When it comes to setting up an event on the fly, nothing can be more handy than a folding table. Whether you need seating for a group of people, need a place to serve food, or just feel like eating dinner in the backyard one night, a folding table will serve your needs. Their versatility and portability makes them extremely useful in a variety of situations.
As you can imagine, there are many different folding table types and designs available. As such, we have compiled a buyer’s guide to help you sort through the options and choose the best folding table for your needs.
Folding Table Comparison – Quick Reference
We understand that many of our readers may already have a good idea regarding what they are looking for in a folding table, and instead of detailed information are just looking for a quick folding table recommendation from someone who is well versed and has done the research for them. If this is the case, we have created a quick reference chart to save you from having to read the entire article. If you are instead looking for more detailed reviews and information, skip the chart and read on!
What is a Folding Table
As the name implies, a folding table is a table that folds up to make it more portable and easier to store. Usually the legs fold into the top, and sometimes the top folds in half to make the table even more compact when not in use. Functionally, it performs exactly like a normal table when in use. When not in use, it folds neatly to allow you to store it in your garage, shed, or closet.
The most common materials for folding tables are plastic, wood, and aluminum. Each material has advantages and disadvantages.
Plastic folding tables tend to be the least expensive as they are the least costly for manufacturers to make thanks to many advances in plastic manufacturing over the past few decades. In addition, they are resistant to rust, staining, moisture, and even sunlight in many cases. Another nice feature of plastic tables is that they are extremely light weight. The downside to plastic is that it can tend to warp over time due to heat and use, even when mated to a steel frame. From a cosmetic standpoint, plastic tends to look less expensive as well, which may or may not be a problem depending on your tastes.
Wood folding tables are very common for banquet halls and other locations where tables are stored on site. This is because wood topped folding tables tend to be the heaviest out of commonly found materials and aren’t typically as portable as their plastic and metal counterparts. Wood folding tables typically have an MDF (medium density fiberboard) top with a thin wood grain pattered laminate glued on top of the MDF to improve cosmetics. These tops are typically supported by a steel frame and legs underneath. Wooden folding tables typically look nice and can look more at home in formal settings should you decide to go without a tablecloth. One downside is that over time the laminate can chip or wear, exposing the MDF underneath. This can create obvious and very visible cosmetic blemishes.
Aluminum folding tables are the least common, but offer several advantages. They maintain the light weight of plastic with the strength of wood. They are widely considered to be the most durable folding tables. This is why aluminum folding tables are commonly used for camping and other rugged activities. Aluminum is typically resistant to moisture, sunlight, and corrosion. Perhaps the only downside to aluminum tables is that they tend to be more costly than plastic or wood tables due to increased material costs. Despite this fact, depending on your intended activity, aluminum tables are often worth the added cost.
There are many different uses for a folding table. One of the most common uses is as a serving table, which is ideal for events such as weddings, picnics, and outdoor parties where you intend to serve food. Along these lines, they can also be used as dining tables, otherwise known as banquet tables, to provide seating for groups of guests which make them ideal for catered company events or company booths at conventions.
Another common use is as a card table or gaming table. Because conventional dining room tables tend to be rectangular, they don’t lend well to playing games since the people sitting at the heads of the table are usually pretty far away from the action. To combat this, a folding square card table can be set up so that everyone is equidistant from the other players and the game space. This is crucial for multi-player games like poker, bridge, and many board games.
Less common uses include TV tables and ironing boards. Personal TV tables are nice if you want to set up shop while sitting on your couch. Personal folding tables work just as well for eating dinner as they do for setting up your laptop and knocking out some late night work from home. Ironing tables tend to be long and thin and tend to be purpose built for only that task.
Last but not least, we would be remiss not to mention that folding tables are often the table of choice for drinking games, due to their easily replaceable nature and the damage that some drinking games can impart. So, get a folding table if you want to be able to confidently play Quarters, Flip Cup, or Beer Pong. We won’t judge, we promise.
Reviews of the Best Folding Tables
National Public Seating BT3000 Series
As far as the best plastic folding tables go, it is tough to beat the National Public Seating BT3000 Series tables. These tables feature a single piece, non-folding plastic top mated to a steel frame and legs. The legs fold into the top for easy nesting and storage. The legs also feature sliding gravity locks (don’t let the name fool you, sometimes you have to slide them by hand) to prevent your table from folding on itself and collapsing while in use.
The top itself is 1.75″ thick and sports a speckled gray finish. This finish is nice as it helps to hide imperfections and keeps your table from looking worn over time. Also of note is that the table can withstand extremely high heat (up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit). It also makes an ideal table for outdoor usage thanks to its UV (ultraviolet) light resistance.
The BT3000 series is also available in three different lengths. The BT3060 comes in 60″, the BT3072 comes in 72″, and the BT3096 comes in 96″. We find that for most people’s needs the 60″ BT3060 is sufficient and is the best balanced between portability, ease of storage, and tables space. As far as capacity, these tables sport a weight holding capability of 1000 pounds (800 pounds for the BT3096), so long as you ensure that this weight is evenly distributed across the table top.
Regarding value, the National Public Seating BT3000 series tables represent one of the best folding table values around. They are extremely versatile, long lasting, and easy to use. We give them our highest recommendation for just about any type of use.
Office Star Multipurpose Center Folding Rectangular Table
The Office Star Multipurpose Center Folding Table is another terrific folding table. The table top is made out of blow molded resin. The table top is white, however the shade of white nicely masks small imperfections and keeps the table looking sharp over time. The table top resists abrasion and can also withstand impact pretty decently, so it can take some abuse. As such, you shouldn’t hesitate to use it outside or inside.
When in use, the table legs can be locked into place using sliding collars. When you are ready to retract the legs and fold them up for storage, it is very easy to slide the collars out of the way to unlock the legs. The legs are quite sturdy as they are made out of steel. They resist rust thanks to their gray powder coat finish (which tends to be much tougher than normal paint since powder coat is usually cured by a baking process) and are sure to last you a long time.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of the Office Star table, and the reason that a little bit of extra cost is justified versus the National Public Seating BT3000 series reviewed above, is that the table top folds in half. This means that after you fold the legs into the top, you can then fold the top in half to drastically reduce your storage length. This is extremely ideal because it allows you to more easily transport a longer table in your car. As such, if you have a small car, the Office Star folding table is an ideal choice. Another notable feature is the padded handle strap which allows you to carry the folded table one handed in similar fashion to the way you’d carry a briefcase.
When it comes to value, we think it is certainly worth the extra coin relative to the National Public Seating tables above if you even so much as think that you will need to fit it in tight spaces. The total cost difference is pretty minimal and when averaged out over the long run we’d consider the cost difference negligible, especially if the folding top and one handed carry capability make your life consistently easier.
Lifetime 34″ Square Folding Table
If you’re looking for a table that is slightly smaller in size, the Lifetime 34″ Square folding table makes an ideal choice. Like the two tables above, it features a plastic top that is impact and scratch resistant. This is thanks to the HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) material that is used in both medical devices and aviation. The top is also UV resistant, so outdoor use should be no problem.
As far as sizing, the table measures 34″ per side. This sizing makes this an ideal card table or small serving table. The benefits to this size are that it is light weight and easy to travel with. Additionally, a padded cloth handle makes this table portable with one hand and makes it easy to carry.
There are four steel legs that support this table, each with an over-center bar locking mechanism to prevent the table from collapsing. These legs, in addition to the frame, are powder coated in order to prevent rust. The legs are capped on the bottom with rubber pads to protect your floor so you can set this table up worry free on hard wood floors.
We rate the value for this folding table as high, especially considering that the manufacturer offers a 1-year warranty. Overall, we give this our recommendation as the best folding card table around and think you’ll be highly satisfied.
We hope that this guide to choosing the best folding table has been helpful to you. While we have chosen our favorites above, we should also mention that there are many other great options available. If none of the above options quite suit your needs, take a few moments to have a look at other available folding tables by clicking here. Thanks for reading!