One of the most important pieces of furniture in any office is the conference table. As the meeting place of high-ranking executives, investors, and board members, it’s the site of many of a business’s most crucial events. And as an iconic fixture of the modern-day office, it can make a huge impression on people outside and inside the company.

Fortunately, choosing the perfect conference table for your office could be one of the easier business decisions on your to-do list. With the appropriate insight, proper planning, and one or two insider tips, finding a conference table that everyone in the office can love is almost as easy as figuring out how to use one.

To that end, we’ve put together this helpful buying guide. Keep reading for everything you need to know about purchasing a conference table that’s the right choice for your office. 

What Should I Consider When Buying a Conference Table?

There are a handful of factors that you should consider before you start shopping for a conference table. Conference tables are large, expensive, and often the showpiece of the boardroom. That means that choosing a table that is well-designed and the right shape and size for your needs is essential.

Doing so requires a little space planning. Before you start looking at models or consulting with salespeople, here are the top factors you should consider:1

#1 Room Size 

How large is the conference room setup area where the table will be located? Obviously, this is one of the most important factors to bear in mind when shopping for a new conference table. The size of the room will determine the scale, style, and shape of the conference table.1

When determining the room size, be sure to measure the actual size of the room as well as the true amount of space available for the table. Remember to leave enough clearance around all edges for people to move about. You should also take into account whether the room will house any other furniture or equipment, such as video projectors, AV equipment, or extra chairs.

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#2 Room Function

It’s also important to determine the precise function of the room. What are your plans for using the space? The conference table you buy will depend upon whether you plan to use the conference room as:

  • A formal meeting space
  • A space for meetings and conferences of all kinds
  • A versatile and flexible multipurpose space 

For example, if you’re planning a formal meeting space for your most esteemed executives and business associates, you needn’t be as concerned with flexibility or mobility. However, if you plan on using your conference room for large and small meetings, break-out sessions, or other collaborative exercises, adaptability is more important. 

#3 Number of Seats 

Before you buy a conference table, you should have an idea of how many people you need the table to accommodate on average. 

For example, perhaps your monthly board meetings need to accommodate 20 people—or your weekly team gatherings account for 15. Take stock of the kinds of meetings you’ll have, and how many people will likely be involved. If there’s a wide range between these numbers, you may want to consider seeking a more flexible arrangement of conference room furniture.

As you’ll discover below, different conference style shapes may seat more or fewer people, so knowing your capacity requirements goes a long way toward ensuring you choose the right table.

#4 Conference Table Shape 

Conference tables are not a one-size-fits-all situation. They come in a variety of shapes that are designed to suit different types of meetings as well as various functional needs, workplace cultures, and company aesthetics. Before you buy, it’s helpful to familiarize yourself with the various conference table shapes and the benefits that each has to offer.

The most common conference table styles are:

  • Rectangle – Generally speaking, rectangular conference tables can accommodate more people than other shapes of a similar size, depending on how wide or narrow the table is. Aesthetically, a rectangular conference table is a classic choice that projects an air of refined, old-fashioned business.
  • Boat – This shape is a somewhat more refined option that offers subtly more interesting lines than rectangle shapes. This shape may slightly improve sightlines over rectangle-shaped tables for those sitting at the ends of the table, but they aren’t as roomy.
  • Square – If you’re planning a smaller conference room, a square conference table can be a good choice. They offer more seating on the ends than rectangular tables. However, the larger they go, the less practical they become as the space between sides is expanded.
  • Round – Like square tables, if you’re not planning on having very many people around the conference table at once, round tables can offer an intimate and collaborative meeting space. That said, they aren't always the best option if you need space for more than a dozen or so employees.
  • Contemporary designs – If you prize aesthetics just a bit more than practicality and want your conference room to make a big statement, you may also want to seek a table that meets these needs—including those that come in unusual shapes. If you do so, be sure to consider how the shape of the table may affect your meetings. Will people be able to see and speak with others at the table easily? If not, consider finding a table that can balance both practicality and design. 
  • #5 Conference Table Size

    Determining your room size and function, the number of seats you need, and the table shape you prefer are relatively easy decisions compared to the somewhat more complicated task of figuring out what conference table dimensions you need.

    Fortunately, those simpler decisions will come in handy at this point. You can use them to determine roughly the size table you need, then scale the measurements up or down from there.

    That said, it also helps to understand a few things about how conference tables are sized. The best manufacturers will offer customizable options that enable you to find a perfectly sized table. But there are a few general standards that most adhere to when constructing tables.

    Conference table size refers to the following dimensions:2

  • Height – This refers to the distance from the floor to the tabletop. The industry standard for this is about 30 inches, but a range of factors, such as table shape and base style, can affect this measurement. 
  • Width – The width of a conference table is generally far more variable than the height. It’s also much more related to the shape and, to a lesser extent, the length of the table.
  • Length – Table length can also vary considerably. Table shape and width certainly play a part, but the primary concern, along with room size, is the number of people you need the table to accommodate. To comfortably fit 15 people, you need at least 16 feet of length. On the smaller end, an eight-foot long table can seat between six and eight people. 
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    When deciding on a length, you must also remember to factor in the amount of room you need for clearance. Forty-eight inches is the recommended minimum on all sides for tables up to 16 feet in length.2 For tables up to 22 feet in length, the recommendation is 60 inches of clearance.  

    Other Common Considerations

    Picking the right conference table is about more than choosing the right size and shape. You must also consider a variety of aesthetic factors that can work with potential conference room technology trends. The materials the table is made from, any finishes that are used on it, and other considerations can all affect the table’s functionality and suitability.

    Generally, conference tables are made from of the following three materials:

  • Engineered woods – Durable and cost-effective, engineered woods are made by combining several different kinds of wood via a process that uses heat and pressure. Some of the most popular examples of engineered wood are medium-density fiberboard and particle board. 
  • Laminates – These are a type of finish that’s applied to the conference table to give it the look of another material. For example, wood laminate is meant to look like wood. Layers of wood and plastic are pressed together, sealed with resin, then pressed into sheets for application.
  • Wood veneer – This material uses very thin pieces of real wood that are applied to the exterior of the conference table to mimic the look and texture of solid wood. 
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    You should also think carefully about the chairs you’ll pair with your new conference table and whether your employees have any special accommodations you need to meet. 

    Find Your Perfect Conference Table at Juniper Office 

    Purchasing a conference table may seem like a big decision for any office. But if you make the right choice, you walk away with a functional and attractive piece of furniture that helps facilitate the most important meetings in your company. 

    At Juniper Office, we have a combined 100+ years of experience outfitting offices everywhere. The result is beautiful office furniture designed to meet the demands of any business. Whether you’re redesigning your conference room or planning an entire office from scratch, our office planning solutions are the simple, fast, and reliable way to create an office environment that maximizes the potential of our company.

    From custom office furniture like desks, conference tables, and chairs to 3D planning services that let you see your plans before you implement them, Juniper has everything you need to take your office to the next level. Start planning your project today.


    Sources: 

    1. Street Directory. Basic Guidelines for Buying a Conference Table. https://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/193972/shopping/
    2. Dimensions.com. Conference Table Dimensions & Drawings. https://www.dimensions.com/collection/conference-tables