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Outdoor Table Top Options

Outdoor table top (2)

Choosing table tops for outdoor use can be a difficult task. Some materials are better in terms of aesthetics and others are more durable. In this article we will explore the ways in which these materials differ and also delve into options for each, so you might find the best one that will suit your needs.

Outdoor Table Top Materials

  • Wooden tops: Wooden table tops look beautiful inside or out, but outdoor wooden table tops mellow with age and exposure to the elements, becoming a shade of grey. They require maintenance and regular oiling to maintain their natural/original patina, and only some wood types are suitable for outdoor use. 
  • Metal tops: Metal tops are very robust, but might be prone to rusting depending on the metal type, so only painted Aluminum or Stainless Steel are suitable. Moreover, metal tables should not be used in conditions of extreme heat, where they can grow too hot to touch.
  • Laminates & Artificial Wood: Engineered tops are man-made materials, which are usually robust and require little to no maintenance. Though engineered tops can mimic organic materials, they lack the true feel of authenticity in touch. The main types of engineered outdoor table tops include: Solid core laminate tops, Versital (made of resin,) and Topalit (laminate.) 

Wooden Table Top Types


Only some wooden table tops are appropriate for use outdoors. Most of these have slatted tops with gaps to allow water to drain, and are treated with oil rather than lacquer (which can deteriorate quickly when water gets underneath it. ) Almost all are made of hardwood, the most popular varieties are the following:


Iroko is a low cost alternative to Teak, readily available and can be customised in size, shape and finish. Its attractive colour now makes it a popular timber for outdoor table tops.


Robinia is a favourite of ours – a sustainable wood that is grown across many parts of the world. Native to the south-eastern United States, it has been widely planted and naturalised across the globe, introduced into Britain in 1636. It is so successful that it is considered an invasive species in some areas.  The fact it is so fast-growing (as well as being very hard) makes it an attractive, sustainable alternative to tropical hardwoods. Robinia benefits from regular oiling to avoid splitting.


Traditionally a very popular choice, teak was once abundant and has been used for furniture of all types for centuries. Its close-grain resists warping and splitting. Old-grain teak is now carefully protected, with teak plantations providing the bulk of timber for modern furniture production. Teak table tops are typically ready made in bulk and limited in size and shape offering. Though customisation is possible, this is usually very costly.

Metal Table Top Types

Metal can be prone to rusting, so the main criteria in looking for a good outdoor metal table top is resistance to the elements. Though metal can withstand high heat, it can quickly become hot to touch. On the flip side, in subzero environment, joints of lesser metal can be prone to cracking. There are two main types of metal tops that are great for outdoor use:

Painted Aluminium

Painted Aluminium is great for coastal areas as aluminium will not rust. It requires little to no maintenance and is also light enough to move around for areas that require versatility.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is heavier than aluminium and is a better choice for areas with windier conditions. It is also very durable and will not rust like normal steel, which makes it a great investment for heavy duty outdoor use.

Laminates & Artificial Wood

Engineered table tops are man-made materials that are developed to be hard-wearing and are generally more affordable than organic materials and require little maintenance. They are, therefore, a great choice for large hospitality venues that see huge crowds.

Solid Core Laminates tops

Solid core laminate tops are made from thin sheets of recycled paper fibres that have been dipped in resin and dried. These sheets are then stacked and sandwiched between laminates before being compressed under high pressure and heated to permanently meld together, making solid core laminate tops particularly tough as well as waterproof. Because it's so tough, you can't screw directly into it, so adding ply or MDF fixing plates allows the top to be fitted to any base easily. There are Easyfix systems on the market that can accommodate most bases for a seamless look - see an example, here.

Solid core laminates top are available in a vast array of designs, are impact resistance, and have hypoallergenic properties. Although white laminates can be affected by UV light in hot climates, other colours are resistant to fading. Read more about laminate table tops, here


Versital table tops are high quality stone resin table tops that are available in many different shapes, sizes, and colour options. They can also be made to mimic tops like marble, granite, or metallics. Developed to withstand difficult weather conditions, these surfaces are easy to clean and anti-bacterial, making a great alternative to porous stone tops, which require regular resealing. 


Topalit table tops are moulded laminate tops. These tops are free from joints, which make them entirely waterproof as well as impact and heat resistant - this includes a resistance to cigarette burns and UV lights. Like Versital, they are treated to a gel coat which provides 99.9% protection against infection. Topalit tops are available in a number of different colours and finishes, including wood and stone. 

See our outdoor table tops in person

At the Contract Chair Company, we have many outdoor table top samples on display at our
 Hammersmith furniture showroom. Alternatively, you can download our Hospitality Furniture Knowledge booklet to learn more about the pros and cons of furniture materials, current style trends, and tips and tricks of the trade. 

For further reading on related topics, please see below:

Types of Wooden Table Tops 

Wooden Table Tops: Finishes & Effects

Outdoor Furniture Care


Topics: Tables, Outdoor furniture, Furniture care

By Tiffany Chan on 04/04/22 15:26
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Hospitality Furniture Knowledge book

Searching for table sizes, wood finishes, researching chair materials or simply wondering what furniture will work best in a restaurant or hotel space? This book is packed with over 10 years of knowledge from the contract furniture industry.

What you'll learn:

  • Furniture specification tips
  • Space planning
  • Materials & considerations
  • Table top finishes & edge profiles
  • Chair robustness, testing & more

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