Best Material for Restaurant Table Tops

Read Time: 19 minutes

Choosing the Best Material for Your Restaurant Table Tops: Stone vs. Solid Wood vs. Laminate

One might think that as a wood restaurant table manufacturer that we would not have an objective view on comparing alternative materials to wood. However, it is just the opposite, there are certain situations that simply do not make sense to use wood table tops. We will compare the important advantages and disadvantages using each of the 3 most popular material options that you have.

Heat Resistance

Stone – Had you asked me 20 years ago which of the 3 products would best resist the effects of high direct heat, I would have said stone without a close second.

Laminate – To the surprise of most people, laminate surfaces are heat-bonded to pressed board substrates. They can delaminate at 280 degrees Fahrenheit, so be careful with hot items.

Wood – Wood, by nature, is prone to discoloration when exposed to high heat. However, when treated with a high-quality restaurant-grade finish that has undergone lab-certified SEFA-8 Testing – like the one we use – the issue is Gone! Our tests on Oak, Pine, and Walnut surfaces, even at temperatures as high as 400 degrees, have shown no signs of discoloration, attesting to the effectiveness of our finishing process.

Request More Info Now!

Outdoor Application

Stone – With its natural ability to repel water and its sheer density, Stone is a Great option for outdoor use. You must be careful as often there is a substrate attached to the underside of stone tops that provides additional support and allows for ease of installation to the base. This substrate is typically not meant for outdoor use.

Laminate – Laminate tops are not suitable for outdoor settings. Their construction does not stand up well to the elements, such as high humidity, UV exposure, or temperature fluctuations.

Wood – The historical use of wood in furniture making, spanning thousands of years, gives it an edge in terms of the variety of finishes available for outdoor use. Our company has explored over 20 such finishes. Although we do not specialize in outdoor table tops, our experience shows that Epifane yacht varnish has yielded excellent results for outdoor wood tables, providing robust protection against environmental factors.

Request More Info Now!

Scratch Resistance

Stone – If you have ever tried to scratch or break a rock, you understand how difficult it is. Stone is one of the hardest, scratch resistant products known to man. However, while stone itself is tough, its clear coat is more vulnerable. If someone were to etch into it, it is the clear coat that gets damaged, not the stone. Keep in mind, repairing this clear coat can be quite costly.

Laminate – Created by fusing plastic and other materials under high heat and pressure, laminate emerges as a highly scratch-resistant surface. But it is important to note that if it does get scratched, particularly with a sharp object and enough force, the damage is irreversible.

Wood – The scratch resistance of wood table tops largely depends on the type of finish used. Single component or water-based finishes tend to be more susceptible to scratches. However, by applying an acrylic polyurethane finish, as we do, wood tables can achieve a level of scratch resistance comparable to laminate. Should you encounter a scratch there are several easy repair solutions.

Request More Info Now!

Chemical Resistance

Stone – Due to its impervious nature, stone is highly resistant to chemical damage, making it an excellent choice for restaurant table tops where chemicals are repeatedly used, such as the cleaning of table tops.

Laminate – While laminate offers good chemical resistance, caution is advised around its edges and corners. These areas can have gaps where chemicals and water might seep in, potentially damaging the substrate underneath and causing potential health concerns.

Wood – Our focus on SEFA-8 testing has led us to a finish for wood that withstands even the harshest chemicals. In many instances, this finish offers superior protection compared to laminate and can sometimes even outperform the clear coat applied to stone tops in terms of chemical resistance.

Request More Info Now!

Lifespan

Stone-Can last forever if you properly care for it. This can be a double-edged sword as often restaurants or designers want a fresh look after 10-15 years.

Laminate – Many times you can get as much as 5-10 years out of laminate if it is cared for properly and not heavily used.

Wood – You can find examples of our wood tables that look like the day we finished them 15 years ago. On average, you can expect 15-20 years out of our tables, depending on wear and tear, before you may need a touch-up coat of finish. If they are not heavily abused, this timeline can be expanded.

Request More Info Now!

Shipping

Stone – It is extremely difficult to both package and to ship stone restaurant table tops. While stone has great strength from direct impacts, it will often crack under its own weight and is highly prone to chipping around the perimeter if something hard comes in contact with it.

Laminate – Because it is lightweight, laminate is incredibly easy to ship and move.

Wood – Depending on the species it can be as much as ½ the weight of stone or as little as ¼ the weight. Having shipped literally 10’s of thousands of tables, we have become experts in the shipping of solid wood tables.

Request More Info Now!

Price

Stone – Be prepared to spend around $75-$150 for every square foot of table top.

Laminate – If you are on a very tight budget, you can find laminate tops in the price range of $10 to $20 per square foot.

Wood – On average our table tops range in price from as little as $30 per square foot and as much as $75 per square foot.

Request More Info Now!

Size Options

Stone – Because of both its weight and the limitations with the shipping and manufacturing process, you will find limitations typically at 4′ wide and 12′ in length. It is also highly recommended to buy these locally as shipping can be both a high-risk event and the weight typically adds a significant amount to the overall cost.

Laminate – The limitation in laminate sizing has to do with the substrate and currently you can only buy substrate in sizes up to 5′ in width and 10′ in length. And even at that size, you must be extremely careful with handling as the substrate will snap if it is bent too far under its own weight.

Wood – With our current process we can manufacture slabs that are up to 5′ in width and 20′ in length. With the use of mechanical hardware, you can increase that length to infinity. Personally, we have built 80′ and 100′ long bartops before.

Request More Info Now!

Customization

Stone – You can typically customize the edges of a stone table top and often their shape. Because of its hardness, customizing stone can become extremely expensive.

Laminate – If you want to maintain the laminate surface around all edges and sides, it is difficult to customize the shape of laminate table tops.

Wood – There is just an endless way to customize your solid wood restaurant tables to help your restaurant stand out above the rest. We have created of 20 different profiled edges, we have cut 1,000’s of different shapes, and we can engrave logos into your restaurant tables.

Request More Info Now!

Best Applications

Stone – You can install stone table tops into about any setting, so long as you have a budget to support this product.

Laminate –Laminate is an obvious choice when you are on a tight budget, when there is heavy abuse expected or when looks are not a concern.

Wood – With over 50 distinct products to choose from, you are bound to find a product that fits into any and every restaurant design. With the natural grain, color, and character you will not find in any other product, it is hard not to find something that will work great with your design.

Request More Info Now!

Install

Stone – This can be challenging because of the weight of stone table and their likelihood of cracking if not handled properly. Using a substrate to attach your bases and a professional to execute the install is often required.

Laminate – Extremely easy to install and lightweight. Can be installed without a professional

Wood – More than ½ of all our restaurant tables sold are installed by the restaurant owner or by an employee of the restaurant. We can, and often do, pre-drill into the bottoms of the tables, so it is as easy as lining up the base with the holes in the table and driving the screws into place.

Request More Info Now!

Emotions Evoked

Stone – Cold, minimalism, stability, hardness, indifference

Laminate – Practicality, casualness, indifference, efficiency

Wood – Warmth, nostalgia, connection to nature, sturdiness, intimacy, authenticity, timelessness, appreciation for craftsmanship

Request More Info Now!

Environmental Impact

Stone
Sourcing: Granite is quarried from the earth. The extraction process is energy-intensive and often requires landscape and habitat destruction.

Manufacturing: Cutting and shaping stone tops requires substantial energy. Transporting the heavy stone is also substantial, both leaving a huge carbon footprint.

End-of-Life: Stone tops are not biodegradable but can be recycled. It is heavy weight and the energy required to repurpose it can environmentally taxing.

Laminate
Sourcing: Laminate is synthetic, and the material used in its production involves the use of chemical and non-renewable resources like petroleum.

Manufacturing: The process of creating laminate involves bonding layers under high heat and pressure, which consumes massive amounts of energy.

End-of-Life: Laminate is not biodegradable and is challenging to recycle due to its composite nature, often ending up in landfills.

Wood
Sourcing: Wood is a renewable resource and by using sustainable forestry or using reclaimed lumber, the environment can benefit from this practice as the lumber harvested contains captured CO2.

Manufacturing: While it still takes energy to process and transport solid wood table tops, the amount required is miniscule in comparison to stone and laminate.

End-of-Life: Wood is biodegradable and be easily recycled or repurposed.

Request More Info Now!

In Conclusion

Stone table tops are known for their exceptional durability and resistance to heat, scratches, and chemicals, making them ideal for various settings, but they are heavy and costly, especially in terms of shipping and customization.

Laminate table tops offer good scratch resistance and are budget-friendly, but they are not suitable for outdoor use and have limited customization options, with environmental concerns due to their synthetic material composition.

Wood table tops, enhanced with high-quality finishes, combine heat and scratch resistance with a robust lifespan, offering unparalleled customization and environmental sustainability, making them a superior choice for diverse restaurant designs.

Below is a comparative chart featuring the topics discussed in this article, listed on the left side. Across the top, we have the three products compared. Each product is evaluated based on its performance in the respective topic: a score of 0 indicates the product was a failure in that aspect, 10 signifies the product is perfect, and 5 represents a moderate, somewhat successful performance.

In assessing the suitability of different materials for various applications, it becomes evident that laminate holds a distinct advantage primarily in scenarios where budget constraints are a key factor. Stone, on the other hand, emerges as the superior choice in two specific contexts: kitchen environments where food preparation is a primary activity, and outdoor applications, due to its durability and resistance to the elements. Wood, on the other hand, is the clear frontrunner for indoor settings, particularly in restaurant dining and bar areas, where its aesthetic appeal and warmth are unsurpassed.

FAQ

How much do wood tables weigh?

The weight of wood tables depends on the species. Pine table tops that are 2” thick weigh 16 pounds for a 24” x 24” and 40 pounds for a 30” x 48. Maple table tops that are 2” thick weigh 32 pounds for a 24” x 24” and 80 pounds for a 30” x 48”. The weight of our restaurant table bases can vary from 18 pounds to a staggering 72 pounds.

To clean wood restaurant tables, clean with gentle, non-abrasive cleaners.

Our most popular wood species for restaurant tables are: Walnut, Oak, Maple, Pine & Cherry.

Wood restaurant table tops are exceptionally durable, especially when crafted by professionals using a finish specifically designed to withstand the rigors that exist in a restaurant setting.

You can use wood restaurant tables outdoors, but it often requires wood that is not environmentally friendly or finish that must be maintained yearly.

To repair a shallow scratch, you can simply apply stain using a stain marker in a matching color. If the scratch is more of a gouge, then it may require the scratch being enclosed by tape and apply a small amount of finish.

The cost of wood tables at TimeWorn varies from $30 per square foot to as much as $70 per square foot.

Wood restaurant tables are sustainable when sourced from responsibly managed forests or crafted from reclaimed wood.

The only finish we recommend on wood restaurant tables is acrylic polyurethane. If you cannot afford this product, we recommend only using a 2-part solvent-based product that will hold up to the cleaning of the tables all day, every day, year after year without breaking down and becoming sticky to the touch.

Consider the restaurant’s layout, customer capacity, and intended use to choose the appropriate size. 

Custom wood tables can be more expensive due to the additional labor and specific materials required. However, the cost benefit of pleasing your customers and improving your design typically far outweighs the additional expense.

Laminate restaurant tables are only 2-3 pounds per square foot on average. A 24” x 24” table can weigh 8-12 pounds and a 30×48 table can weigh 20-30 pounds. The weight of the table bases can vary from 18-72 pounds. 

Laminate tables are cost-effective, offer a wide range of designs, and are easy to maintain.

Clean with mild soap and water, avoiding abrasive cleaners and excessive moisture

Laminate tables are moderately durable, suitable for light to medium use in restaurant settings.

Yes, laminate tables can mimic the appearance of wood or stone at a lower cost.

Laminate tables are affordable, ranging from $10 to $20 per square foot.

Repairing laminate tables often involves replacing the damaged table as there is just no great way to repair them.

Laminate tables come in a wide range of designs, including various colors, patterns, and textures.

Laminate tables are more cost-effective but less durable and authentic looking compared to solid wood or stone.

Laminate tables are not suitable for outdoor use due to their sensitivity to moisture and UV light.

Laminate tables are less environmentally friendly due to their synthetic materials and challenging end-of-life recycling.

Granite and marble are popular choices for their durability and aesthetic appeal.

Regular cleaning with mild detergent and sealing periodically are key to maintaining stone tables.

Stone tables are extremely durable and suitable for heavy use in restaurants.

Yes, stone tables are a viable choice for outdoor use due to their natural resistance to weather and wear. A word of caution, often a substrate is glued to the underside of stone table tops, which is not typically meant for outdoor use and typically fails outdoors.

Regular sealing and using coasters or placemats can help protect stone tables from stains and scratches.

Stone tables range from $75 to $150 per square foot, varying based on the type of stone and design.

Match the stone type and table design with the restaurant’s overall style and color scheme.

Stone tables have a negative environmental impact due to quarrying and energy-intensive manufacturing.

Professional assistance is recommended for moving and installing heavy stone tables to prevent damage.

The best choice depends on your restaurant’s style and needs: view our full chart to determine exactly which material is best for your restaurant.

When buying quality restaurant tables, you should budget $10-$20 per square foot for laminate. $30-$75 per square foot for solid wood restaurant tables. $75-$150 per square foot for stone restaurant tables. Our quick-ship restaurant table tops have set pricing and may be a great solution for a bit of savings and a guaranteed ship date within 7 days and often as quick as 3 business days.

The standard dimensions for restaurant tables will vary by the product you are using and from whom you are buying your tables. There will be limitations with both laminate and stone. At TimeWorn there are no limitations in either length or width. It is rare to find laminate or stone tabletops that are thicker than 1 1/2”, whereas Timeworn can craft tables from 1 ¼” – 4” thick.

Choose tables that fit your space layout; consider using smaller tables for flexibility or larger communal tables to maximize seating in a given area. You can also take a few minutes to read our blog on laying out your restaurant.

There are many factors that determine the best shape for the shape of your restaurant tables, but in general, round, or oval tables facilitate better group interaction and are ideal for group dining, while rectangular tables are more space efficient.

Select tables that complement the restaurant’s design, use unique materials or enhancements, and consider custom-made pieces for a distinctive touch.

For safety considerations you should always ensure that your restaurant tables are stable and sturdy, with no sharp edges or corners, and materials should be easy to clean for hygiene.

For high-traffic restaurants you are best to use light colored distressed or rustic texture wood restaurant tables.

You can coordinate colors to ensure the style of both chairs and tables complement each other and the overall design. At TimeWorn we can provide over 50 options, or we can create a custom stain for a seamless match.

Tables with sufficient under-table clearance can accommodate wheelchairs and meet ADA compliance. A minimum size of 30” x 48” and utilizing end-style bases is required. Please read our ADA compliance Blog to find all the information you will need.

Fine dining often suits elegant materials like Walnut or a dark-stained Maple wood table top. For casual dining, you might select something a little more vibrant, like wide-plank Maple or butcher block oak restaurant table tops.

To incorporate multi-functional tables, consider communal tables, drop-leaf tables, or built-in technology for various dining experiences and events.

Depending on the restaurant type, you might consider cantilever bases or bar height tables that do not require chairs.

Choose tables that reflect the theme’s era, culture, or aesthetic, using appropriate materials and designs to enhance the overall experience.

Round tables enhance group interaction and are space-efficient in tight areas, while square tables offer better modularity and fit more neatly in linear layouts.

Restaurant tables crafted from reclaimed lumber are the best way to optimize sustainability.

Arrange tables to allow for comfortable guest movement and efficient service, considering factors like aisle space, table spacing, and accessibility.

Contact Timeworn

Similar Posts