Written By Simon Kleban on Friday, May 10, 2013 | 5:36 AM


Folding tables are versatile design features for any space because they allow rooms to be adapted to changing needs. The most common concerns with folding tables are that they last and are easy to move, but the usefulness of folding tables is enhanced even more by considering how the tables work with the room layout and how the table design fits with functionality. Getting an idea of what kind of folding table will work best takes answering five basic questions.

Question 1: How is it made?
How durable a folding table is depends on the quality of the materials; well-constructed and well cared-for, a folding table can last for decades. The kinds of materials used also affect the weight of the table and, therefore, how easy it is to move.

For the tabletop, the best material option is plywood. Other materials are available, but with undesirable flaws: molded plastic (weak construction), metal (heavy), or particle board (flakes or breaks in chunks, along with being heavy). Plywood wears well without breaking or cracking. Because of its strength, plywood tops can be thinner, making them lighter and easier to move, while it still can support thousands of pounds of weight.

Most of the weight on the table is carried on the base. High-quality folding tables use steel pipes for the table chassis, extremely strong while light enough to be moved easily. Powder coating the base protects against rust and wear, so the table can be safely used outdoors.

Question 2: How is it going to be moved?
Folding tables can be rearranged, stored, and placed indoors or outdoors for different purposes. The usability of folding tables hinges on how easy the tables are to move:

o Weight. For durable, lighter tables, look for plywood tables with 5/8" thick tops; a 6' long plywood table can weigh as little as 40 lbs.

o Shape. Plywood, rectangular folding tables are usually light enough to be carried by two people. Round tables can be rolled by one person. (One thing to consider for round tables: get aluminum edging instead of vinyl, which pocks and chips when the table is rolled.)

o Carts. For large or heavy folding tables, manufacturers sell special carts to properly store tables and move them easily. Even regular dollies can move heavy tables more easily with fewer people.

Question 3: What is it going to be used for?
Not all folding tables are designed the same; there is a variety in styles, specialized for different uses. Match the expected folding table functionality to the best-fitting designs. General seminar tables provide seating down both sides and, with modified leg positions, on the ends. Training tables are narrower, 18" to 24" instead of 30", with C-leg bases for better leg room and seating down only one side. Presentation tables have a modesty panel for privacy screening along the front. Folding tables can custom-designed, like for cocktail or card tables.

Question 4: How is the room laid out?
Table shape effects how the room and seating can be laid out. When designing the layout of a room, consider three things:

o Clearance between tables for seating and walking. There should be 42" between table rows, 36" between the back of a chair and the wall, 24" of room for each person at the table

o Seat positioning, like being able to see the front of the room or other people at the table. Seminar tables accommodate small group interaction, while training tables making seeing presentations or speakers easier.

o The number of people to seat at any one table and throughout the room. Round tables fit slightly more people than rectangular tables of comparable size. However, round tables don't provide the visibility of training tables.

Question 5: What kind of special situations do you want to accommodate?
Folding tables are ideal solutions for special accommodations. Folding manufacturers can even custom-build folding tables to meet specific purposes for special heights, widths, or shapes. For example, the average table height is 29" or 30", but folding tables can come in alternate heights, like 36" or higher for wheelchairs, 22" for children, or 42" for cocktail tables. Contacting the folding table manufacturer gives an idea of how much flexibility there is in designing folding tables.






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