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Laminate Table Top Options For Restaurants, Cafes & Hotels

laminate table top options

Laminate table tops are topped by a thin layer of sheet-material. This layer, cut from a sheet of laminate, is of a man-made material developed specifically to be hard-wearing, making them ideal for hospitality venue table tops – as a result, we recommend them wholeheartedly.  Laminate sheets are available in a huge variety of colours, patterns and finishes (including wood and marble-effect) and generally are not expensive.

Construction of laminate table tops

Laminate sheets are thin (around 2mm), so for table tops they need to be glued to the top of a rigid core. This core is ideally of water-resistant MDF, but might also be standard MDF or plywood. These are available in various sheet thicknesses, with 15, 18 and 25mm being commonly used. Chipboard cores should be avoided, being particularly susceptible to moisture, and also being a relatively poor fixing for the screws necessary to connect the tops to their bases.


Laminate Table Tops Types and sizes

Numerous brands of laminate are available – The Contract Chair Co tends to opt for Formica, Egger, Polyrey & Arpa, as well as Fenix, which vary considerably in price but all offer a wide variety of colours, patterns and finishes. The actual properties of each vary too – some for instance are ‘anti-fingerprint’; Not all laminates are suitable for tables tops, with some being designed to be used on walls, making them too thin for use as a table top.

Laminate sheet sizes are around 3050mm x 1300mm, although there are many (usually small) variations to this. These sheet sizes do mean that very long table tops will have a join somewhere on their surface.

Click on the following links to browse laminate finishes: Formica, Egger, Polyrey, Arpa, Fenix.

Edging on laminate table tops

Without a specific edging solution, the core material under a laminate table top is visible. This can be a cheap and effective solution – usually the core is chamfered back, giving a sleek appearance; bare MDF can be lacquered and the layers of plywood create a striking design effect.

The most popular finish for the edges of laminate-topped tables is to add a thin strip of material to match or compliment the top, giving the whole top a solid appearance (these matching edging strips will limit the depth of the top to 40mm or less). Bear in mind that not all laminate sheets have a matching edge strip available. A similar and, in our experience, more popular, solution is to edge a laminate top with a strip of solid timber, giving the top the appearance of being made of that timber.

Wooden-look laminates

A wood-effect laminate offers advantages over a solid wood top, being more practical, not likely to warp or split and probably cheaper; some are almost indistinguishable from the real thing. Care has to be taken with edging wood-effect tops, as matching edging may not be available; a solid wood edge is a popular route.  As with real wood, more textured laminated surfaces are more difficult to clean.

Real wood laminates (blurring the boundary between laminates and veneers) which have a thin layer of real wood in them are also available.

Marble-look laminates

Because of the frailties of natural marble, many alternatives have been developed that can be used for table tops; one of these is marble-effect laminate. As with wooden-look laminates, thought is required to ensure that the edge detailing is appropriate; metal-look strips (actually plastic) or real metal are regular requests.

Read our blog: 11 Alternatives to Marble Table Tops for options other than laminate.

Solid Core Laminates

Solid Core Laminate table tops have a core with an appearance of a thicker version of the laminate top. This core is man-made, like plastic and is particularly tough as well as being waterproof, making Solid Core tables popular for outdoor use. Because of its strength, Solid Core tops are slim – typically only 10 or 12mm thick, giving a sleek appearance.

The edges of Solid Core tops are straight, rounded or chamfered (giving them an even sleeker appearance). As the tops of Solid Core Laminates are factory-bonded to the core, there is a narrower choice of finishes; the core material itself is mainly brown or black, sometimes white.

The toughness of these tops makes them difficult to attach to table bases, as they are not easy to screw into; as a result tops can be supplied with pre-drilled ‘female ‘ inserts; the alternative is to use fixing plates glued to the underside of the top, into which the base is screwed.

Topics: Tables

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 04/11/19 15:04
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