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What to look for when buying a dining table

You're in the market for a new dining table. Maybe it's to replace an older one, or maybe you're moving into a new home, but you know that you need something new. This guide will help you get the perfect dining table for your home.

Dining tables come in all sorts of materials, shapes, sizes, and features, so the shopping experience can be a bit overwhelming. We want to simplify the process for you by showing you what your options are and what type of features you should be on the lookout for. With these easy-to-follow steps, we'll get you set up with the perfect dining table that will host all sorts of fun family gatherings for years to come.

Step 1

MEASURE YOUR SPACE

The first and most important step when buying any piece of furniture is to measure the space where you'll be putting it. With a dining table, however, you can't just make sure it'll fit in the room.

You'll also want to keep in mind the space around the table so that guests have plenty of room to move around the table and sit down. Usually, we use the rule of 50”—you want to keep the edge of the dining table around 50” away from walls and other pieces of furniture.

PRO TIP use a bed sheet to get an idea of how the table's footprint will fit in the space. You can fold it up to make it the same dimensions as the table you're interested in

Step 2

KNOW YOUR MATERIALS!

Dining tables come in many different materials, each with their own benefits. Here are the most common with some pros and cons.

PRO TIP most bases and legs are constructed of steel, hardwood, or aluminum, but the base will not usually determine the table's longevity.

Usually cherry, maple, or oak

PRO usually a smoother surface with few imperfections

CON proper care for the wood must be taken to prevent water marks, scratches etc.

Usually cherry, maple, or oak

PRO usually a smoother surface with few imperfections

CON proper care for the wood must be taken to prevent water marks, scratches etc.

Usually hardwoods

PRO as a very warm earthy look to it

CON hardwoods usually have imperfections making the surface uneven (bad for writing)

Usually hardwoods

PRO as a very warm earthy look to it

CON hardwoods usually have imperfections making the surface uneven (bad for writing)

Can be clear, smoked, opaque, or etched

PRO super smooth

CON requires cleaning to keep smudges off

Can be clear, smoked, opaque, or etched

PRO super smooth

CON requires cleaning to keep smudges off

STONE/MARBLE

Nice natural material

PRO smooth surface

CON usually expensive, heavy and can chip if not careful

STONE/MARBLE

Nice natural material

PRO smooth surface

CON usually expensive, heavy and can chip if not careful

MDF

Medium Density Fiberboard

PRO tends to be more affordable

CON usually veneer of laminate on top, not very desirable

MDF

Medium Density Fiberboard

PRO tends to be more affordable

CON usually veneer of laminate on top, not very desirable

Step 3

FEATURES + SHAPES

Something to consider when shopping for your dining table is whether you'll be throwing awesome parties or having people over for dinners.

Some dining tables are expandable, so that you can make the seating area larger or smaller depending on the amount of people that will be at the table. Expandable dining tables come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and can expand to various lengths.

Here are a few of the different expanding table mechanisms

.

The table top spreads apart and a removable leaf goes in the middle. Sometimes the leaf stores inside the table, and sometimes you have to store it in a closet or behind the buffet.

One or more sides of the table drop down on a hinge. These are great for apartments.

Another thing to consider is the shape of the table. Here are the most common shapes and pros/cons for each one:

ROUND

Great for smaller spaces. Works great for creating conversation since everyone is equidistant. Usually round tables are good for seating areas of 4-6 people.

Same as round, good for smaller spaces. Promotes conversation since everyone is right next to and across from one another.

Most common shape. Since most rooms are rectangular, this is the natural choice. Can cause reaching and segmented conversations.

Same as rectangle with a twist. Usually provides plenty of seating. Can cause segmented conversations.

Step 4

THINK ABOUT SEATING

The last thing to keep in mind when shopping for your dining table is what type of seating you'd like to put around your dining table. Knowing whether you'd like to go with

armchairs,

benches,

or regular dinner chairs

will go a long way into informing what type of table would be best for you to purchase. Buying a dining set might be the easiest thing to do, but it's less personal. Mixing and matching styles and seating types can make for interesting and unique eating spaces.

PRO TIP make sure that you account for extra seats if you get an expandable dining table!