In the Know | Wood Table Tops

- May 20, 2019

Wood is the most common material choice when it comes to table tops.

Made from various wood types such as beech, ash, oak and walnut, wood provides a strong and practical surface that can be customised in stain, colour, shape, surface effect and edging.


Step 1: Wood type

Indoor Woods


A hardwood with a faint fine grain and texture. Beech is a more cost effective option and is the most common choice for furniture frames and table tops where a grain is not desired such as painted table tops. All seasoned Beech is FSC and soured from Europe.


A hardwood, lighter in colour and cheaper than oak. Ash wood bends nicely and is commonly used for bespoke tables and bentwood furniture. Sourced from Europe.


A hardwood with two main types, European and Character Oak. Oak wood is popular because of its graining but more expensive than beech and ash wood. Character Oak is oak wood featuring knots and open grains and is one of our most popular table top choices for hospitality. Both Oak types are sourced from Europe although British Oak is available but is more expensive.


A hardwood, very desirable for its grain and dark colour but also very expensive.

For a cost effective alternative, use an ash wood stained to walnut which will show similar graining.


solid wood table top >>
solid wood top - aged ash >>

solid wood top - character oak >>

Recycled / Reclaimed Woods

Made in a variety of ways from used scaffolding boards and floor boards, off-cuts from larger scale wood works to up-cycling existing pieces of wood to create attractive and unique tops. These table tops can be stained, painted, mixed and matched in wood types to produce a unique look.

The choice of recycled table tops also benefits us all by being an eco-conscious option, utilising timber that would otherwise contribute to landfill.

Our in-house design team can assist you with bespoke painted designs, or keep it simple for a close alternative to standard wooden table tops.


recycled table tops >>

Outdoor woods

Robinia & Iroko

Both Robina and Iroko are hardwoods suitable for outdoor use. Often slatted with gaps to allow water drainage or with holes (moneybox style) these wood types are the most commonly used for outdoor tables.


Previously, teak was the most popular choice for outdoor tables and furniture however teak trees are now protected so supply is rare and expensive. Solution - stain an Iroko wood with teak oil for outdoor use to give it a rich teak coloured look.


Iroko slatted table top >>
Iroko slatted irregular table top >>
Iroko slatted table top - metal edge >>

Wooden tops are commonly made from planks of wood.

They can be made in different widths which can be put together to create custom designs.

Thinner planks are often more stable than thicker planks. If planks run along the long edge of a top, they’re known as long grain. If they run across the shorter edge they’re known as short grain. Planks will warp if not reinforced.

The standard reinforcement for planks is called a batten - strips of wood screwed to the underside of the table in the opposite direction to the planks.


Step 2: Wood Finish

Stains, Oils and Lacquers

Your wooden table top is a blank canvas, just waiting for you to get creative and apply a finish to enhance the natural grain or to paint over it and create an entirely new look.

Standard wood stains

Standard range of solid wood stains

A stain is painted directly on top of the timber, is often used to mimic other wood types and requires a clear lacquer to be painted on top in order to prevent and slow down fading over time.

Oil permeates the timber, protecting the surface from damage. It is used to preserve the natural look and feel of the wood beneath and requires regular re-application to maintain the effects of the oil and the properties of the wood.

Lacquer forms a solid, even layer to the top of the wooden surface. There are a variety of different types of lacquer ranging from clear to RAL colours and these come in a range of sheens from very glossy to very matte.

Standard sheen ranges are -

  • 10% matt
  • 20% satin
  • 40% gloss
  • 60% high gloss

The higher the sheen, the stronger the lacquer and therefore the better protected the wood will be. However, scratches will be much more visible in a high gloss finish.

Lacquer can be applied on top of a stain to protect it but not to an oil as the oil will reject the shiny lacquer paint.

Step 3: Wood Effect

Wood surface effects

Kick it up a notch. Now that you have your wood choice, stain & lacquer choice, you can now also decide if you want to add a surface effect.

Wooden surface effects can create a lot of character and bolster your design brief. For instance, charred or wirebrushed table tops are popular for industrial and farm-house style venues. Limed surfaces are popular for clean minimalist interiors, adding a white-washed matt touch to table tops.


Bandsawing timber gives the wood an uneven surface texture and creates a dramatic effect. Popular for rustic-style restaurants and bars where the uneven surface is subtle, mildly inteferring to plates and glasses.



Like sandpapering with a jet stream. Sandblasting gives the wood surface a deep texture and will remove the top layer of the timber revealing colour underneath.


Wire brushed

This effect gives the timber a subtle texture and enhances the depth of the grain. You should only oil finish a wire brushed table top because lacquer will diminish the texture.



To fume timber, it is exposed to ammonia giving it a lightly charred effect.



Charring occurs when the wood is exposed to heat, often with a blow torch, and the surface is burned just enough to bring out all the different textures within the natural grain.



This effect is created using a liming wax and causes the wood to look white washed.


Step 4: Wood Edge

Edge Profiles & Edging

The final step in your table top specification. If you are using a solid wood table top, you can choose to leave the edge bare and choose a profile such as straight, chamfered or Bullnose etc.


The other option is to add an edge. The two most popular edges for wooden table tops are solid wood border (recommended for recycled table tops where the timber is not always straight-cut, requiring a border) and metal edge.

Solid Wood Border Edge



solid wood chevron table top >>

Metal Edge

Metal edging is available in a range of metals such as brass, copper and chrome. As metal naturally expands and contracts, pulling away from the surface of the edge, we must always ensure we attach metal edging correctly.

For solid wood (and stone) table tops, screws must be used, either on the side or underneath the top depending on edge profile.