One of the most common questions I receive about church furnishings relate to lightweight folding tables. Almost without exception, churches have past experiences with heavier, particleboard-core folding tables that have been a staple for decades. In their storage rooms are tables of this genre, often with broken corners and sharp undersides. They have been lugged around so many times that just looking at them brings up less than favorable memories. So it’s no surprise that lightweight folding tables have taken the church market by storm and become very popular. There are though several choices of lightweight folding tables that should be considered before purchasing. Let’s take a look at these:
- Blow Molded Tables: These plastic resin based tables have become very popular as they are the least expensive lightweight folding table. Essentially these tables consist of a table-top that is created via plastic being blown into a mold (Blow Molded) and then a steel frame being attached to the top. But there are several quality levels with these tables.
- Non-Commercial Rated Imported Tables: These are the tables you will often find at various warehouse clubs around the country. They are very inexpensive, but their weight ratings are low and their quality suspect. Their warranties can sound great, but are often meaningless. And if you need a good number of tables, chances are there will not be enough in stock at the store and you will have to order them. I always advise churches looking at this level of table to consider the following option.
- Commercial Rated Imported Tables: These tables are similar in look and style to those above, but they possess a sturdier construction. Often the steel will be of a higher gauge, there will be more cross-members under the table and more connection points to the top. Their load rating will be higher and they will carry a BIFMA certification and valid warranty. And you can actually get this table delivered to your church for the same money as the above option if you shop well by working with someone like Church Furniture Partner. Manufacturers of this type of table include National Public Seating and Correll.
- Commercial Rated Domestically Produced Tables: This is a fairly unique product from Correll. These tables are made in the States and are very study. In addition, these tables have two features that especially appeal to churches. First, they are available in two solid colors (mocha brown tops with brown legs and gray tops with black legs). These are very attractive compared to the typical speckled off-white/grey look of the above models. Secondly, these tables have a profiled edge that is very attractive compared to the two inch flat edge found on the above models. This allows for table skirting when desired, and just looks far more attractive when uncovered than those above. This table does cost more then the imported models, but less than the ABS Tables we will look at next.
- ABS Plastic: ABS stands for “Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene,” a composite plastic that is both lightweight and strong enough that football helmets are often constructed from it. ABS tables possess a degree of interior framing since they have an inner core to accommodate this. As a result, ABS tables have an inherent strength not found in blow molded tables. Manufacturers of this type of table include Midwest Folding Products. I have found that Midwest consistently provides the same quality level of ABS as other manufacturers, but for less dollars. These tables are more expensive than blow molded tables but cost less than the aluminum tables we will look at next. And again, I would recommend Church Furniture Partner for the lowest prices and best service on ABS tables.
- Aluminum Tables: The “Cadillac” of lightweight tables for the church market are aluminum tables from Southern Aluminum. These tables are strong enough to support 4,000 pounds of weight (about four times that of commercial blow molded tables) and yet weigh less than either blow molded or ABS tables. They come with an amazing lifetime warranty (a real one with no loopholes)! I have seen these tables used in several churches and the custodial staffs rave about them because of how well they hold up and how easy they are to handle. These are the most costly lightweight tables for churches, but once they are purchased and paid for, there will be no regrets on the part of the church. These tables are also available at the lowest prices through Church Furniture Partner.
I always recommend that churches go with the highest quality of tables their budget can afford. The joy of saving a few dollars at purchase time, will quickly be forgotten as the quality of the tables are demonstrated over time.