Before Looking for a Dining Table

Vanessa Table by Bartoli Design

Vanessa Table by Bartoli Design

Things to Think About Before Looking for a Dining Table

Choosing a Kitchen or Dining Room table is a task that all of us will face at some point in our lives. If we do it right it’s something that we will only have to do once.

There are several things that you should ask yourself before you even begin looking.

1. First and foremost how durable should it be?
2. How much room do I have?
3. How many people am I trying to seat?
4. Will I be entertaining family during the holidays? if so, How many?
5. Will my Family be expanding in the future?

Durability is of primary concern because if you have or plan on having children they tend to be pretty rough on a table. If you choose a soft wood like pine or rubberwood (chinese made tables) it will not stand up to them very well.

A wood that is soft will dent and scratch very easily. That doesn’t make for a table that will last very long. If you choose a table that is made of particle board the laminate that covers it is tough but how long will it be before the laminate begins to peel off? As far as wood choices go the hardwoods are your best bet. The thing is not all hardwoods are created equal. The softest of all hardwoods is cherry.

To be honest it’s not much harder than pine and it tends to be quite abit more expensive than the other hard woods. The next hardest of the readily available hardwoods are the oaks, red oak & quarter sawn white oak. Both of these are very durable. The difference between the two price wise is that quarter sawn white oak is about 25% more expensive, and the way the quarter sawn white oak boards are cut from the log.

The quarter sawn boards produce a very distinct grain pattern with a cool “stripping” across the wood. The hardest of the readily available hardwoods in North America is hard maple. The price lies somewhere between quarter sawn white oak and cherry. While this wood is very durable it has almost no grain and doesn’t take stain very well. So that is definately something to think about. Overall the best bang for your buck is red oak. It’s pretty tough, The price is reasonable and it can be stained just about anyway you want.

How much room you have in your kitchen or dining room dictates alot. Things to consider here are how much space will you have around the table when people are seated at it? For some reason alot of people believe that you only need about 24 or 30 inches space between the table and walls. This is not enough room for someone to get around if they need to while people are seated at the table.

The best rule of thumb I have found is 24″ per person. That goes for seating space at the table, how far away the back of a chair is from the table and walking room behind the chairs. Of course there is some play in here but generally you want to give everybody 24″ no matter where they are. So figure 48″ space beween the edge of the table and the wall for the highest level of comfort and accessability. I realize that alot of kitchens and dining rooms just dont have 12 or 13 feet to work with if thats the case then consider a round table instead of a rectangular one. That way the tight spot is limited.

The number of people you are trying to seat is based on the 24″ per person rule. So, if you are trying to seat 6 people you will want a table that has 144″ of seating space around the sides. Something to consider here is to make sure and not crowd the corners on a rectangular or square table.

If you have Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at your house and alot of family show up then consider getting a table that can starts out small for everyday use and expands to a large size with the addition of leaves. For some people the storage of leaves posses a problem. In that case get leaves without skirts on them. The skirts add a couple of inches per leaf so eliminating them saves a huge quantity of space. Again apply the 24″ per person rule when deciding how big the table should be.

The same idea applies when you consider how big your family may become. If you plan for it ahead of time then you can store the extra leaves until they are needed. That way you wont have to run out and buy a bigger table when you have kids.

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