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The Complete Guide to Folding Tables

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Marina

Feb. 04, 2024
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If you’re looking for tables that can be easily stored away and moved around, then you’ll want to purchase folding tables. But, there are surprisingly more options than many people realise. So, if you want to make sure you buy the perfect folding table for your public building or venue, then read Rosehill’s complete guide to folding tables now…

What is a folding table? 

We realise that this may seem like a question with a blindingly obvious answer, but bear with us. 

Why? Because, there are in fact three main types of folding table currently available on the market:

Folding tables with folding legs

These are the types of tables you’ll typically see used at public events and functions as they tend to be lighter in weight and can be easily moved and stored away. 

In many instances, these types of folding tables can be stacked together on special trolleys, making them easy to move and store in bulk.

Folding tables with folding legs tend to be mainly used for events where their large table tops are ideal for spreading out promotional literature or goods for sale etc. However, they can also be used for seated working and dining.

In other words, these are your classic folding tables that you’ll see used at summer fairs, job fairs, student open days etc.

Having said all that however, there is a new generation of folding leg tables which are being designed to compete with traditional fixed-leg tables in terms of their robustness and quality. 

These include what are known as ‘t-bar folding tables’ and ‘a-fold tables’ which can be used for working, dining and other tasks in a way that you can’t with older-style, lightweight folding leg tables.

Folding tables with folding table tops (flip-top tables)

One of the other main types of folding table is folding tables where the top folds. The legs remain in the upright position and will often have castor wheels so that the table can be rolled aside when not in use. 

These types of folding table are also known as ‘flip-top tables’ and will often be found in use in more permanent settings such as conference and training centres, schools, colleges, and offices. 

That’s because this type of folding table is more substantial – akin to a regular desk or table – but with the added convenience of a folding table top. 

Flip-top tables can’t be stacked in the same way as folding tables with folding legs, however they can be nested together in order to maximise upon your available storage space. 

Note – some manufacturers are beginning to push the boundaries of flip-top tables, introducing new models where the table top flips downwards to create a much slimmer-profile table (when folded). The perfect example of these new innovative flip-top tables is the Kite flip top available at Rosehill.

Collapsible folding tables

There are also folding tables where both the legs and the table top fold away. These tend to be known variously as collapsible tables, bar tables, exam tables or games tables.

They tend to be used in conjunction with one or two chairs to provide a temporary dining or working area (e.g. exam desks). However, they are less substantial than flip top tables. 

Like folding tables with folding legs, collapsible tables can often be stacked together on special trolleys in order to make them highly movable and storable.

So, as you can see, there’s more to folding tables than meets the eye!

Outdoor folding tables

It’s important to note that in addition to the above different types of folding tables, it’s also possible to buy folding tables which can be used outdoors. 

These can be categorised as follows: 

  • Folding tables that can be used outdoors on an occasional basis, but should be stored indoors. 

  • Folding tables that can be used and left outdoors all-year-round.

Folding tables that are designed for outdoor use all-year-round tend to have features such as special nano coatings which are weather resistant, materials that can withstand UV rays and more.

Guide – for more information on outdoor furniture, read our commercial outdoor furniture buying guide.

What are the parts of a folding table? 

Folding tables, as you would expect, share many parts with standard fixed-leg tables, but because of their folding characteristics, do have some unique features.

Whilst every folding table is different, in general you can expect a folding table to have: 

  • A table top.

  • Legs.

  • Folding mechanism.

  • Feet caps.

Some other features that’ll you occasionally find on a folding table, include: 

  • Brace(s) – these are used to provide additional strength to the table’s legs.

  • Apron – these are sections of material which sit horizontally beneath the table top, connecting each corner. They provide additional torsional strength to the table.

  • Linking – these are usually tabs which allow folding tables to be connected (these are sometimes standard or an optional extra depending on the table you select). 

Do I need a folding table? 

One of the most common questions we get from customers is whether or not folding tables are right for them and their venues/public buildings. 

After all, it’s entirely possible to buy standard tables which can be nested or spiral stacked (see image below for example). 

Whilst these tables are very practical and useful, it can often make sense to purchase folding tables if you intend to move and store your tables on a regular basis

Of course, the main point to take away from this is regarding storage. If you have limited space to store tables, then a folding table – of whatever variety – will always be the best option. 

That’s why folding tables have become so popular in recent years with a wide array of different buildings and facilities from church halls and conference spaces to offices and higher-education institutions. 

What are the advantages of folding tables? 

Folding tables have a number of distinct advantages over other types of tables. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying they’re always the best option, but if the benefits below resonate with you, they could be your ideal option. 

Folding tables create additional space

If you want to create a multi-purpose space within your building, then folding tables can help you do so. 

Compare them to traditional fixed-leg tables. When these aren’t in use, they take up a lot of space and prevent a room from being used for other purposes. 

Folding tables change this dynamic and they can be removed and stored fairly quickly – far quicker than fixed-leg tables.

Folding tables can also help you create a multipurpose additional space. How? Well, if you buy two different sets of folding tables, of different shapes and sizes, then you’ll be able to do a lot more things with your space.

Folding tables are simple to move, store and use

By their very nature, folding tables are far easier to move, store and use – especially when compared to traditional fixed-leg tables (folding tables also tend to be much lighter than fixed-leg tables). 

As folding tables can fold down into smaller dimensions, they can be easier to handle and move around; they don’t have the same ‘bulkiness’ as fixed-leg tables.

Folding tables are also incredibly easy to deploy, with the majority of models ‘unfolding’ in less than a minute (or quicker!). 

As we’ll point out in more detail later, many folding tables are compatible with table trolleys which make storing and moving them super easy.

Folding tables are perfect for flexible working spaces

If you run or work for a business that regularly makes use of freelancers or temporary workers e.g. if the business often scales up to accommodate new projects, then folding tables are the perfect way of creating flexible working spaces. 

When needed, they can be deployed to provide additional desk space. When not needed, they are easily tucked away for the future!

What to think about when buying folding tables

So, now that we’ve looked at the different types of folding tables and their benefits, let’s have a look at the things you should think about when buying folding tables for your public building, office or venue. 

Folding table materials

First and foremost, you’re going to want to check the materials that your chosen folding table is made out of. 

Folding table frame and leg materials

Depending on the exact model you choose, you’ll tend to find that folding tables have either aluminium or steel frames. As you would expect, aluminium frames are somewhat lighter and tend to be found on lightweight, lower priced, folding leg tables. 

Likewise, you tend to find steel frames on the more-robust, higher-end, flip-top tables. This is because these flip-top tables are designed to be on a par with traditional fixed-leg tables – but with the added convenience of a folding top. 

Note – regardless of which table frame and leg material you choose, it’s generally possible to have your table’s frame and legs finished in a variety of colours.

Folding table top materials

Today’s folding tables are available with table tops which are made from, and finished with, a range of materials. 

The types of folding table top materials you can find, include: 

  • Polyethylene plastic

    – folding tables with polyethylene plastic table tops are hard wearing, long lasting and can be easily wiped down and cleaned and are suitable for outdoor use.

  • Standard laminate

    – these table tops consist of a wood core (often MDF, chipboard or plywood) with a laminate plastic surface. This creates a table top which has the feel of a wood table top, but is also easy to clean.

  • Melamine-faced chipboard (MFC)

    – melamine-faced chipboard tables feature a chipboard wooden core which is then sealed with a melamine compound. This is not only easy to clean, but is highly-stain resistant.

  • Solid-grade laminate (SGL)

    – is different from other types of laminate table tops, as the entire table top is made from laminate. As a result, these table tops are extremely strong, water-resistant and scratch-resistant. They are also thinner (most commonly 12mm) which provides a modern, designer look. SGL tops are also suitable for outdoor use and arguably the hardest wearing option.

  • Plywood

    – you may be surprised to see plywood on this list, but some folding tables feature a plywood table top as this slightly rougher surface is ideal for preventing tablecloths from slipping – making it the ideal surface for when you’re displaying at events etc.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the different types of materials used to create folding table tops – however, these are the most common types of table top you will encounter.

Note – in addition to the table top itself, you should also check extra details, like what edging (if any) a folding table top has. The inclusion of high-quality edgings made from materials like rubber or aluminium, can considerably extend the life of your tables. Table edging is particularly important for circular folding tables, as people often roll these types of tables on their edge to move them – so a tough edging matters!

Folding table finishes and colours

You not only want to make sure that your chosen folding table’s legs, frame and top are made from a good quality material, you want to check what finishes are available too.

Below, we’ve set out some key bits of information that you’ll need to select table tops, legs and frames in the finishes you desire.

Folding table leg finishes

As we’ve written previously, many commercial tables (be they folding or fixed-leg) are available with different finishes including chrome plating and epoxy powder coating (more commonly referred to as EPC).

Chrome plating imparts a lustrous, deep shine on the legs and frame of a folding table – but it’s only available in one colour, chrome!

EPC on the other hand, is available in a huge range of colours, so it can be easy to select a folding table that complement’s your building’s decor. What’s more, if you can’t find the finish you want, then in many cases we can create the colour of your choice using our RAL colour matching service.

Folding table top finishes

Just as the legs and frame of your folding table can be provided in a range of finishes, your table top can be as well.

The types of finishes you can have on your table top will be largely governed by what the table top is made out of. 

It’s important to note however, that the range of table top finishes will often vary depending on the type of table you select. For example, more-budget oriented tables will often have only one finish to choose from. For higher-end tables such as conference and office folding tables you’ll generally have a choice of about three to five finishes. For cafe folding tables, you’ll generally find a much larger range of finishes to choose from.

The types of finishes that can be found on folding table tops include wood effect finishes such as oak and beech (ideal for neutral office environments), as well as bold, bright colours and even stone-effect finishes such as anthracite.

Note – you can find the various finish options of our folding tables on each product description page.

Folding table weight

Once you’ve established that your chosen folding table is made from materials of sufficiently high quality and that the finishes you want are available, the next thing you should do is investigate the table’s weight. 

Whilst you want your table to be robust and long-lasting, you also don’t want it to be enormously heavy – you’re most likely buying a folding table for its ease of portability and storage after all.

Now, it’s important to remember that the weight of individual folding tables varies considerably. For example, if you’re looking for a basic table with folding legs to use at various events you’re exhibiting at, then you should expect it to be much lighter than a flip-top table which, with a 25mm thick top, will provide a higher-end look but which will be heavier. 

To make things easier for you, where possible, we have listed the weight of our folding tables in the product description (simply click the ‘technical specification’ tab). Where the weight of a particular folding table isn’t listed, contact us and we can generally find out for you.

Folding table dimensions

If you’re working with limited space in your venue or building, then this is a crucially important point to investigate. 

Not only should you check the height, width and length of your chosen folding table, but you should investigate how much space is required to fold and unfold the table. For storage rooms, the size of a loaded trolley is important too.

Where you are buying flip-top tables, you should check to see how they nest together and how much space they take up when nested. Again, if you can’t find these details on a particular product’s page, contact us and we can obtain this information for you.

With regards to folding table dimensions, you should also check whether your selected tables are available in different heights and table top sizes. This can help you accommodate the widest possible range of people.

Here at Rosehill, we make it easy to see whether or not a folding table is available in different heights and sizes. Simply look for the drop down menu in the product description as per the illustration below:

Ease of set up

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Related to the above two points about weight and dimensions, you should give some thought to how easy your chosen folding table is to set up. 

Questions to answer on this point, include:

  • How many people are needed to move and unfold the table?

  • How easy is it to move the table? Does it have attached castor wheels or will it need to be carried? 

  • How

    easy

    is it to unfold? Does it have a simple folding mechanism? 

Answer those questions and you’ll go a long way towards selecting a folding table that is practical and easy to use in your venue, public building or office.

Folding table attachments

One of the great things about folding tables is that they allow you to quickly and easily transform multi-purpose spaces. 

But, to ensure that you have the most room layout options available to you, you should check what attachments your chosen folding table comes with. 

By this, we mean does the table come with linking tabs or bars? Does the table include castor wheels for ease of movement? 

It can also be handy to look for folding tables which are available with a number of different shape table tops (as part of a single range of tables), which will allow you to create many different table configurations in your space.

Folding table trolleys

If you’re going to be buying a large number of folding tables for your public building, venue or office, then you’re going to want to check if your chosen folding table has a compatible trolley. 

An increasing number of folding table ranges now include trolleys which are designed specifically to accommodate those tables in the most efficient way.

Where a trolley is available for a particular folding table, we will typically list it at the bottom of the table’s page in our ‘You may also like’ section:

We also have a dedicated section of our website which lists most of the table trolleys that we have available. However, even if you don’t spot a trolley to go with your chosen folding table, we may still be able to get one. Contact us and we can conduct a search of our complete product catalogue.

Now that we’ve looked at the main things you should think about when selecting a folding table, we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions we received about folding tables. 

What shape folding table should I buy? 

The shape of your folding table is more important than many people realise. The shape of the table that you choose can fundamentally affect the way you can layout tables in your event space etc.

Below, we take a look at some of the most common table top shapes and their particular uses.

Round and semi-circular shaped folding tables

If you’re running a hospitality venue or a conference or events venue that regularly uses cabaret style layouts, then round and semi-circular folding tables are the perfect choice. 

Round and semi-circular shaped folding tables allow everyone to sit in a circle, inducing and inspiring conversation and making it easy to speak to people beyond those immediately to your left and right. 

In many cases, round or semi-circular folding tables will be available in various diameters (e.g. four seater, six seater, eight seater variants), meaning you can mix and match table diameters to allow you to seat the maximum number of people comfortably and safely in your room/space. 

Rectangular and square folding tables

Do you often need to create many different configurations in your room/event space? Then choose square or rectangular folding tables. 

This is because, thanks to their straight edges, rectangular and square tables are easy to join together in many, many different configurations. Another benefit of their straight, flat sides is that square and rectangular folding tables can be pushed up against walls, maximising the use of available space. 

Square and rectangular tables are often available in varying widths and lengths, meaning you can select a mix of dimensions that make the most of the space you have available.

Other folding table shapes

Increasingly, we are seeing manufacturers of contract furniture experiment with folding tables of unusual shapes. These include 72º segment table tops, quadrant, corner and semi-circular table tops, and shapes that are even more adventurous. These are perfect to complete configurations for large meeting rooms or conferences.

So, when you’re selecting a folding table for your venue, don’t just restrict yourself to square and round tables. You really can let your imagination run wild!

Folding table maintenance

We often receive questions from customers around folding table maintenance. Because folding tables feature a folding mechanism, there’s a misconception that they require more maintenance than regular fixed-leg tables. 

That isn’t necessarily the case. 

Folding tables are designed to be robust, long-lasting and to require minimal maintenance. 

Having said that though, just like any other item of commercial furniture, we’d always recommend carrying out periodic inspections of your folding tables. This is especially true if your folding tables are going to be experiencing heavy usage. 

Some recommended checks for folding tables include: 

  • The folding mechanism. You’ll want to ensure that this moves freely and isn’t hindered by any blockages or detritus. If necessary, apply a very small amount of oil-based lubricant to the hinges.

  • Check the table top is securely attached to the frame and legs.

  • Inspect the table edging and ensure that it is fully intact.

  • Check the table’s legs and feet to ensure that they are fully intact and still providing a stable footing.

Folding table cleaning

Just as a table will benefit from occasional inspections and basic maintenance, a folding table will also benefit from regular cleaning. 

Keeping your folding table clean is straightforward, with a damp cloth usually being sufficient to clean the legs and frame of the table. 

When it comes to cleaning the table top, the way you clean it will depend on the surface. If the table has a laminated, plastic or MFC surface, then a basic cleaning solution will do the job. 

Be sure not to use harsh cleaning agents on any part of your folding table. Although contract-quality folding tables can put up with a lot of abuse, we’d always recommend steering clear of heavy or industrial cleaners.

The best folding tables UK

With so many different folding tables available it can be a struggle to select the very best one for your particular premises. 

So, to help you in your selection, the Rosehill team has detailed below some of the very best folding tables you can buy in the UK right now. 

Kite Folding Tables

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The Kite is, in our opinion, the most cutting-edge flip-top table currently on the market. 

With a convenient flip top, the Kite can be quickly and easily assembled by a single person, with no need for a trolley to move the table. The Kite’s mobility is enhanced further by the fact that it has castor wheels and a narrow profile when folded.

Talking of the castors used on the Kite, they truly are unique pieces of technology, with a dual-locking feature, rubber wheels that work on all surfaces, and 2-inch levelling to provide stability on uneven floors.

The Kite is also available with recessed power options, making it easy to plug in laptops or other devices from a sitting position at the table.

Thanks to the Kite’s range of different table tops (including the 750 Kite, the 750 Rectangle, 750 Square and 750 Semi-Circle), it’s super easy to create a unique, yet highly-practical table layout in your space.

Oh, and we forgot to mention, the Kite is uber-stylish too. If Apple made folding tables, we reckon they’d look something like the Kite…

6ft Lightweight Rectangular Folding Tables

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If you’re looking for a more budget-oriented folding table, then consider our 6ft Lightweight Rectangular Folding Table. 

This folding table features a simple, easy-to-use folding mechanism and at only 14kg, is easy to handle, carry and store.

Featuring a polyethylene plastic top, this table is easy to clean and maintain and won’t split, chip or stain making it ideal for a wide range of contexts, from dining or working to displaying or presenting.

To make things even better, this folding table comes with a 10-year guarantee. So, if you’re looking for a great all-round folding table, then choose this one!

Note – this folding table is also available in an extra wide version, a 4ft rectangular version and a 3ft square version. Other options include circular, corner and moon options. We also offer package deals on this table.

Gopak Contour Folding Tables

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Are you looking for a great all-round folding table, but with a slightly more refined finish than our 6ft Lightweight Rectangular Folding Table detailed above? 

Then take a look at the Gopak Contour. 

This is a folding table which features robust, but lightweight aluminium legs, and a laminated top which is available in a large range of finishes including natural finishes such as oak, teak, beech and maple. The table top is also available in bright, bold colours including poppy red, pea green, fuchsia, snow grit and many more. 

The Contour is ideal for a variety of settings, especially education or community centres with youth groups for younger age groups, as it’s available in various table heights including 508mm, 546mm, 584mm, 698mm (standard adult height), and 760mm. It’s also available in a range of different sizes including 3ft, 4ft and 6ft.

The Contour is also available with a choice of two trolleys which make moving and storing the Contour a breeze.

TX Folding Tables

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As we mentioned earlier in this article, there is a new generation of folding-leg tables being launched onto the market that are far more substantial than traditional models. 

In short, they’re folding leg tables, but with the heft and quality of permanent fixed-leg tables and desks.

The TX is one of these new generation folding leg tables. 

This is evident in its premium finish, with tubular steel legs and 25mm thick, scratch-resistant, impact-resistant table top with ABS plastic edging. 

If you’re looking for high-quality office tables or desks, that can also be easily moved and stored away, then choose the TX.

The TX is also highly customisable with the legs and frame being available in chrome, black, white and silver, and the table top being available in white, oak or beech finishes.

A-Fold Tables

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Another of the new generation of high-quality folding leg tables is the A-Fold.

As its name suggests, the A-Fold features stylish A-framed legs which can be easily folded beneath the table top when not in use. 

Thanks to its contemporary, Nordic styling and the wide range of finishes the A-Fold is perfectly suited for use in conference rooms, executive lounges and other high-level contexts.

The A-Fold is also available with different shaped table tops, including rectangular, circular and ‘d-end’. It’s also possible to upgrade to timber legs, as well as specifying accessories like modesty panels and bridge sections. 

If you’re looking for the ultimate folding conference table, you’ve just found it in the A-Fold.

Arch Folding Tables

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If you’re looking for a folding table that can be used outdoors, then consider our Arch folding table. 

The Arch is a firm favourite amongst hospitality businesses such as pubs, cafes, restaurants and bistros as it features a classic design – with wrought iron legs and robina wood slats – but is also immensely practical, with a simple folding design. 

The Arch is available in three different sizes: 

  • 700 x 700 Square – able to seat between two and four people.

  • 800 x 800 Square  – able to seat between two and four people.

  • 1200 x 700 Rectangular – able to seat between four and six people.

The Arch is also available as a dining set with matching Arch folding dining chairs.

Where to buy a folding table?

Having read all of that, are you ready to buy folding tables for your venue, public building or office? 

If the answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. 

Here at Rosehill, we supply high-quality folding tables to all parts of the public sector, private businesses large and small, and community groups, not-for-profit organisations and churches and places of worship the length and breadth of the UK. 

Not only do we offer highly-competitive prices on our items of furniture, but we are also able to offer bulk buying discounts on many items.

If you’d like to find out more about any of our items of furniture, then contact our friendly, expert sales team on 0161 485 1717 or by email at: sales@rosehill.co.uk

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For more contract furniture buying guides, information and advice, read the Rosehill blog

Commercial Outdoor Furniture Buying Guide | Restaurant Furniture Buying Guide | Wooden vs Metal vs Plastic Stacking Chairs: Which Is Best for Your Public Building? 

Shapes of Folding Tables

Round and Oval Folding Tables

Round and oval tables allow patrons and guests to face each other as they're sitting so they can easily converse with one another. Versatile and functional, they're great for anything from parties and banquets to conferences. They're also perfect for completing the seating layouts of fine-dining events or wedding receptions. However, while they help break up a room for aesthetic appeal, they do reduce the overall seating capacity of the establishment.

Square and Rectangular Folding Tables

Square and rectangular tables have right angle edges that allow you to push multiple tables together for added seating. Extra tables with the same height and similar top fit flush against each other for a seamless look. Plus, they allow you to fit more patrons in an area in comparison to other table shapes.

Quarter Round Folding Tables

Quarter round tables combine the benefit of a square or rectangular table's straight edges with the additional surface space of a round or oval table. Their straight edges allow the tables to be set up against walls, giving you more space in the center of school classrooms or dining areas. When not used for seating, these tables provide counter space for food displays or paperwork.

Serpentine Folding Tables

Mainly used for buffet presentations, serpentine tables have straight ends with curved centers. This design adds dimension for visual appeal and allows you to draw attention to any items placed on the table's surface. Serpentine tables also help ease the flow of materials and guide patrons in buffet lines. Use it to showcase drinks and desserts, or transform it into a carving station for banquets.

Round and oval tables allow patrons and guests to face each other as they're sitting so they can easily converse with one another. Versatile and functional, they're great for anything from parties and banquets to conferences. They're also perfect for completing the seating layouts of fine-dining events or wedding receptions. However, while they help break up a room for aesthetic appeal, they do reduce the overall seating capacity of the establishment.Square and rectangular tables have right angle edges that allow you to push multiple tables together for added seating. Extra tables with the same height and similar top fit flush against each other for a seamless look. Plus, they allow you to fit more patrons in an area in comparison to other table shapes.Quarter round tables combine the benefit of a square or rectangular table's straight edges with the additional surface space of a round or oval table. Their straight edges allow the tables to be set up against walls, giving you more space in the center of school classrooms or dining areas. When not used for seating, these tables provide counter space for food displays or paperwork.Mainly used for buffet presentations, serpentine tables have straight ends with curved centers. This design adds dimension for visual appeal and allows you to draw attention to any items placed on the table's surface. Serpentine tables also help ease the flow of materials and guide patrons in buffet lines. Use it to showcase drinks and desserts, or transform it into a carving station for banquets.

The Complete Guide to Folding Tables

Folding Table Buying Guide

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