makes it a stable material, ideal for table tops. As it is not available in large pieces, table tops are manufactured in a butcher-block style.
In a raw state, solid woods are all very pale, almost white and therefore when it is made into a table top it is then stained and lacquered offering you the chance to have the wood colour that you need. Solid woods can also come with just an oiled finish giving a more rustic look to your tables.
The benefit of using a solid wood table top is the fact that it can be repaired should it get damaged. The table tops can be sanded down and re-polished time and time again giving them an exceptional life span.

Veneer Table Tops

Veneers are thin pieces of real wood that are then glued onto another board, usually MDF creating a very stable surface that will not bend or warp. As it uses only thin slices of wood it can reduce the price from using a solid wood table top.
There are many choices of veneers from simple beech to elaborate birds-eye maple. Most veneer table tops have an exposed MDF edge that is clear lacquered, but other edging options are available.
The one thing that you should consider before choosing a veneered table top is that if it gets damaged it is a lot more difficult to repair than a solid wood table top. Sanding down and re-polishing is not usually an option due to the thinness of the veneer and if the surface is broken to allow moisture in the veneer may bubble away from the core that it was glued to.

Laminate Table Tops

You do not need to shy away from using laminate table tops anymore because you think they look cheap and have their place on a fast food unit.
Laminates have moved on and there are some very high quality laminates available, such as real wood veneer and wood grain laminates along with an array of colours and patterns. Because of the laminate choice available, these highly durable table tops are making an appearance even in the most high profile of venues.
Laminate table tops are generally 25mm thick due to the MDF core that is used and makes for ideal table tops. However, to make your table top even more luxurious to look at, laminate table tops are now being manufactured with 50mm deep edges. These are manufactured by building down the core structure around the edges giving the look of a beautiful thick table top but without altering the overall height of the table.

What about the edges?

If you are going to have them as plain MDF they can have different profiles, straight, bull-nosed or even chamfered. A plain MDF edge is usually polished and clear lacquered, but we can lacquer the edges to match the chosen surface.
Laminate edge is available if you have a straight edge and we press the same or contrasting laminate around the edges to protect it. This process is also used on the 50mm deep table tops.
ABS edging is a plastic edging strip used around the table edge to protect it.
A silver aluminium edging strip around a coloured laminate table top was traditionally seen as a table top style for American Diners, but this also works well with today’s modern interiors.