What types of finishes can be used on restaurant table tops? FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

FAQ's From the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

Restaurant table tops can be finished with any finish available on the market, the question becomes more which should they be finished with. We’ve broken down the ins and outs of the three most popular finishes for solid wood tables to help you figure out what is the best finish to select for your restaurant tables.

Varnish is commonly used in the residential and commercial furniture sectors. Varnish is an oil-based wood finish that has been in use for centuries, while it has been around for some time, it can be a process to use. Before application can begin, all bubbles need to be stirred out of the varnish to avoid being transferred to the table top. When applying, end users should take care not to overbrush. Too many brushstrokes can be visible on the finished product. The varnish also has a slower drying time (ideally 10-15 hours between coats) than that of lacquer, running the risk of dust settling and corrupting the finishing process. Therefore, it has become a common practice to thin the varnish before use. After dry time, varnish is an extremely durable finish for highly used furniture pieces such as bar counters and restaurant table tops. But this lengthy wait time is a drawback for mass production, leading varnish to mostly be used by DIY-er’s and custom residential projects.

Lacquer is a popular commercial finish that comes in a variety of transparent sheens on many restaurant table tops. Lacquer uses resin-based liquid solutions that quickly dry into a hard film when exposed to oxygen by way of a catalytic agent. In the restaurant industry, most lacquer formulations include a catalytic agent. When the lacquer is dried, the catalytic agent allows the finish to form a more protective and durable coating. To apply, lacquer is typically sprayed on with its quick dry time of 5 to 10 minutes making it time efficient for manufacturers. A lacquer finish can easily be repaired with a trip to the hardware store by the end user since the table top normally does not need stripped down. On our table tops, we typically finish them using a three-part application of catalyzed lacquer sealer and top coat.

Polyurethane finish is one of the most durable restaurant table top finishes because of its similar characteristics to plastic. Polyurethane finish takes on many of the positives of varnish and less of its drawbacks. This finish can be oil or acrylic based, depending on the blend, making it chemical resistant and waterproof. This finish is applied with a brush and involves waiting four to six hours between coats. After applied, the polyurethane is harder and more durable than lacquer. You can often find polyurethane finish as an upgraded option because of the detailed processes it takes to apply. While there are different formulations of polyurethane, on our products, we use a commercial-grade formula as a premium on option on all our solid wood table tops.

Finish Comparisons

Which finish should you use on your table tops?

The answer is not so cut and dry. It all depends on what your intended use is for your table tops.

  • If you’ve been collecting antique tables to give your restaurant a certain look, it’s likely they will have a varnish finish because this method has been around for many years. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that these tables are not commercial-grade, which could present structural issues with the table itself in the future.
  • If you’re a restaurant owner in need of basic solid wood tables for a swiftly approaching open date, then a lacquer finish will do just fine. Lacquer-finished tops are easy to repair should something happen to them.
  • If you’re putting quite a bit of money down on specialty tables and want to increase their resistance to water, chemicals, and body oils, a polyurethane finish would be your best option. This modern finish is formulated to resist standing liquids caused by spills and cleaning.

There are pros and cons of all finishes, but in the end what will determine the ideal finish for your table tops is how you plan on using them.

How Do You Attach a Table Base and a Table Top? FAQ’s from the files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

A column attached to an X-style base.

It’s time. You have received all your furniture, unwrapped it all, and made sure that you have everything that you need. Now it is time to tackle the assembly. One of the most daunting tasks can be assembling table tops and table bases. Don’t worry, attaching a table base and a table top is easier than you might think.

The first step, whether you are assembling an indoor or an outdoor table base, is to take the bottom of the base and attach it to the column. To do this, simply place the column on top of the center of the base and screw the bolt in until it is completely tightened. Next, turn your table top upside down on a flat surface. If you have a single base you will then center the spider. The spider is the smaller, usually square, flat part of the base. Once you have the spider centered onto the table, begin screwing in your eight screws until the top is secure. Each base comes with eight screws per spider. To install this you will need a Philips head screw driver or drill bit.

Purchasing a larger table top might require the use of multiple bases or a double base. You will repeat the process but instead of centering the spider, the bases need to be between 6 to 12 inches from the edge of the table top. This process works for table tops on both table height and bar height bases.

A table top placed on the floor with a base centered over the table top ready to be securely screwed in.

If you are assembling an outdoor table top and base, there are a few adjustments you’ll need to make. First off, most spiders for outdoor tops are an x-shape.(insert picture) Once the column is assembled, place the spider onto a table top that has been turned upside down on a flat surface. With our New England collection, the table is attached using an Alan wrench is provided in your shipment.

The table might have pre-drilled holes that your base lines up with and that you can use to attach the base. Some bases may not line up with the holes depending on your top and base combo. If this is the case, you will have been provided self-tapping screws to allow you to create your own holes. Make sure the base and table top are completely secure before use.

These instructions are based upon the furniture produced by East Coast Chair & Barstool. If you have purchased your commercial furniture elsewhere instructions may vary.

If you are still experiencing issues with attaching your bases and table tops purchased from East Coast Chair & Barstool please contact our service department at 800-986-5352 for help.

New Product Alert!- Quarter Sawn Table Tops Have Arrived

We are pleased to announce that we are adding Quarter Sawn White Oak table tops to our solid wood collection!

What makes these table tops so different from the wood tops that we currently offer? Well, it is the unique way the wood is cut called quarter sawing.Quarter sawing is a type of cut that can be done to logs when they are sawn into lumber. This style of sawing gets its name because the log is first quartered lengthwise, resulting in wedges with a right angle ending at the center of the log. Each quarter is then cut separately by sawing boards along the axis. The results of this unique cutting process is the boards take on a straight striped grain line. In addition to a different style of grain, the cut creates greater stability than flatsawn wood.

Greater stability is one of the biggest benefits of this line of wood table tops the quarter sawing process gives the wood extra strength making it less likely to contract, expand, or warp. Wood is a natural material and contains some degree of moisture. Wood can warp when its moisture content changes. Exposure to differing temperatures, as well as the humidity of the surrounding air can lead to changes in the wood.

Our table tops have a 1 ½” edge and is available in a variety of sizes both square and round. They are built by our in-house Amish craftsmen and hand stained using one of our three different stain options, Michael’s Cherry, Bourbon, and Briar. These stains were specifically created to showcase the unique grain pattern that is part of this wood’s claim to fame. Once the stain is in place we use a coat of heavy catalyzed lacquer sealer and then a coat of a 10 sheen catalyzed lacquer top coat to make sure that your table is looking its best and holding up to the rigors of commercial use.

To make these beautiful table tops yours head on over to our Quarter Sawn Wood Table Tops page and start shopping!



How Do I Clean My Restaurant Table Tops? FAQs from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

Cleaning table tops

Restaurant furniture is built tough. The wear and tear that commercial furniture has to endure is far greater than the six chairs and table in your dining room. Because of this heavy usage, commercial furniture also comes with a responsibility. These pieces need to be maintained and properly taken care of to last to their full lifespan. We’ve put together this short guide to help restaurant owners learn a little more about cleaning their table tops.

Laminate table tops should be cleaned with warm water and soap (or detergent) mixture each day and dried with a soft cloth. Spills should be wiped up quickly to avoid further harm to the table. A combination of mild cleaner and baking soda can be used to remove stains from the surface with a stiff nylon brush.

Resin table tops should be cleaned daily with warm water and a mild detergent. Because of the texture of the table, resin tops should not be used with tableware that has unglazed bottoms. To remove scratches, use a toothpaste and car buffer or toothbrush to even out your table top.

Wood table tops can be maintained with mild soap and water. Whether it’s reclaimed, urban distressed, or butcher block tables, harsh cleaners and chemicals should not be used on these tops. These chemicals can harm your wood grain and create a gummy film on your table tops.

IsoTop and Werzalit table tops can be used indoors or outdoors and have a very similar cleaning procedure to other table tops. Soap and water can be used to wipe these tops down between uses. If being used on a patio, IsoTops can also be hosed down with other outdoor furniture.

Poly lumber table tops are very easy to maintain with soap and water. To remove leaf stains and other environmental elements, a wet Magic Eraser can work wonders to buff out the stain. These tops can even withstand a gentle pressure wash.

Stainless steel table tops should be cleaned with soap and water and then dried off as soon as possible. These tables should not be exposed to constant moisture, which can ruin the silicone seal around the edges. Taking proper care of these tops can provide multiple years of seasonal use.

Table top maintenance should be an everyday chore for you and your staff. By taking the time to upkeep your restaurant furniture, it can save you time and money in the future.