Sustainable Table Tops for Restaurants: One Clear Winner for the Ultimate Eco-Friendly Dining Experience

Read Time: 18 minutes

Tabletop options are numerous. From laminate to stone there are tables to fit any budget and style. However, not many materials can be classified as truly sustainable. Although sustainability is only one factor of many in choosing material for your restaurant table tops, it is an important one. Consider sustainability when deciding on your tabletop selection.

Importance of Sustainability

Sustainability has been a hot topic in recent years as scientific studies are conducted and new information comes to light. Sustainability is defined by the United Nations as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  This broad topic encompasses human, environmental, economic, and social aspects of the present and future health of humanity and the planet. The idea of sustainability is to take care of the needs of today with consideration of our environment and the needs of future generations.

Today, the topic encompasses every aspect of our lives from how we get to work down to the household products we use. Supporting the cause for sustainable products has positive impacts on your business and the world. Providing a sustainable dining experience and workplace can give your restaurant a positive reputation in your community. Overall, sustainability can also cut costs in your expenses.

A solid sustainable tabletop can showcase your values to your guests while creating a trendy and aesthetic eating environment. When designing or refreshing your dining space with new table tops, consider the environmental and economic impact your tabletop choice may have on our planet.

Negative Impacts of Various Tabletop Materials


Laminate table tops are generally considered the cheapest option when it comes to buying restaurant table tops. These table tops are made from synthetic materials which are produced from fossil-fuel resources. Producing laminate materials generates a high volume of greenhouse gases.

This low-quality material has a short lifespan, especially when used on high-traffic surfaces. Because of the inability to recycle these products, they often end up in landfills where they can release microplastics and other chemicals into the environment.

Some laminate materials may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or other harmful chemicals that can pose health risks as these gases are released into the air. Prolonged exposure to these gases can lead to health problems such as irritation, headaches, and other, more serious symptoms. These compounds are not limited to laminate tables. Consider avoiding laminate flooring as well for a more sustainable, healthy environment for your staff and guests.

Even though laminate table tops may be the cheaper option, the lifespan and negative sustainability mark this off many restaurant owners’ lists of potential products.

Granite and Marble

Stone is considered a timeless material that embodies luxury and quality. Although these materials are considered natural products, the materials are not considered renewable. Granite and marble stones take millions of years to form, meaning frequent use of these stones will one day render them exceedingly rare.

Although in some cases these options are considered more sustainable than others because they can potentially be recycled, these are certainly not the best option if looking to maintain an eco-friendly reputation. Harvesting granite can take loads of energy and water, not to mention huge amounts of waste. Granite and other natural stones contain trace amounts of naturally occurring radioactive elements. As mass amounts of waste from the harvesting decay, they release radionuclides. Studies have found that activity concentrations were higher in granite quarries than the world average. This poses a great danger to those working and living around these quarries.

Although granite or marble table tops may add an element of luxury to your space, those stone tops will cost the health of many who work and live around granite quarries.

If you must choose stone table tops to match your desired aesthetic, consider using recycled materials as the best sustainable option in this category. Using recycled materials will contribute to waste reduction, consume less energy, and reduce emissions. Compared to virgin stone extraction, recycling stone is the more environmentally friendly option.

New Wood

Wood harvesting is often associated with deforestation. Deforestation, the process of removing whole areas of land for various purposes, has altered landscapes and affected many animals that call these forested areas home.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for global warming. After absorbing this toxic gas, trees release oxygen, replenishing the air that living organisms need to survive. As we cut down these vital resources, we cut ourselves off from the fresh clean air.

Deforestation also leads to drastic changes in the landscape. From soil erosion to disruptions of water cycles, the changes in the landscape have drastic ecological, hydrological, and climatic impacts on our planet. This poses a major challenge to our efforts at conservation and sustainable development efforts worldwide.

Today lumber is cut from new-growth trees. Lumber from over a hundred years ago came from untouched forests where the trees had time to mature. Because of this gradual maturity, these trees formed tight rings that improved the quality of the wood. This virgin wood, as it is called, is hard to find today. Instead, the lumber available is of lower quality and has cost us the opportunity to create an environment like the trees from over a hundred years ago.

Deforest station happening in forest


Bamboo Tree In the Bamboo Forsest

Although bamboo is considered one of the most environmentally friendly materials for furniture and flooring, it is not always practical for table tops. Although sharing many qualities of wood, bamboo is a type of grass. It is known for its rapid growth. As one of the fastest-growing plants on earth, bamboo can be harvested at a much faster rate than trees. Bamboo also requires less water, pesticides, and fertilizer to grow. It can survive a variety of climates and can be harvested every few years without killing the plant.

Bamboo also provides economic benefits. According to the United Nations Environment Program, bamboo has over 2,000 uses. In areas where bamboo naturally grows in vast quantities, there is a potential for economic growth. For example, the UN suggests that with proper planning, African Countries could potentially profit from the bamboo forests in their region.

Although bamboo contributes in many ways to the environment, producing a high-quality product from bamboo is a labor-intensive process that takes time, added materials, and room for error. Because of its hollow center and thinner diameter, bamboo cannot be simply cut into usable planks for the construction of table tops.

Kiln drying is used in natural materials to reduce moisture, reduce biological degradation, and kill off any pests or fungi. The high temperature involved in the kiln drying process can cause cracking and render the material unusable.

Bamboo may be a great choice for other areas of your restaurant design; however, for your tabletop, bamboo cannot withstand the daily wear of long-term, frequent use. It is also more difficult to refinish, reuse, and repurpose.

The Top Sustainable Option – Reclaimed Wood

When comparing materials for sustainable restaurant table tops, reclaimed wood is a clear winner. With many options and customizations available, table tops made from reclaimed wood can fit your restaurant’s theme and overall aesthetic. From luxury to casual dining, reclaimed wood can fit your guests’ expectations while also putting up with the frequent, harsh use of everyday service needs.

Environmentally Friendly

Reclaimed wood comes from old buildings that are due to be demolished. If not reused, this wood would be burned, and carbon housed within would be released into the air. This is widely known to be bad for the environment and a major cause of climate change. According to studies conducted by the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies, wood material had a 3 to 5 times higher global warming potential than reclaimed wood. In other words, new wood lumber damages our environment far more than reclaimed wood.

Recycling this old wood can also assist in the prevention of deforestation. The more we can repurpose, the less we need to harvest from our environment.

Reclaimed wood becomes even more environmentally friendly when it is purchased locally. Transportation of heavy lumber can raise the carbon footprint of your table tops. Although this is not always possible, finding a reputable manufacturer of reclaimed wood table tops that is near your location can be more eco-friendly and convenient.


Reclaimed wood, especially barn wood, has the added benefit of strength. Before these trees were chopped down and cut into planks, they spent centuries maturing. Their rings are tight, meaning they are dense. This creates a durable product that works well for your table tops. New wood planks do not have the same tight rings as old, reclaimed wood. Because these trees have not aged as long, their rings are more spread, weakening their durability.

End Grain side of a wood log


Reclaimed wood comes in a variety of wood types. Like other lumber table tops, reclaimed can be completely customized to match your restaurant’s style and needs. At TimeWorn, we not only provide a selection of reclaimed wood, but also many customizable enhancements that make your table tops unique to your restaurant. From branded logos to waterfall edges, TimeWorn can help you make these sustainable products a statement piece for your restaurant.


Of course, reclaimed wood is reusable. From an old barn to your restaurant tables, the reclaimed lumber has transformed into something completely new and different. When you want a fresh look, reclaimed wood can be refinished. In fact, the wood can be refinished multiple times before replacement. When the wood is no longer serving its purpose as table tops, you can recycle or reuse the wood for other projects within or outside of your restaurant.

Added Charm

Reclaimed wood is guaranteed to be older than you and perhaps your establishment as well. Add a touch of history to your restaurant with wood that is hundreds of years old. Reclaimed wood provides elements of style that fresh lumber can never achieve. Even if you aren’t sold on the rustic appearance that is often associated with reclaimed wood, there is a style for you.

Long-Term Savings

Because reclaimed wood is so durable and can easily be refinished or repurposed, reclaimed wood table tops can save your restaurant money in the long term. These tables will easily last decades with proper care. When sealed properly, caring for your reclaimed wood table tops is easy. The wood will withstand high heat and repeated use without damage.

Other Uses for Sustainable Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood doesn’t need to be limited to table tops. These versatile pieces can become a work of art on your wall or stool seating for guests. Add shelves or create a statement bar that screams class with reclaimed wood.

Quality and Safety Assured

At TimeWorn, our reclaimed wood is from unpainted portions of 2” thick material saved from old barns. This lumber is guaranteed lead-free. These ideal planks are typically found in floors and roofs. Our lumber is also kiln-dried at over 180 degrees until the moisture levels are under 5%. This process kills any pests or fungi that may have resided in the wood. It also allows us to ship to any state or country without the risk of shrinking or cracking.  

We are proud to say that we are one of, if not the only company, that will warranty our reclaimed table tops for 2 years. This covers cracks, cupping, or any defects.

Get Green Certified

Reclaimed wood table tops are certified green by the green restaurant association. This may just be part of your journey to becoming a green restaurant. Consider other ways of becoming an eco-friendly business.

  • Look at sustainable options for all your furnishing needs.
  • Use sustainable plates, utensils, and glasses.
  • Optimize your menu for sustainability by ordering locally.
  • Look at more sustainable lighting.
  • Manage water waste.
  • Use green products to clean and maintain your business.

If you are passionate about sustainability and want your restaurant to reflect your values, find out how to get certified by The Green Restaurant Association. On a mission to green the restaurant industry, The Green Restaurant Association encourages restaurant owners to transform their business into an environmentally sustainable restaurant. Their certification is science-based and uses a point rating system. With a certification from this association, your customers will know that you are doing your part to ensure a healthy world for future generations.

In conclusion, the choice of tabletops in your restaurant speaks volumes about your commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility. Reclaimed wood emerges as the clear leader in sustainable restaurant design, combining ecological benefits with aesthetic appeal and durability. By opting for reclaimed wood, you not only contribute to reducing deforestation and waste but also enhance your dining space with unique, story-rich surfaces that can withstand the rigors of daily use.  TimeWorn is here to support your journey towards a more sustainable dining environment with our range of high-quality reclaimed wood products:

Reclaimed Distressed Pine Tables

Reclaimed Distressed Oak Tables

Barn Wood White Reclaimed Pine Tables

Barn Wood Original Reclaimed Pine Tables

Barn Wood Original Reclaimed Oak Tables

Smooth Reclaimed Pine Tables

Smooth Reclaimed Oak with Pecan Stain Tables

Smooth Reclaimed Oak with Bourbon Stain Tables

Smooth Reclaimed Oak Tables

Embrace the opportunity to showcase your commitment to the planet while providing a memorable dining experience for your guests. For more information on our sustainable solutions and how we can help transform your restaurant, Explore TimeWorn or contact us directly. Together, we can make a positive impact on the environment and create a space that truly reflects your values and vision.


What makes a restaurant table top eco-friendly?

An eco-friendly restaurant table top is made from sustainable, recycled, or reclaimed materials that have a minimal environmental footprint during their lifecycle.

The most sustainable materials for eco-friendly table tops include reclaimed wood, bamboo, recycled glass, and composite materials made from recycled plastic.

Recycled materials, such as the reclaimed lumber or barn wood we utilize at Timeworn, can often surpass the durability of traditional materials. Through natural aging processes, such as over 100 years of drying, reclaimed wood becomes significantly harder and more resilient, offering enhanced strength and longevity for commercial applications.

Yes, eco-friendly table tops are designed to withstand heavy use in commercial settings, with many manufacturers focusing on durability and longevity.

Benefits include reducing waste, conserving natural resources, and enhancing the restaurant’s commitment to sustainability, which can attract eco-conscious customers.  There’s also a level of beauty and character that only exists in reclaimed wood after 100+ years of use.

The costs can be comparable to or slightly higher than conventional table tops, but the long-term benefits and potential savings in waste management can offset initial expenses.

Seek certifications such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) for wood, which affirm that materials are sustainably sourced and produced. When purchasing restaurant table tops made from reclaimed lumber, consider the unique attributes they bring. The color variation, character, and the fact that the wood was often virgin growth material 150 years ago, provide a beauty and quality that new lumber simply cannot replicate.

Verify sustainability claims of a restaurant table top manufacturer by researching the manufacturer’s sourcing practices, certifications, and any third-party sustainability assessments.

The scope for customizing our reclaimed wood restaurant table tops is boundless, from selecting specific materials and finishes to integrating custom designs and logos. There are absolutely no limitations to how you can tailor our reclaimed wood table tops to meet your aesthetic and functional needs.

There are no limitations to repairing or refinishing eco-friendly or reclaimed wood restaurant table tops.

There are no limitations to how you care for our recycled material table tops. You can use any table top cleaning product.

The lifespan of a sustainable restaurant table top can be very long, especially when well maintained, often outlasting traditional materials due to the quality and durability of the materials used.

Restaurant table tops crafted from recycled and reclaimed materials can significantly enhance a restaurant’s aesthetic, offering unique textures and stories that contribute to a distinct dining atmosphere.

Many eco-friendly table tops are designed to be recycled or biodegraded at the end of their life, continuing the cycle of sustainability.

Reclaimed wood table tops reduce demand on forests, decrease landfill waste, and often involves less energy to process than manufacturing new products.

With proper treatment and finishing, table tops crafted with recycled or reclaimed materials pose no health or safety concerns; eco-friendly materials are non-toxic and hypoallergenic.

They underscore a restaurant’s commitment to environmental stewardship, enhancing brand image and supporting broader green initiatives.

Innovative materials include agricultural by-products, recycled metals, and bio-based composites, which are pushing the boundaries of sustainability in design.

Customers often view the use of recycled and sustainable materials positively, associating them with quality and environmental responsibility.

Our eco-friendly table tops are treated to resist stains and heat, although their resistance levels can vary depending on their manufacturer.

While specific incentives or tax credits vary by location for using sustainable materials, many businesses can receive tax credits, grants, or other benefits for implementing sustainable practices.

Eco-friendly table tops can improve indoor air quality by minimizing the emission of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), common in traditional manufacturing processes.

Eco-friendly table tops are manufactured through processes that prioritize environmental sustainability. This involves using reclaimed or sustainably sourced materials, minimizing waste by utilizing efficient cutting techniques, and applying non-toxic finishes. The production process also aims to reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, ensuring that each table top not only looks good but also contributes positively to the environment.

When buying sustainable restaurant table tops, look for manufacturers who use reclaimed or sustainably sourced materials and have energy-efficient manufacturing processes.

To Ensure the wood being used to craft your table tops comes from certified sources, request a sample, ask for the history of the wood, and verify the manufacturing process for sustainability practices.

Sustainable table tops, particularly those made from reclaimed wood, can have a longer lifespan, reduce replacement costs, and potentially lower operation costs due to their durability and easy maintenance.

There are no limitations when using reclaimed wood to craft restaurant table tops, sustainable table tops come in various styles, finishes, and materials that can suit any restaurant design while maintaining an eco-friendly footprint.

Using sustainable materials and specifically, reclaimed wood table tops, can bolster your restaurant’s reputation as environmentally conscious, attracting customers who prioritize sustainability and enhancing your brand’s identity.  With reclaimed wood you will also get a level of beauty that just cannot be duplicated with new lumber.

Many sustainable materials are designed for durability and long-term use, making them suitable for high-traffic dining environments.  The lumber used in reclaimed wood table tops is most often virgin growth and therefore much denser and more durable.

Common misconceptions about using sustainable restaurant table tops include that they are more expensive than traditional options, offer fewer design choices, and are less durable.

Sustainable table tops can enhance the dining experience by creating a unique, natural, and comfortable setting, demonstrating the restaurant’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

When transitioning from conventional tables to sustainable tables, you should consider, the environmental impact, the potential for cost savings, compatibility with your restaurant’s design, and the message you want to convey to your customers.

Highlight your sustainable choices on your menu, website, and social media channels, and educate your staff to share the benefits with diners.

While each material may have specific care requirements, generally, sustainable table tops require simple, regular cleaning with eco-friendly products and occasional refinishing to maintain their natural beauty and durability.  At TimeWorn we craft and finish our reclaimed wood table tops in the exact same manner as our traditional wood table tops, therefore no special care is required.

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