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How To Buy Good Quality Wood Furniture, Like An Expert

The best quality wooden furniture can last a lifetime, so it is important to understand how to choose top quality and what to consider before you buy anything. If cared for properly, wooden furniture can even improve with age. It is also an environmental friendly, renewable resource, with organic warmth and appeal.

It is easy to be swayed by cheap wooden furniture or wooden composites, but you won’t get the same longevity as you would from choosing a well-crafted or solid wood furniture piece. But a high price tag isn’t necessarily an indicator – poorly prepared wood or low-quality cuts can undermine your good efforts. The trick is knowing how to tell good quality wooden furniture from bad quality, no matter the price.

Price is not always an indicator of quality when buying wood furniture, and there are other mistakes people make during the buying process.

1. Hardwoods Vs Softwoods

‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ do not reference the durability of a wood, but rather the source. Some hardwoods, like aspen or poplar, are softer than softwoods.

Hardwoods come from deciduous trees–trees that seasonally lose and grow their leaves–such as parota, oak, birch, maple, teak and mahogany. The grain is typically tighter, hence the wood is stronger and denser and ideal for carving and fine details.

Softwoods come from cone-bearing or needle-bearing trees–conifers that stay green in the winter–which include pine, cedar, cypress, and redwood trees. In appearance, the grain is more open and are easy to work with. But the wood tends to be lower quality and has a soft surface, making it susceptible to marks and dents, which reduces the lifetime of your furniture.

HIGH QUALITY: Hardwoods typically make better quality solid wood furniture, and are ideal for outdoor use.

LOW QUALITY: Softwoods tend to be cheaper and don’t last as long.

2. Understanding The ‘Lingo’ Of Wood Types

  • Solid wood: completely made of wood, or a solid natural cut.
  • All-wood construction: visible parts of the furniture are made with wood.
  • Veneer or wood-cladding: a natural, thin cut of wood is bonded to plywood or particleboard. Make sure you ask if it is a real wood veneer or a faux veneer, which tend to be reproductions.
  • Combination: more than one type of wood is used to make the exposed parts of the furniture.
  • Engineered wood: is generally divided into two groups; plywood is made from glued-together slices of lumber, while particleboard or fiberboard is made from waste products such as chips and fibers.
  • Artificial laminate wood: made from plastic, paper or foil and printed with a fake wood grain pattern, generally glued to particleboard.

 

HIGH QUALITY: Solid wood

LOW QUALITY: Artificial wood laminate

3. How To Discern Wood Quality

Choice generally comes down to preference of wood appearance and budget, but you should be aware of certain factors if wood quality is important to you:

–Avoid particleboard, pressed wood or fiberboard. If you choose plywood, it should be at least nine layers thick. The downside to these cheap wood composites is that their production requires toxic products, such as heavy glues.

–These days, veneers are used even in expensive furniture, which is where a thin piece of premium wood is placed over a lower-quality wood. Although veneer is common and a cheaper way to get real wood in your house, the downside is the limit on the number of times it can be refinished and the possibility of the veneer coming off with time. It also won’t last a lifetime. There are ways to buy higher quality veneer, for example, choosing a thicker wood cladding than the standard. When purchasing veneer furniture, you should inquire about the base material. Check the underside of tables, pull out drawers or slide out shelves to check areas that are not covered by the veneer. If the base wood is inferior, such as particleboard or a softwood, the furniture may warp or split over time. You should also look out for gaps and loose spots between the veneer and base material by running your fingernail along the edge; if the veneer is not tight, it will pop off eventually.

–Avoid knottier woods, such as pine, which are considered less desirable. Some experts say to avoid knots altogether, as they are susceptible to cracks, but today many professional craftsmen are able to expertly incorporate knots into designs and control the spread so they evolve as natural artworks over time.

–You want a surface that is relatively scratch resistant, which can be testes by drawing a thin line with your fingernail on the furniture. If it leaves a visible dent, this is not good quality.

–If the wooden furniture is upholstered, look for quality in the springs, the type of stuffing, and the structure of the support base.

HIGH QUALITY: solid wood

LOW QUALITY: thin plywood (less than 9 layers), particle board, fiberboard, pressboard, and soft-wood surfaces that dent easily.

4. How To Check Quality Of Construction

Furniture caters to every possible taste but quality is what really sets furniture apart. Quality also determines how long your furniture will last–from a couple of years to a lifetime– and how well it will retain its looks through daily use. Quality is also an indicator of comfort, which is not something you want to skimp on.

Join construction is one of the most important determinants of quality in the furniture industry. When buying wooden furniture, look at the joints to see if there is visible glue, staples or nails – these are all signs of poor quality.

Dowels–wooden pegs fitted into opposing holes–and screws indicate better quality. but the best joints to look for are dovetail– interlocking squares – and mortise and tenon–one piece is cut to insert into a hole in another piece.

The corners of table legs or chair legs should have a triangular reinforcing block attached at an angle, unless some other design feature is used. This is because butted and mitered joints tend to be weaker and cannot bear heavy wear unless reinforced, besides stabilizing the furniture and keeping the joints square.

You should also check for sturdiness and alignment – make sure a table doesn’t rock, or that draws open and shut easily. You can double check stability by applying pressure at the diagonals.

GOOD QUALITY: dovetail, mortise and tenon, reinforcing corner blocks,

MEDIUM QUALITY: dowels, screws

LOW QUALITY: staples, nails, visible glue.

5. How To Take The Proper Measurements

It is surprising how many people still guess measurements by eye – and end up with colossal furniture that becomes the literal ‘elephant in the room’. There is no set industry standard for furniture dimensions, so you can’t rely on that either.

Other mistakes include not accounting for enough space to move around the furniture, and not taking measurements from the proper place.

For example, if you are measuring the ideal dining table size for your room, you should allow for a space of at least30–36 inches (76cm) to exit and enter the table. You should measure from the edge of any obstruction, such as a door, window or other furniture – not always the wall. Read more on how to measure the dining table you need.

Similar mistakes are made when matching table and stool heights – amazing chairs are no good if you can’t squeeze your legs under the table. You usually need a minimum of 9 inches but if you want to cross your legs, too, then you’ll want at least 12–13 inches of space. We go into detail in our guide to calculating the right table and chair heights.

And then there’s the issue of making sure the delivery company can fit it in your house once it arrives. If you can’t fit furniture through a stairwell, door, window or balcony, you should consider ready to assemble (RTA) furniture.

6. Choosing Certified Wood & Green Furniture

Contrary to some beliefs, wood is one of the most sustainable materials for buying furniture; this interesting article shows the environmental footprint of each furniture type, or check out this infographic comparing the sustainability of materials. Wood is renewable and naturally decomposes in a short time, unlike any other resources, although new alternatives are constantly being developed.

But the sustainable benefits of wood are negated without the right environmental practices in place. This means it is important to only buy from companies that use certified wood, which means that it has been cut according to local environmental controls and laws.

Additionally, with increased awareness of health and environmental issues comes increased responsibility. Substances used in certain wood products, such as toxic glues and varnishes, have an impact on air quality in your home – and the environment. Thus ‘buying green’ seems even more important today, besides the fact that natural materials give a nicer warmth and organic feel than other furniture types, and are easier to maintain. For example, PAROTAS uses a blend of oils to finish our wooden furniture pieces and preserve its natural beauty. See some examples of our wooden furniture here.

 

© Parotas.com

PAROTAS combines a team of carpenters, designers and architects to produce high quality and sustainable wooden furniture. We use certified wood sourced from Mexico and abroad. Contact PAROTAS to ask about your custom furniture or design project.

A Guide to Standard Table and Chair Heights

Average standard table heights vary between countries and companies, so it’s important to check supplied dimensions before buying furniture online, or take your own measurements. You can also contact your contractor to take measurements of your space and offer recommendations on the best dining table height and size for your design.

Matching your table and chair height is important for guests to feel natural and have space to move their elbows and cross their legs. Below we list the general standard table and counter heights for dining, kitchens, living rooms, offices, bathrooms and more. You can also read how to calculate the best table size for your room.

What Is Standard Table Height?

There is no exact industry standard for table height, although many companies produce furniture in line with average table and chair heights sold in their country.

In any case, doing your own measurements and calculations are important, especially if you’re trying to match table and chairs from different suppliers. If you’re opting for custom furniture, below we explain in detail how to calculate table and chair height are below.

Average Table
Height Range
Standard Table
Height (inches)
Standard Table
Height (cm)
Standard dining table height 28–30 inches30 inches76cm
Standard kitchen table height 28–30 inches30 inches76cm
Standard counter height 34–39 inches36 inches91.5cm
Standard bar table height 40–43 inches42 inches106.5cm
Standard coffee table height 18–20 inches20 inches51cm
Standard side table height 22–30 inches25 inches63.5cm
Standard console table height 24–42 inches30 inches76cm
Standard nightstand height 24–28 inches25 inches63.5cm
Standard office desk height 28–30 inches29 inches73.5cm
Standard bathroom counter height30–36 inches32 inches81cm

What Is Standard Chair Height?

Similar to table height, there is no definite industry standard for chair heights.

Chair heights generally range up to 17–19 inches (43–48cm) from the chair leg to the top of the seat, while stool heights can range from 16–23 inches (40–58cm) due to their minimalism. These chair heights are standard to fit under tables from 28–30 inches (71–76cm). You should also account for any apron (support beam) under the table.

For comfortable seating, it is recommended to allow at least 9–13 inches (23–33cm) between your table or counter and the chair seat, with 12 inches (30.5cm) being a spacious allowance.  This allows guests to comfortably cross their legs under the table.

Average Chair
Height Range
Standard Chair
Height (inches)
Standard Chair
Height (cm)
Dining table chair heights 17–19 inches 18'45–50 cm
Kitchen table chair heights 17–19 inches18'45–50 cm
Desk chair heights 17–19 inches 18'45–50 cm
Counter chair heights 24–26 inches 24' 61cm
Bar chair heights 28–32 inches 30' 76cm

Calculating Standard Table & Chair Heights

Below are some examples of comfortable chair heights to match certain standard dining heights. For more space, consider stools or benches as a seating choice.

Standard Dining
Table Heights
28 inches29 inches30 inches32 inches36 inches40 inches42 inches
Standard Chair Heights15–19' 16–20' 17–21' 19–23' 23–27' 27–31' 29–33'

How to Measure Table Height

Standard table height measurements are taken from the floor to the top of the table or counter. This means you need to consider a lower chair height if you have a thick table top or overhanging counter.

How to Measure Chair Height

Standard chair heights are measured from the chair legs to the top of the seat surface. You do not include the height of the chair back or armrests in your measurements, unless you plan to slide chairs fully under the table or counter.

If you are choosing chairs with armrests, allow around 7 inches (18cm) between the armrest and the underside of your table or apron.

Bench seating is measured in the same way. The ADA sets a standard bench seat height of 17–19 inches (43–48cm) above the floor.

Standard Dining Table Height

Standard Dining Table Height

The standard dining room table height is around 28–30 inches (71–76cm) from the ground to table top surface.

Formal dining tables tend to be closer to 30 inches, while informal dining table heights average around 29 inches tall. Older tables also tend to be lower, around 28–29 inches.

Varying the height of a standard dining height can feel unnatural, however slight. This is sometimes caused by placing a very thick table top onto a standard base height, so considering these aspects is especially important when deciding measurements for custom furniture.

Low Dining Table Height

If you opt for lounge-style or low seating – with seat heights below 16 inches (40cm) – you may be able to fit a lower dining table height of around 26 inches (66cm).

Standard Kitchen Table Height, Islands and Counters

Kitchen table heights are the same as dining table heights, around 30 inches (76cm).

However, if you want seating for a kitchen island or counter, you should consider a taller height. Counter table heights are usually set at 34–39 inches (86–99cm), with 36 inches (91.5cm) being a standard size. Read more on how to calculate the ideal bar or counter stool height.

Standard Kitchen Table Height

Standard Console Table Height

Console tables are often pushed against a wall or behind a sofa, so these aspects influence the standard console table heights. In general, a console table should be not taller than the sofa back height, and can be up to 1 inch (2.5cm) below.

For entry console tables and buffet consoles, aim for around 33 inches (84cm). Otherwise, console tables are typically the same height as dining tables (28–30 inches).

TV consoles are typically higher. For optimal TV viewing height, measure around 42 inches (107cm) from the floor to the TV’s centre and calculate your ideal console height. This allows for a sofa seat height of 18 inches, plus 24 inches which is the general eye-level of an adult in a relaxed seating position.

Standard Coffee Table Height

Coffee tables are usually set at around 18–20 inches (45–50cm) high, to create a comfortable balance between standard sofa and chair heights.

Otherwise, the standard coffee table height is usually the same height as the cushions on your soft, or within 1–2 inches (2.5–5cm) lower.

Other design rules include leaving a walkway space of 12–18 inches (30–45cm) between your coffee table and sofa, plus choosing a coffee table that is around two-thirds the length of your sofa.

Standard Coffee Table Height

Standard Nightstand Height

There is no standard nightstand height as it is typically tied to the height of the mattress. However, the most common bed height is around 25 inches (63.5cm), and most nightstands range between 24–28 inches (61–71cm). Tables don’t have to be identical heights, but should be within 2 inches (5cm) of each to create visual balance.

From a laying position, it is more comfortable to raise your arm than lower it. For this reason, the average nightstand height is measured to line up with the top of your mattress or up to 2–6 inches (5–15cm) higher.

Standard Side Table Height

Standard Side Table HeightSide tables are functional furniture pieces used for lounge seating or hallways, so measurements change depending on surrounding furniture and the function, for example, setting down a drink or placing a lamp.

Standard side table heights are usually designed to be equal to or just below the height of sofa armrests, which are around 25 inches (63.5cm), although this varies widely so exact measurements are important. Most side tables are between 22–30 inches (56–76cm).

A general rule is keep your side table height to within 2 inches of the sofa armrest height; for example, if a sofa arm is 24 inches high, an appropriate side table height would be 22–26 inches. although if you can’t find an appropriate side table height for your sofa, aim for shorter rather taller, to make it easy to set a drink or book down.

If you plan to use the side table for a lamp, choose a side table height so that the base of the lampshade isn’t higher than eye level when seated next to it. If the lamp won’t be at an eye-level, consider a side table height that works with surrounding furniture, lamp size or ceiling height.

There are exceptions where taller side tables can work, for example, if there is a set of side tables where at least one is below the armrest height, or the side table serves another function in a high-ceiled room or hallway.

If your sofa has no armrests, calculate the standard side table height in line to where the arms would be, or choose a table at the same height as the seat height.

Standard Bathroom Counter Height

If you’re installing a bathroom counter, the standard height is around 34–35 inches (86–89cm). If you plan to install a built-in vanity, you may consider lowering it to the standard 30 inches, for chairs with a seat height of 17–19 inches.

Bathroom vanity cabinets are usually a standard height of 32 inches (80cm), although range from 30–36 inches. Newer, modern vanities are sometimes higher, starting at 36 inches (91cm), referred to as ‘comfort’ vanities because you don’t need to bend to wash your hands.

The Americans with Disabilities Acts sets the minimum and maximum standard vanity heights at 29–34 inches (with built-in sinks).

Standard Bar Table Height

Bar tables range in height from 40–43 inches (102–109cm), although 42 (107cm) is a typical standard bar table height. You can comfortably customize a bar table height up to 44–47 inches (112–119cm) for an modern look, although consider a higher bar stool height as well. We provide a table of standard bar stool heights.

Standard Office Desk Height

Most work desk heights are between 28 and 30 inches, which is really only a suitable height for people from 5 ft 8 inches to 5 ft 10 inches (173–178cm) with a conventional desk chair. Standard desk chair heights range from 16–21 inches (40–53cm).

This is obviously not an ergonomic option for everybody. If you are taller or shorter, consider a different desk height, rather than choosing a different chair. Adjustable desks, for example, allow a range of 22–33 inches (56–84cm).

The Proper Office Desk for Your Height

If you spend long hours sitting, the right office desk height is important for comfort and posture.

Your desk and chair height should be matched so that in a seating position, your arms rest at a comfortable 90 degree on the desk. To find the right position, the chair should be adjusted so the seat top sits just below your knee cap. When you sit at the table, your knees should also be at a 90 degree angle, with your feet flat on the floor.

Standard Standing Desk Height

The same rule applies for determining the ideal standing desk height; your arms should rest at a perfect 90 degree angle on the table when standing beside it.

Custom Table and Chair Heights

If you’re having trouble matching table and chair heights from standard furniture collections, consider custom furniture as a solution. Custom wooden furniture, for example, can be easily adapted to fit with modern chair designs, or vice versa.

 

© Parotas.com

PAROTAS is a team of carpenters, designers and architects who focus on producing sustainable wooden furniture. We use certified parota wood sustainably sourced from Mexico. Contact PAROTAS to ask about custom wooden furniture or design project.

Read more:

How to Calculate the Best Dining Table Size for Your Room

What Is the Most Sustainable Material – for Building, Furniture and Design Projects?

Unique Wood Table Ideas for Modern Designs

There are many ways to fit wood table ideas into modern and contemporary designs. Wooden tables are timeless pieces making them one of the most sustainable furniture choices, especially simple and minimalist table designs that stay in style for generations.

To narrow down your wood table ideas, consider how to create visual balance in your room. You will need to account for the room size, seating capacity you want, seating space per person, and other variables, such as other furniture in the room or mat size. We explain below how to calculate the space needed for visual design, to help you choose the best wooden table for your space.

Quality is also an important factor: solid wood tables last much longer than low-quality wood composites, and are more environmental as composites usually contain harmful products, like glue and synthetic materials. Some question whether the extra cost of solid wood is worth it, especially with today’s market flooded with cheaper, low-end alternatives, such as veneer, metal or plastic furniture. Solid wood furniture, however, is the only material that ensures longevity, due to easy maintenance. Signs of wear and tear or damage to a wooden table can be easily sanded out, and maintenance is as simple as reapplications of oil. It is also the most sustainable furniture choice when compared to plastic or metal furniture.

Below are some tips for narrowing down your wood table ideas, plus images showing wooden table ideas incorporating modern design. You can also read how to calculate the right dining table size for your room, standard table and chair heights, or counter and bar stool heights for a modern look.

Wood Table Ideas & Images

Wood table idea

Wooden tables can be made with natural wood slabs or panels of solid wood (see image below), and modernized with a range of sleek wooden bases or metal structures.

When calculating your ideal wood table size, you should allow a minimum size of 32–36 inches (80–90cm) between your table and the wall or any obstructions. This is also a comfortable size needed for someone to push back their chair. If you have furniture along the wall, start your measurements from the edge of the furniture instead. Other obstructions to consider are door frames, fireplaces and windows.

The ideal distance for an elegant look, however, is estimated at around 42 to 48 inches (107–122cm) from the wall or furniture. It is advised not to exceed a maximum of 70 inches (180cm) between the wall – instead choose a larger table to fill the space for better visual balance.

In terms of seating space per person, the minimum space required is around 24 inches (60cm), although up to 30 inches (80cm) per person allows more elbow room. If you choose a rectangular table, you also need to add a minimum of 12 inches (30cm) up to 24–30 inches (60–80cm) at either end, to allow enough leg room for two extra spaces.

You will need a minimum space of at least 24 inches (60cm) behind a chair when it is pushed in, which is the minimum amount needed for someone to pass.

Your total table size should also account extra space for table leg width. If you have a smaller room, opt for wooden table ideas that have thin legs or a central pedestal base.

Wood Furniture Ideas

Solid Wood Table Top Ideas

Natural cuts made from solid wood create truly one-of-a-kind wooden table ideas, relying on the unique patterns and live edge borders that only Mother Nature can provide. Solid wood tables are sometimes associated with rustic-style furniture, however, PAROTAS uses a variety of design bases to modernize wooden table top slabs.

When calculating the ideal height for your base structure, allow room for at least the standard chair height, typically around 18 inches (45cm) – from floor to chair seat – plus lap room. A comfortable fit between the chair seat a wooden table top is calculated at around 12 inches (30cm).

If you’re choosing between a round or rectangular natural wood table, you should consider the room size and the desired seating amount.

Rectangular table tops work better in long narrow rooms to create visual space. If you need to save space, you can add a wooden bench on at least one side, or both, which can be pushed under the table to allow more walking room.

Circular tables are ideal for small spaces for allowing better flow around the table, plus more people can fit without corners, especially if the table has a pedestal base.

Some people prefer oval or rectangular tables for seating large groups, as wide circular tables can make it difficult to reach food in the middle – although a built-in lazy susan can resolve this.

In a square room, a round or square table creates the best visual balance, as well as allowing a more intimate dining atmosphere as everyone is the same distance apart and facing each other. Similar to circular tables, however, large square tables can make it difficult to reach for food.

Solid Wood Coffee Table Ideas

Wood Table Top Ideas

Modern Wood Dining Table Ideas

If you’re specifically looking at dining table ideas, you should first calculate the amount of people you want to seat and the kind of plate setting.

The minimum depth to fit a dining plate and cutlery is around 15 inches (38cm; without glass space), or 18 inches (45cm) for a full cutlery and plate setting with glasses. You should ideally add an additional 10–12 inches (25–30cm) to fit serving dishes, although 6 inches (15cm) is the minimum and sufficient if you move glasses. This puts the ideal table width at around 41 inches (105cm), with 47 inches (120cm) being a more comfortable width.

A walkway of 36 to 42 inches (91–107 centimeters) around the entire table is the most comfortable space needed when chairs are occupied and people want to pass. However, if your table will be in an open plan room with circulation routes, then leaving from 48 to 60 inches (122–152cm) beyond the edge of a table is suitable for this type of layout.

If space is an issue, using chairs without arms or swivel seats will be more comfortable for guests. Another tip to make a small area seem more spacious is to use transparent, acrylic chairs.

Round tables are also one of the best choices for small space. With no sharp corners to bump into, round tables can fit into tight spaces and typically squeeze in more people. Round tables also create the most intimate atmosphere, as everyone can interact without having to lean over anybody. But for entertaining big crowds, large round tables are not as ideal as sound doesn’t travel as well as across a huge diameter, in which case rectangle tables can be ideal.

Wood Dining Table Ideas

Wood Coffee Table Ideas

The same basic spacing principles for dining tables applies to wooden coffee tables, making sure you leave enough space for people to pass and that there is enough space between your coffee table and the closest obstruction, such as a sofa.

The easiest design rule is to keep the proportions similar between your table and the room. Long, narrow rooms work best with rectangular tables while round and square tables fit best with a square rooms.

If you have a very large room, try to also allow a more generous clearance space, even up to 48–54 inches (122–137cm).

Wood Coffee Table Ideas

Glass Wood Coffee Table Ideas

Wooden Table Leg Ideas

Solid wood tables generally require sufficient support to withhold the weight, although minimalist base designs are still possible. Choosing a lighter wood – for example, parota is almost half the dried weight of oak – can provide more flexibility in designing table legs.

You also need to account for the ‘apron’ – the panel hanging underneath the table top. If you have a low apron, guests might not be able to cross their legs, or you would need to choose lower chairs. Aprons, however, can be beautifully incorporated into your table design idea. At PARTOAS, we custom design table aprons so they add to overall modern design idea.

The position and size of your metal or wooden table legs also influences the space you need. Larger or obstructive table legs naturally limit the seating space. If space is an issue, pedestal bases in the center are an idea choice for offering the most legroom, and you might be able to squeeze in an extra seat.

Wooden furniture ideas

Wood Table Leg Ideas

Custom Wooden Table Ideas

Every space is different. Custom wood furniture is the ideal solution for achieving perfect visual balance in a room, allowing you to match natural wood cuts to fit unique spaces in your design. For custom home furniture and contract projects, PAROTAS’ team of carpenters, architects and designers bring together their expertise to turn custom wooden ideas into reality, offering advice on the best solutions for your space and viability of your design. If you have a wooden table idea or design project, contact us for a quote.

 

© Parotas.com

PAROTAS brings together carpenters, designers and architects to find sustainable ways to produce custom wooden furniture. Our carpenters employ specialied techniques to reduce wood waste during production. All wood is certified. Contact PAROTAS to ask about your custom wooden furniture or design project.

Read more:

How to Calculate the Best Dining Table Size for Your Room

Standard Counter & Bar Stool Height for a Modern Look

A Guide to Standard Table and Chair Heights