How to Buy a Wooden Dining Table

by Liam McGill

How to Buy a Wooden Dining Table

In this constantly growing state of alienation caused by long work weeks and our newfound addiction to technology with smartphones and Netflix. Sometimes it’s nice to sit at a table and enjoy a meal with loved ones with the only distraction being the food on your plate. This guide should hopefully act as a great rule of thumb to ensure that everyone gets a seat at the table.

Why should I purchase a wooden dining table?

Wooden Dining Table - Mainland Furniture

When it comes to dining tables, wood is the best material overall due to it not being affected as heavily by temperature and robust build quality. While materials such as metal, glass and ceramic may look stylish the truth of the matter is that they’re awful to dine on. If it gets cold where you’re from, that top surface can quickly become an ice rink meaning you won’t want to place your arms on top. Furthermore, materials such as ceramic and glass can be irreparably damaged and are extremely fragile. Thus we recommend wooden dining tables for those planning on actually using the table for its purpose, as they require minimal care, are built for centuries, and are less likely to freeze your elbows in the winter.

Measure out your space before you buy!

Before you even consider going out to buy a dining table, it’s definitely worth measuring the area you are planning on placing it first as no one likes having to squeeze into their seat and having to recreate 127 hours to get out. As such, depending on the planned layout, we would recommend giving around 90-100 cm of space between the table and the nearest obstacle. This should provide plenty of seating space while also meaning that anyone can easily scooch by if placed near a walkway. We would also recommend placing the table as far away from any doors that may collide with the table regardless of the clearance when “tidy”, as we are only human and sometimes we struggle to maintain “perfect” appearances.


If you want a dining table but don’t believe you have the space to put one, this guide should help in getting you thinking creatively about the space you’re working with.

Types of Dining Table

You might think buying a table is a simple equation: just buy the first thing that has four legs and a piece of wood on top. But in fact, the type of dining table you purchase can quickly alter how you might consider using the table.


Rectangular

The most common type of dining table, rectangular dining tables are the most versatile in their use and functionality. Perfect for hosting around 6 people or more depending on the size, rectangular tables are great as they can easily host either dining chairs or a bench depending on their use. They also offer a great amount of surface area for people to eat their meals while having the main dish on the table as well, without needing to over-extend to reach. However, while rectangular dining tables are great for their space, that is also their biggest downfall as they require a decent area in order to be properly used. Their shape also makes them awkward to place against a wall as they may either take up too much wall space or jut out too much from the wall. However, if you have the space and the need, there is no wrong in purchasing a rectangular dining table.

Square

Probably the second most common type, square dining tables are great for smaller homes and smaller groups as they mostly always host four people max. The square design also means that they’re always symmetrical so you can easily place them against a wall without the worries that a rectangular table may bring, while also meaning that each guest gets an equal amount of space when seated. However, since squares are equal, that means that getting a square dining table to fit more than 4 people can quickly take up a lot of space. Since square tables are generally smaller also that means they’re mostly paired with dining chairs rather than benches.

Round

Round dining tables are great alternatives for those who may live alone or with their partner, but require the flexibility to maybe host 1-2 extra people due to their lack of edges. As such, round tables are perfect for hosting a handful of people for a small meal or a rotation of people having breakfast, but if you are looking to use one for larger meals you may be better looking elsewhere. The circular shape also heavily limits the seating possible as dining chairs are the only real seating solution possible with this setup, however, the circular shape also opens up where the table can be placed without needing to worry about how far it will stick out or needing all edges available to be seated. The final flaw of a dining table depends on the design, as the circular nature means that any areas of support may be unevenly spread leading to the table flipping if too much weight is applied on one side.

Extending

The final type of common wooden dining table are extending tables. These are great if you need to seat upwards of six people but want to minimize the amount of surface area used. These tables extend either from a butterfly opening in the center or from a surface that slides out from the edges underneath. As such, extending tables generally host the same pros and cons as rectangular tables but with the added benefit of the extendable length. However, another con of extending tables is their general instability compared to their fixed counterparts, as not only are the extension parts of the table affixed to metal hinges and fixings but when extended the tables support becomes far more central making them prone to tipping when too much weight is applied. However, if you need a table that is flexible for expanding to seat more while taking as little floor space as possible, then an extending table is your best bet.

Seating

Dining Chair - Mainland Furniture

What’s the point of purchasing a table if you are unable to sit at it? If you’re in the market for a dining table make sure that you have seating in mind as different seating solutions can provide for a variety of different groups of people.

Dining Chairs

The most basic and obvious, Dining chairs are perfect for hosting a singular individual. However, when purchasing a dining chair consider your options in terms of build quality. What material is the chair made out of? What support does the chair provide, both for your back and for the chair itself? A good dining chair should be made entirely from a solid material such as pine or oak and feature bracing on the lower part of the legs to avoid them breaking if someone were to tip in their chair. Dining chairs can also be bulky to store as their back supports will reach higher than the table itself. Good dining chairs can also quickly explode in price if you are buying multiple, so make sure that if you’re buying a lot to try get a bulk deal or have them included as a suite deal as part of the table.

Bench

If you’re looking to seat a lot of people with a singular chair, then a bench seat may be a great choice. Depending on the length, a bench seat can easily seat between 3-6 people depending on the length and can fit neatly underneath the table itself. Benches are also versatile as you can easily place them underneath a windowsill when not being used and simply move it over once meal time starts. However, benches generally don’t feature any form of back support making them uncomfortable for longer meals unless you plan on placing them against the wall. As such, we would mainly recommend bench seats as a way to add extra seating to a table or as a way to host large amounts of small children at larger family gatherings. But as such, benches aren’t ideal as a main seating solution due to their lack of back support.

Upholstered Dining Chair

The final type of seating solution is upholstered dining chairs. These are like regular dining chairs but feature some form of extra cushioning, either on the seat, back, or both, but still feature many of the pros and cons of regular dining chairs. As such, the main things to look for remain the same regarding build quality and support, however, it’s also worth noting the material of the upholstery. Is the seat covered in fabric or leather? Is the cushioning soft or feel tight like you’re sitting on a trampoline? Upholstered seats are also more prone to wear and tear over time so make sure that if you have any pets with sharp claws that they stay far away. The same pricing idea applies for upholstered dining chairs also, so if you can get them as part of a suite or cheaper in bulk, then do so.

Material


While you may have sorted the type of table and how many you want seated for dinner, choosing the right material can really make or break a dining suite. A table made from bad material can cause all sorts of issues, such as bad build quality, uncomfortable seating or a table that goes from fash to trash without proper upkeep. As such, this next portion will focus on the two main types of wood materials that we sell while again going through their pros and cons.

Oak

The more studier of the two, Oak dining tables are hefty and robust. Thus, for the purpose of longevity, an oak dining table will definitely be unbeaten. However, this excellent build does come at a cost: the cost. Oak furniture does cost significantly more than pine furniture, so if you’re the type to pinch pennies, then these aren’t for you. Oak furniture is also generally made with a soft-touch finish that is lightly textured. As such, if you’d rather a smoother surface we’d also recommend looking elsewhere.

Pine

In a head-to-head comparison, a pine dining suite would easily lose to an oak dining suite, especially in terms of build quality and durability. However, where the pine suite prevails is in price, as a pine dining suite is much cheaper compared to an oak suite. But don’t let this comparison sway you, as a good pine dining suite can make an excellent investment if it’s made with excellent build quality in mind. The surface texture is also sometimes preferred due to its more glossy finish making the table smoother to touch than an oak set. So if you’re not planning on putting your pine dining suite through the wringer, then you should definitely expect an excellent experience from a pine dining suite for years to come.

Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, then you should be ready to purchase the dining suite that suits YOU. Obviously, there are a variety of home and living situations that might affect the type of suite you purchase, so don’t take this guide as gospel. However, what we hope you’ve found by the end of this guide is a dining suite that ticks all the boxes you’re looking for and is now ready to seat the family around the dinner table for their favorite meal. Don’t feel ashamed if the table isn’t used for every meal, even if it’s being used as an impromptu laundry table, at least it’s being used and at least it looks good doing so!


FAQ

How do I clean a wooden dining table?


Obviously, if you’re planning on using a dining table you should expect some spillage on it. Whether it’s gravy from a roast or spilled milk, cleaning a wooden dining table is nothing to cry over. Simply create a concoction of dish soap and warm water, then wipe the surface with a damp cloth dipped in the solution. However, for sticky spots from spilled soda or ice cream, then our guide should help in getting rid of those.


How do I repair scratches on my table/chairs?

Again, the great thing about wooden furniture is its relative easiness to repair. If your table or chair has been scratched over time from back pocket buttons or jewel-encrusted bracelets, to repair it simply requires a trip to the hardware store and a glove. Simply purchase some wood filler from your local hardware store (make sure the filler colour matches the type of wood of your table), then put on a rubber glove and smear the filler over the affected area and let it dry. It’s as easy as that!


I’ve bought the dining table, now what?

Family at dinner - Mainland Furniture NZ

Congratulations you’ve now brought a dining table, a place where the family can all come together for a moment to enjoy each others company. We’d recommend obviously cooking a meal that everyone will enjoy, such as these nachos, or perhaps setting up a board game that everyone will enjoy like Monopoly!


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