There are several different things you need to consider when it comes to choosing a cafeteria table. Each intricate detail can either make a perfect cafeteria table or a table that will need to be replaced within the next few years. The question is, how can you tell if one table is better than another?
First, start off with the table top construction. The surface of the table should have a minimum thickness of .040”, and it needs to meet NEMA standards. The edge of the table should have a urethane edge material sprayed on in three separate layers, and each layer should be completely dry and hardened. There must be a consistent thickness of .05”, being if it’s too little, the material will result in laminate edge damage, and if it’s too much, the material will not dry or harden properly, resulting in it peeling off. T-band edging is inferior and can come off.
Next, take a look at the backer sheet. There should be about a .020” thickness, and made from a rigid black polypropylene material . The material needs to be laminated to the underside of the top core to balance the top construction. Paper backing is inferior and does not allow for scrapping off of gum that inevitably finds its way under cafeteria tables. Lastly, take a look at the core. The core of the cafeteria table should have a medium density fiberboard material.
Next, you should check out the table top frame. The frame should be made of 14 gauge structural steel. To gain additional strength, the frame should be bent to a 90 degree angle. The frame should also be unitized with fully closed ends so it has additional support and strength. On each of the frame holes, plastic plugs should be used, and it should have a textured powder coat enamel to protect the metal from wear and rust.
After that, you should look at the table top hinge. The center hinge is the main support connecting the table halves, so there are several things you should check:
- 7 gauge steel
- ½” center bold
- ½” diameter gravity locking bar with chrome finish, that is operational from either side of table
- Vertical design to reduce accumulation of food
The lift assist mechanism and the pivot points are a little easier to tell. The lift assist mechanism should have steel torsion bars enclosed, and there should be no exposed springs or exposed pneumatic cylinders..
In regards to the ADA, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Tables should have an ADA option
- Proper height and clearance (check state laws)
- Easy removal of seat/bench for wheelchair
Lastly, keep in mind the following requirements when choosing a cafeteria table:
- Steel transport stabilizer latch
- Easy operation access
- Self installs
- Serial number is important as it allows for ordering replacement parts many years later
- 15 years on product
- Lifetime on the welds
Picking out which cafeteria table can be a tricky subject, but if you follow these guidelines, you will be sure to find the right one.