There’s something wonderfully appealing about pulling your chair up to a beautifully finished wood tabletop. Wood brings organic warmth to any space and can easily be dressed up or down to blend in with the aesthetic of your space. Whether your business is rustic, modern, industrial, or formal, wooden tabletops just might be the perfect choice for you.
But it isn’t as simple as finding a table that looks at home in your space, especially within the hospitality industry where tables and chairs are subjected to regular (and sometimes rough) use. That’s why it is important to know what to look for when you’re shopping for wooden tabletops…and it’s where we are happy to help. We’ve gathered a list of our favorite wood tabletop tips to ensure you find a tabletop that functions flawlessly while looking great.
1. Consider the Temperature Conditions in Your Area
Not all wood tabletops are created equal, and some will not fare well in certain environments. It’s important to consider the climate in which your tabletops will live. Do you live in a particularly arid region where the climate remains hot and dry? Are you in a tropical environment where the air remains moist and humid? Or do you live somewhere with wildly fluctuating temperatures? The climate in which you live can influence the life of the furniture you purchase, so make sure any tabletops you are considering can withstand your unique environment.
This is less of a concern if your furniture will be kept indoors in a climate-controlled environment…but there are some exceptions. For example, restaurants in colder climates sometimes have a roaring fireplace as a feature. While the ambiance created is lovely, tables that are closest to the flames will be exposed to higher temperatures and could dry out and warp or crack if not properly treated.
2. Consider the Finish
This is really…and we mean really…important. While it may be tempting to purchase wooden tabletops from a discount store, doing so could end up costing you in the long run. Given the amount of wear and tear a commercial tabletop must endure, it is imperative that you purchase one that has been treated for commercial use.
- Water-based finish – many companies market this type of finish as a “greener” option for eco-conscious restaurants and hospitality establishments because it doesn’t use the solvent base embraced by other finishing companies. Unfortunately, water-based finishes usually require more frequent touch-ups and reapplications because they are susceptible to heat, moisture, chemical cleaning sprays, and the everyday wear and tear most commercial tabletops endure.
- Conversion varnish – this finish is usually used on cabinets that do not require the same level of regular cleaning as tables. But some manufacturers are using it to finish wooden tabletops that must be cleaned hundreds of times a week. This can cause the conversion finish to begin to break down, leaving a sticky residue on tabletops. You’ll do well to avoid this finish for your tables.
- 2-part, solvent-based polyurethane – this is the gold-star winner of hospitality finishes. Wonderfully water-resistant and virtually scratch-proof, a table finished with polyurethane will likely last 10 years or more…about the time you’re ready for your next remodel.
3. Choose a Reputable Supplier
When it comes to your restaurant or bar, now is not the time to try to cut corners. Sure, you may have an industry peer who “knows a guy who knows a lady that sells wooden tabletops for a steal”, but odds are high that you’re going to get exactly what you pay for. There’s a reason she’s able to sell her wares at bargain-basement prices…they are likely made from poor-quality wood or covered in a questionable finish. Far too often, business owners looking to save a few bucks end up spending more having low-quality tabletops repaired, refinished, or replaced than they would if they’d just sought a reputable supplier in the first place.
If you want to purchase directly from the builder, make sure he or she is someone who has a wealth of experience, preferably a decade or more of working within the industry. You should be able to ask for and receive multiple references you can contact and see how the finished product is holding up. And you should be provided with plenty of photographs showing just how great the tabletops look once installed.
And if you’re looking for a middle ground—an option that falls between the back-alley tabletop seller and the high-end, custom tabletop maker—consider shopping with Have A Seat. We carry a variety of beautiful solid timber tabletops in an array of woods and finishes. All have been treated to withstand the wear and tear of the restaurant and hospitality industries and are sure to be enjoyed by your customers for decades.