What Top? Types of Wooden Table Tops

Posted by Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 01-Aug-2017 10:58:49
weathered style wooden table tops in a restaurant

We love wooden table tops - they are robust, last for ages, look better with a bit of wear and can be made to match pretty much any interior design scheme.

Wooden table tops materials



Oak has an attractive grain that comes in two types:

  • European Oak with few if any knots and available in 25mm or 32mm thickness.
  • Character Oak with more knots and splits which are supplied filled for practical reasons. Character Oak is around 20% more expensive and only really available 32mm thick.


Around 20% cheaper than oak, ash is a great alternative with good grain detail, but often stained (to mimic other woods) rather than used in its natural state. Ash is also more sustainable than oak because it produces a high quality and durable timber from fast growth.


Inexpensive, but can be unstable and bland relative to the alternatives. Young beech is also not as stable as ash or other alternatives.

Robinia and Iroko

Hardwoods suitable for outdoor use, often in a slatted form with gaps. Now also being used more widely indoors. (Iroko pictured).


Was widely used for outdoor furniture but Teak trees are now better protected so Teak table tops have become rare.


A rich deep brown, with character, but usually prohibitively expensive.

Reclaimed Timber

Typically from scaffolding boards, giving a random mismatch of colours.

Veneered Tops

A veneer is a thin layer of wood glued to a cheaper wooden core. It is typically half the cost of a solid wood alternative.
A wide range of wood-veneers are available and can be laid at different angles creating interesting patterns or just straight.



Wooden tops, usually come in the following thicknesses, although other thicknesses can be supplied. In our experience 32mm is the perfect thickness for hospitality settings.


Laminate Tops

Laminate literally means layered. A laminate is a sheet material glued to a cheaper, wooden core. What appears to be a single layer is actually a number of even thinner layers of which one is the colour or pattern. Laminate tops are available vast ranges by various suppliers. Suppliers include: Polyrey, Formica & Eegger.wooden-table-tops-laminates.jpg

The pros and cons of using laminates & veneers in hospitality furniture

Laminates and veneers tend to give a smoother finish and are less likely to split than solid wood as they do not warp. This also makes them an ideal option for adding metal edging. Note that as laminates are produced in sheets there will be size restrictions or joining lines for large table tops.

The core of a laminated or veneered table top can be MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard), plywood or chipboard. Chipboard is the least satisfactory option, as it’s a poor fix for screws connecting the top to the base and should be avoided for this reason. It may also be worth considering moisture resistanant MDF for outdoor purposes as MDF will expand when wet; even indoor tables are susceptible to moisture through the edges.

Table top Heights

Always consider the total height of a table which has to combine the height of the base and the thickness of the top. In extreme circumstances the central underside of wooden tops can be routed to reduce this height. See our blog on table heights for more information.


There are many ways to finish solid wood tops; simple seals and lacquers are most popular, but you can also choose from a long list of unusual finishes. These include distressing, scorching, band-sawing, liming and sand-blasting.  Read our upcoming blog on table top effects for more.

Solid Wood tops can be created to most shapes and sizes and tend not to need complicated edge detail, although deeper edges can be added with good effect. Solid Wood tops typically are 20 to 25mm thick, which can easily be doubled by adding an extra edge layer dropping down below.

Table bases

Solid Wood tops can be fitted to most bases, but as many solid wood table tops require reinforcing strips underneath (these can be visible, particularly on smaller tables) the base must be considered when tops are specified.

Outdoor wooden table tops

Solid wood is a good material for table tops for outdoor use - as long as the tops are manufactured for this use, and we recommend slatted tops for outdoor use to allow water to drain . Traditionally, outdoor furniture was often made of teak, but this is getting harder to responsibly source and therefore is going up in price. Alternatives include less-well known hardwoods such as Robina and Iroko. Outdoor solid wood tops require regular oiling and even then may weather, usually to a grey colour.

Increasingly there are stylish, good quality alternatives to outdoor wooden table tops.

hospitality furniture knowledge book cover

Make better, quicker, decisions by viewing wooden table tops in person

We have many solid wood table tops and samples on display at our Hammersmith furniture showroom. Please get in touch with our friendly and helpful team by calling freephone 0800 8494 135. Alternatively, if you're looking for more information about tables but don't want to speak to us direct, simply download our Hospitality Furniture Knowlege book and learn pros and cons of furniture materials, current style trends and tips and tricks of the trade. 


Topics: tables, wooden table tops


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