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Conference Tables Buying Guide
Meeting Expectations: how to plan a conference room
When mapping out your company’s floor plan, including an entire room dedicated to the occasional meeting might seem uneconomical. On the other hand, the conference room could just as easily be used as a place to meet clients, hold training sessions for employees and conduct interviews. If you do decide that a boardroom could play a positive role in furthering the success of your business, you also realize that presentation is important. You will want your conference room to look professional yet warm; efficient yet attractive. Before deciding on what kind of conference table and other meeting room furniture you will need, here are some basic tips to help you to decide what to choose.
Before You Begin
Decide how your boardroom will be predominately used, who will use it and how many people will be using it on a regular basis. For example, if you intend to use it mainly for meetings, a long, solid conference table might be ideal. On the other hand, if you would like the option of separating into smaller discussion groups for training purposes, a modular conference table perhaps will better suit your needs.
Since the conference table will be the focal point of the room, it is important that you do not end up with a table that is too large or too small. Take measurements: the conference table should proportionately fill the center of the room.
The ambience and distinct character of your boardroom will largely depend on the kind of conference table and type of base you select.
Make a checklist of all of the equipment you want to include, such as a lectern, credenza, presentation easel, projection screen or audiovisual cart. Know the dimensions to get a better idea of just how much space you will need to plan for. Measure the room taking into account windows, doors and ceiling height.
From the checklist of equipment, you will be able to determine what power sources you will require and where the furniture should be placed in relation to sockets and phone jacks. If you will be using AV and teleconferencing equipment on a regular basis, consider buying a conference table that includes a wire management trough or a power/data access port.
No matter how much space has been allotted for the conference room, you will be able to find a table that will fit, since conference tables come in all shapes and sizes. If space is a concern, select a smaller round or square table.
What Kind of Conference Table Do I Need?
A typical conference table is approximately 60 inches wide and 24 inches deep. Most manufacturers will offer the same style of table in varying widths, finishes and colors, allowing you to customize the conference table to your individual requirements. To give you an idea of how large the room needs to be to comfortably accommodate a conference table of a particular size, the following measurements listed below are for general reference purposes only.
Size/Seating Capacity Chart
Conference Table Size Minimum Room Size Optimum Room Size Seating Capacity
60" W x 30" D 13' L x 12' W 15.5' L x 13' W 4 – 6
72" W x 48" D 14' L x 12' W 15.5' L x 13' W 4 – 6
84" W x 48" D 15' L x 12' W 16.5' L x 13' W 4 – 6
96" W x 48" D 16' L x 12' W 17.5' L x 13' W 6 – 8
120" W x 48" D 18' L x 12' W 19.5' L x 13' W 8 – 10
144" W x 48" D 20' L x 12' W 21.5' L x 13' W 10 – 12
150" W x 48" D 21' L x 12' W 22.5' L x 14' W 10 – 12
168" W x 58" D 22' L x 13' W 23.5' L x 14' W 12 – 14
180" W x 58" D 23' L x 13' W 24.5' L x 14' W 12 – 14
192" W x 58" D 24' L x 13' W 25.5' L x 14' W 14 – 16
240" W x 58" D 28' L x 13' W 29.5' L x 14' W 18 – 20
288" W x 58" D 32' L x 13' W 33.5' L x 14' W 22 – 24
What Kind of Conference Table Do I Need?
Rectangular conference tables are a functional and classic choice for the boardroom. Since the tabletop is a basic flat shape, the work surface is suitable for other applications such as meeting and training rooms. Some models can be joined together with ganging hardware to create a multi-segmented conference table that allows you to customize the table to the size of your conference room.
A boat-shaped conference table has convex sides, with slightly tapered ends, sometimes with rounded corners. Because of the slight curve of the tabletop, they look elegant and stylish. If you intend to hold videoconferences or other types of visual presentations, many manufacturers offer options such as a built-in cable management panel or power and/or communication modules.
Racetrack or oval conference tables are pleasing to the eye with their rounded edges and sleek lines. As with other styles of boardroom tables, many manufacturers will offer the same model of the racetrack conference table in a number of sizes and finishes, allowing you to find the one best suited to your meeting room.
Octagonal conference tables are available in both round and rectangular shapes. A round octagonal conference table is ideal for smaller spaces as they are more compact. To make sitting more comfortable, when selecting a round octagonal table, choose a base that will ensure ample knee room. For larger boardrooms, select a rectangular octagonal conference table for significant visual impact.
A round or circular conference table is perfect for smaller boardrooms because it uses vertical rather than floor space. Round conference tables can introduce a more relaxed, yet inclusive feel to a meeting, while still providing plenty of room for everyone.
What Type of Conference Table Base Should I Select?
As the name suggests, the slab or panel base conference table is supported by at least two, one at each end, slabs or panels. This type of base gives the conference table balance and stability. Variations on the standard slab base are the curved slab base and the split curved slab base, in which the panel will have a groove running down the center of the slab.
A trestle base conference table is one with T-shaped uprights joined by a narrow base. The upright part of the trestle can be either a solid panel or a number of slats attached to the base. Depending on the style, it can bear the weight of the table at each end or run down the length of the center of the table.
X-base conference tables come in a number of configurations, including the panel X-base and the hourglass X-base. It is also known as a cross-leg base.
A conference table with traditional legs can also be referred to as a post base style table. Posts may resemble standard table legs or thin cylinder pedestals.
Pedestal bases are available in a variety of shapes like square and drum/cylinder. They can be single, double or multiple, depending on the diameter or the length of the conference or meeting table. Pedestal bases tend to give the boardroom a more formal look and feel.
What Kind of Material Should I Choose?
Engineered woods are made by gluing multiple wood fibers together using heat and pressure. The two most common types of engineered woods are particle board and medium density fiberboard or MDF. Medium density fiberboard is stronger than particle board and is more affordable than solid wood because it is made from recycled materials. When finished with laminates or veneers, MDF can look and feel like real wood and can be just as strong and durable as solid wood furnishings.
Laminates are a type of finish. Produced by pressing layers of materials like wood and plastic together, and then sealed with a thermosetting resin, they are formed into sheets. The sheet of laminate material is then applied to the surface of aconference table, usually made from an engineered wood of some type, such as MDF. Laminates are commonly used for conference room and office furniture because they are strong, durable, easy to care for and don’t fade.
Wood veneers are produced using a heat and pressure. Slices of real wood are adhered to the piece of furniture and are paper thin, anywhere from 1/100 to ¼ inch thick. This is a popular material for furniture construction because it can be applied to any smooth, flat surface, giving furniture pieces the texture and appearance of genuine solid woods, while keeping costs down.
Considered to be the most durable material for furniture, genuien wood furnishings are constructed from wood cut from the trunks of trees like mahogany, oak or maple. Because wood furniture is not made from recycled or processed materials, it is more expensive. The terms hardwood and softwood do not actually refer to the firmness or strength of the wood. Hardwood is from a deciduous, broad-leafed tree (one that loses its leaves) and softwood is from conifers or evergreens, such as pines, hemlocks or spruces. Since each piece of furniture is unique, it may be harder to match to additional pieces, even if it is produced by the same manufacturer.
Once you have selected your table, how you position the rest of your meeting room furniture is important. In order to easily move around the conference table, allocate the approximate amount of space for the following:
- 30” for each chair when placing chairs around your conference table
- 48-56” between the table and the wall for minimum/maximum clearance
- 60” between the wall and the table for main aisle space
- 16” between the back of the chair (when pushed in) and the wall to be able to walk sideways
- 24” between the back of the chair and the wall to walk without having to turn sideways
- 56” between the table and a visual display board/easel
? 30” of free space for standing at the head of the table and presenting material on the wall
What Style of Conference Table Should I Select?
Traditional furniture is characterized by medium to dark finishes and architectural detailing such as molding. Classic accents like inset panels and shell, leaf or scroll motifs are reflections of historical periods such as the Victorian era.
Transitional merges elements of both the traditional and contemporary styles. Lines and forms tend to be simple yet sophisticated, as demonstrated by the use of straight lines contrasted with tapered legs.
Contemporary style is known for its use of sleek lines and geometric shapes. It often mixes finishes and materials together to create visual interest. While fundamentally geometric, contemporary design is often tempered by curved lines or textured detailing.
Modern conference or meeting tables are distinguished by polished surfaces and angular forms. Features of the modern style are sharp contrasting lines and asymmetrical detail. The focus of this design style is on form and function. Metal, glass and acrylic are common construction materials.
What Else Should I Keep In Mind When Planning a Conference Room?
Should visual presentations be a regular part of your meetings, before making a final floor plan and arranging the furniture accordingly, make sure that the natural light and overheard lighting in the room will not interfere with audiovisual presentations, videoconferencing, etc.
Select chairs for your conference table that include basic ergonomic features such as controls for adjusting the backrest and chair height, and has a waterfall seat edge. Comfortable seating, especially for longer meetings or presentations, will make it easier for attendees to focus on the task at hand.
If beverages and snacks are an integral part of your meetings, buy a conference table with a thick protective finish. Choose fabric office chairs with a stain-resistant coating or easy-to-care for vinyl chairs.
Reserve some aisle space for mobile pieces of equipment, like an AV cart, that you intend moving around or in and out of the room on a regular basis.
When purchasing a unit that includes glass shelves, doors or tabletops, choose one that uses tempered glass. Tempered glass is treated with heat or a chemical solution to make it stronger and safer and it is designed to break into small fragments rather large shards.