The cost of dining tables seems like it would be easy to figure out. Everything is exposed and you can easily see what kinds of joinery and hardware are used. However, they can be tricky.
What makes the price on a table? materials, wood species, type of wood used, joinery, and manufacturer/vendor.
If you’ve ever read anything from my “How Much Should I Spend” series, you know that whether I’m talking sofas or counter surfaces, the post is all about the quality and price of furniture, finishes, and accessories. I’m going to break down dining tables by budget category and show you a few options
Budget-Budget Dining Tables: Under $1500
For In the “budget” budget category you can find a lot of options, but what are you getting for this price? There are three basic categories of items you will find in the budget category: small tables, used tables, and lower quality tables.
You can find a smaller sized table that is of decent quality in this category. What does that mean? It means that for a 48″ or smaller table, you can find some solid wood selections. Some may have veneers to improve the appearance of the table without using a more expensive solid wood. These tables are less expensive than larger counterparts because they are smaller. You may also find some handmade reclaimed wood tables at this price point, but the craftsmanship probably won’t be great, giving the table a more rustic look.
For example, the Ballard Design Trestle Table below is smaller in size and is made of pine and pine veneers. Although it is called “Belgian Oak”, that moniker is in fact a description of the color. Make sure you read the fine print. This table might be great for an apartment or a couple with no children, but it won’t look good after a couple of years.
Good & Better Quality Used Tables
You might be able to find a gently used table of good quality in this category. You will likely need to go to a thrift store or a rummage sale to find tables in this category, but if you’re like me, you won’t mind! There is nothing I love more than finding a little hidden treasure at a yard sale!
Any good quality table in this budget range will likely need some repair and restoration. Unless it is very inexpensive, I would steer clear of any tables where the veneer is chipped or split because this will be impossible to repair, but solid wood tables with scratches and damaged finishes can be sanded and brought back to life.
Lower Quality Dining Tables
The only real problem with a lower quality table is that it won’t look good for very long. You will probably tire of the worn look and want to replace it quickly. Lower quality tables, the kind you would find at retailers like Ashley Home Furnishings, Ikea, and Rooms to Go, are made of inferior materials and techniques. Tables in this category are made of inferior woods that often scratch and dent easily. They may have a laminate finish or inexpensive veneers. These types of tables are also mass produced and the parts may even be made at separate factories, i.e. the top made in one place and the legs made in another. They do not typically use good joinery techniques, so the wood pieces may loosen over time.
What is the difference between veneer and laminate?While they are both thin materials that lay on top of a wood slab, MDF, or plywood, laminate is usually a plastic material that comes in many colors and patterns. While veneers are thin layers of wood that cover a coarser piece of wood or MDF. Veneers are added to enhance the piece of furniture and can be highly decorative, expensive, and even desirable. Laminates are usually used to mimic a natural material as a means to cut costs
Mid-Budget Dining Tables: $1500 – $4000
This price range is fairly broad and one could argue that a person who is shopping for a $1500-2000 tables would not also be looking at $3500-4000 tables. However, dining table pricing can go very, very high and when doing research I noticed a break-point between the various vendors in this range. Once you go over about $4000 we seem to be entering a category where very fine furnishings exist. Not that you can’t find fine furnishing between $1500 and $4000, but the finest furnishings are in the next category up.
Without further ado, here are the kinds of dining tables you will find in the mid-budget category…
These are tables made by designer “fashion” brands. Examples of these brands are Worlds Away, Arteriors, Bungalow 5, Four Hands, Noir… What I mean is these tables are probably not top quality, but are very attractive and add a lot of style to a room. You probably won’t expect these to look good beyond 5-10 years, but you probably won’t want them to either. Think of these tables as you would bell bottoms or cold-shoulder shirts, they are trends that probably won’t stand the test of time. Maybe one day they’ll come back around, but you probably won’t own them that long.
I would also put brands like Restoration Hardware, Crate and Barrel, and Pottery Barn in this category. These brands do have some classic looking pieces, but they also carry quite a bit of “of the moment” furniture. Additionally, the quality is a bit of a crapshoot. I once had a Pottery Barn table that looked good for about 5-10 years and was pretty solid. With better care it may have looked better longer. However, the wood was an inferior species and the construction quality was just ‘ok’.
Less fashionable than the “designer” category, the tables in this group tend to be higher quality, but less trendy. The difference is that these can come from a store, but if you’re working with a designer, she may have an account with the company. Brands in this category are Lexington, Hooker, Universal, and Bernhardt.
Pieces made by these companies are a better quality than the pieces in the category above, but they are still not quite the highest quality. They aren’t usually heirloom pieces, but they look like they could be.
Know a great local furniture maker? They can usually make you a bespoke dining table in this price range. This is a great category because you can get exactly what you want and it will very likely be heirloom quality. The difference is that the local craftsman has no brand recognition. They’re not paying millions a year for advertising and marketing. They don’t have hundreds or thousands of employees. Your local custom furniture maker is probably a dad (or mom) who has a workshop and might employ 2-3 people.
You may be scratching your head though and wondering why they charge so much. I just mentioned the “handmade reclaimed wood” tables in the budget category, so why are these more expensive? There are some key differences. In the budget category, you won’t find true craftsmanship. These budget category tables are extremely rough hewn pieces and often the legs are factory made and paint grade.
In this mid-priced category you will find highly gifted furniture makers. They make fine furnishings using the best wood, finishes, and construction methods available. They take their time and they never use any materials that are mass produced. Their furnishings are almost works of art and not inexpensive.
Vintage and Antique Tables in Good Condition
In this category you will find tables that have been refinished by a professional. They are ready to use and will be in good repair. My own dining table meets this criteria. I found it at a local Mid-Century focused resale shop. It was a little under $2000, but it is very good quality and after it was re-finished, it was in excellent condition. It is solid teak. Though it is not made by a famous designer, it is still a well-designed piece.
What is the difference between vintage and antique?Antiques typically thought of as being at least 100 years old. They have some inherent aesthetic and historical importance. Vintage is really a misnomer. Vintage is a term that typically means the year the grapes of a wine were harvesting. We have come to use the winemaking term in furniture and fashion to denote a piece is of a specific period, but not yet 100 years old.
This is very typical of what you will see in the price category. Well made, near mint condition, attractive, but not by anyone remarkable. Let’s face it, if you have something that is designed by someone like Sorenson or Wegner, with markings or documentation, in near mint condition, you may be looking at the upper end of this category or even more.
Which brings me to…
High-Budget Dining Tables: $4000+
This is the broadest category because it almost has no limits. For example, you can find antique tables that are hundreds of thousands of dollars. New tables in this category can have a retail price tag upwards of $30,000. Most high-end, high budget dining room projects will have tables that start in the range of $5000.
Though the price range is broad, you’re really only going to find two sub-categories: valuable antiques and high quality “to the trade” items sold by designers or very high-end furniture showrooms.
Antiques in Excellent Condition from Well-Known Makers
This category is representative of historically important fine furnishings. I have seen prices on this type of table extend well into the six figure range. That’s a really special table! As I said above, these tables will be marked or have features that make them recognizable as being from a well known furniture maker and they will be in excellent condition.
Designer & High Quality
These brands are “to the trade only” and they are of very high quality. Tables in this category are heirloom quality and will stand the test of time. They are made of the finest materials and with the finest construction methods. Pieces in this category may be fashionable or highly stylized, but there are also classics in this category.
There are great options at every price point, you just have to know what to look for! If you want to learn more about quality and the costs associated with redecorating and remodeling, download your copy of our “Good Better Best Investment Workbook.”