What kind of impression to do you want to give in your dining area? Whether you’re looking to make a statement with a piece of furniture that sits at the cutting edge of contemporary design, or perhaps looking for something a little more simple and homey, you’ll need to give thought to the table material.
So, glass, wood or metal? Here, we give you the lowdown on each. This guide to dining table materials should help you narrow down your choice…
Glass dining tables
The pros: create a cool clean look
Your choice of dining table may very well depend on whether you’re starting to decorate your dining area from scratch, or else looking for a table to fit in with your existing décor. In the best possible way, a transparent glass dining table tends to be inoffensive – i.e. it will sit right at home with its surroundings. This is especially the case if clean lines and neutral colors dominate your existing pieces of dining room furniture. If you’ve gone for greys, creams and deep browns for a modern feel, you should find plenty of glass options that will complement this wonderfully.
Another big draw of a glass surface is that most people feel entirely comfortable using it ‘as it comes’; without feeling the need to dress the surface with a tablecloth. The look is smart and formal without being stuffy (and results in less laundry).
You should be able to get your hands on some simple yet effective oval or circular glass pieces for an intimate feel. You’re not limited to total transparency either.
The cons: all those fingerprints!
Glass dining tables are often not the most family friendly option. All those fingerprints can be a real issue (you may find yourself cleaning the surface more often than you would with a wood or metal finish) – and total transparency can be a drawback depending on how you feel about being able to see other people’s legs while they are eating. Modern glass tables tend to be tempered to avoid breakages but despite this, they can still sometimes seem more fragile than wood.
Wooden dining tables
The pros: solidity and reliability
Think of tabletops and wood is likely to spring to mind as the ‘standard’ material (for most people, that is). It’s the material of choice in most homes and for very good reason: it’s attractive, solid and somehow satisfying to sit at.
A good quality wood is always going to stand the test of time. You’ll also find that there’s a wide range of styles available – from clean and simple to beautifully ornate. In the right hands, wood can be manipulated to create a wide variety of effects.
Another big draw of wood is that it’s very safe and easy to handle – which helps make wood the material of choice for extending dining tables (perfect for putting to good use when you’re expecting extra guests).
If you’re looking for a contemporary feel with wood, look out for a dark matte finish with a clean distinctive grain. Simple legs will complete the look. Alternatively, go for a square slab-like surface supported by a central solid block.
The cons: quality is key
The beauty of solid wood is that scratches and stains can be dealt with relatively easily – but that’s if you’re dealing with quality materials and you treat your table right. Depending on the wood type, it will need to be treated from time to time with the correct products. It may also need to be resealed occasionally to prevent erosion of the finish. If you opt for second best – or if you ignore the suggested maintenance tips, your table is going to deteriorate quicker than you’d like! Beware though; solid wood tables can be very heavy.
Metal dining tables
The pros: ultra-contemporary and low maintenance
Although not as common as glass or wood, in terms of cutting-edge design, you’re likely to find that some of the most distinctive dining room table options out there feature a metal finish. The beauty of metal is that it can be fabricated into almost any shape – so the potential options are limited only by the imagination of the designer. Stainless steel gives a clean, almost industrial feel. Aluminum gives a similar appearance but in a lightweight form.
The cons: almost too modern?
Metal tables may be great as a conversation piece and a well-chosen table might be entirely in keeping with the look and feel of your contemporary dining space. However, depending on the piece you choose, the effect might be a little too harsh if you’re looking to retain a sense of intimacy.