Table Tops

The choice of table top material is of considerable importance in your restaurant furniture, bar or hotel seating design. They are subject to a considerable amount of wear and tear. The following are some points of consideration:

Laminate tops

Laminate is the preferred choice of table top for many commercial establishments since it is extremely durable, easy to clean and is available in a vast variety of colours and finishes from companies such as Formica (http://www.formica.co.uk).

Laminates should be professionally bonded to a base material such as MDF board with balancing laminates to the reverse side to prevent distortion as specified by the manufacturer. Tops may be edged in laminate or provided with timber lippings. Normal cleaning requires only wiping down with a mild detergent such as washing up liquid and wiping dry. Care must be taken to prevent any moisture penetrating behind the laminate at junctions with timber lippings etc as this will eventually cause the laminate to curl away from the base material. Abrasive cleaners should not be used. Some true wood veneer laminates may be able to receive an epoxy lacquer treatment. In all cases check with the manufacturer the suitability and F.R qualities of the material you intend to use. Avoid use in locations where the tops may be liable to cigarette burns.

Wood

A natural material, which in certain kinds of environment can look better with age and use. If lacquered they should be treated with an acid cured lacquer which will resist the staining of acidic drinks. Normal lacquers once punctured or scratched will allow fluid through and lift the lacquer from beneath. If the wood is to be tinted then it is preferable to use a stain on the timber with acid cured lacquer over the top. Tinted lacquers look fine but once scratched or damaged the true wood colour will show through and it cannot easily be repaired. An alternative, which can maintain its look longer, is to use wood laminated tabletops on an MDF base. These are very hard wearing but can be damaged by cigarette burns.

Teak

The question of looking after teak table surfaces is quite simple. It is a solid wood whicn need to be cleaned with teak oil from time to time to keep it looking fresh. If there are any persistant marks, a careful use of a fine wire wool in the direction of the grain will remove any marks. Afterwards, re oil.

Stainless Steel

In many modern and catering locations stainless steel is an ideal material which will require only wiping down with regular detergent. It is not susceptible to etching by acidic or alcoholic drinks but liquids will mark if not removed. Even Stainless steel can be damaged by abrasion or scoring so abrasive cleaning materials should be avoided and care should be taken when storing or stacking them to avoid scratching of the surfaces.

Marble Tops

Marble tabletops can look very fine but Marble is a porous material and is subject to staining from acidic fruit drinks and can be easily scored and damaged. They can also be very heavy to move if this needs to be done regularly for cleaning. If fitted with cast Iron Bases they should be lifted by these and not by the top as they can easily separate from their fixings. Wipe down regularly with a damp cloth and mild detergent such as washing up liquid. There are some silicon treatments and maintenance kits which can be obtained from which will help to seal the surface and prevent marking.

Granite

Granite is an excellent material resistant to almost anything and looks very fine. It is however extremely heavy if it has to be moved and if dropped or knocked over is liable to fracture and cause damage or injury.

Copper

A traditional and beautiful material sometimes used for bar counters and tabletops. Hardwearing in most bar conditions but requires regular cleaning with a non abrasive household cleaner. If protected by a clear acrylic lacquer care should be taken to avoid spills especially of alcohol or acidic drinks by the use of coasters, wiping up any spills as soon as they occur. Do not place hot items on the surface. Small blemishes may be removed by light buffing with 0000 gauge steel wool followed by a light spray of acrylic lacquer.

Marmoleum

(http://www.forbo-flooring.co.uk)
Made from wholly natural and renewable materials such as Linseed oil and wood flour, this traditional flooring material can create long lasting and colourful table surfaces. It is liable to cigarette burns but these can sometimes be removed with mild abrasive cleaners.