school tables shapes & sizes

School Tables – Different Shapes, Heights and Sizes

Share the love

Are you looking to purchase new school tables for your classroom?
The first thing that you’ve probably noticed, is that they come in many different shapes, heights and sizes.

So which type of table is right for your school?

Here are the 4 most important factors to consider:

1. Shape of your School Tables

Table Shape

Circular tables, semi-circle tables, square tables, rectangular tables and other shaped tables all have various uses. Circular tables are great for group work, whereby students can work collaboratively on projects.

Just like the knights of the round table, sitting in a circle allows students to feel equal and on the same level and encourages participation. Circular tables can be important tools, when facilitating group work. However, when learners are required to do independent work, we would often advise square tables.

Though, what if your school lacks space?

Obviously, space is often a premium in the classroom and due to class sizes, it may not always be possible to have every variety of table in the classroom.

That’s why;

Choosing the right shape table for your requirements and space, is vital.

  • Often, semi-circular tables can be a great choice. As these can be put together to form a full circle, for group work and then separated for independent work, or work in pairs.
  • Rectangular tables are also an excellent choice for students completing work in pairs and for independent work too

So, how do you know which shape is best? Our advice would be to,

where possible;

Plan your table arrangement, to your curriculum and teaching methods. A variety of tables is always good for more options but where space is an issue, chose tables that can create multiple shapes to match a variety of teaching methods.

What’s the use?!

Also consider your tables use in situ. Computer tables usually require certain features, such as cable ports. Obviously, round tables would not be suitable for exam conditions. Independent study, almost always, requires a square style table. Maybe your tables are for the canteen? Therefore, they need to fit large numbers of students around them.

2. Height and Size of your School Tables

Table Height

School table height and size is another very important factor, when choosing tables for your school. It’s necessary to consult the European and British Standards, when choosing table size and height. An optimal seating position is important for the user.

See our handy chart below:

This helps to avoid unnecessary back pain and other ailments, from prolonged seated positions. Here is a chart which demonstrates the correct table and chair height.

school tables height and size
school tables height and size

If you have a variety of height children in your classroom, which most classes these days do. Then it might be worth considering height adjustable tables. Especially, if you have a variety of ages and classes, all using the same classroom.

Height is the main factor to consider regarding the size of your tables.

However, you should also consider;

  • What table top depth and width, is suitable for the type of work the students are completing?
  • What is the desktop space they’ll need to carry out their work?
  • What width tables will fit in the classroom space you’ll have?

There are various independent bodies, whom test school furniture to the British and European standards. You can read more about the testing they carry out, here.

3. Edging of your School Tables

Table Edging

Durability and style are also important factors to any educational furniture and school tables are no different. What can impact both the style of the table and the durability of it, is the tabletop edging.

There are a variety of edging types for school tables on the market today. However, the main ones are;

  • Bull-nosed varnished mdf
  • PVC
  • PU edge.


The first, bull-nosed mdf edge is quite common. It’s the most cost effective edging but it is also the one that is most prone to damage, from knocks and bumps. To give the finished look, MDF edge tables are rounded, smoothed and then varnished.

Next is a PVC edge whereby PVC plastic is glued to the outer edge of the table top. This is often a little more expensive than a basic mdf varnished edge. Though, offers more protection to the table from bumps, knocks and scrapes. This type of PVC edge is prone to vandalism. Due to the method of glueing plastic to wood. The PVC can be easily picked off with a compass or ruler.


Finally, there are two types of PU edging. These are cast PU and spray PU. PU edge is cast onto the outer table but this can be an expensive process. This usually adds to the cost of the table. Whereas, spray PU is equally as durable but it is often a more cost-effective solution.

We would always advise a PU edge table, against any other, providing your budget permits.

There are also other types of table edging, including solid beech edging. This type of edging is durable and aesthetically pleasing. Though, it is usually classic looking tables that are found with this edging. They also come at a premium.

4. Frame Style of your School Tables

Frame Style

One thing to think about other than the table top, is the table frame. As, although the top is the main part of the table that people see and have contact with. The frame is what gives your table strength and stability.

The intended use of the tables, will affect the table frame style dramatically.

For instance;

if you want to be able to stack your tables, as you need to clear space in your classroom for practical work, then we would always advise a crush bent frame. These tables are stackable.

A fully welded frame, by design, doesn’t allow for the tables to be stacked. Furthermore, tables that need storing for longer, are the likes of exam desks and/or canteen tables. Therefore, folding tables, are your best option here. Also, as mentioned earlier. If your classroom provides for learners of different ages and sizes, then height adjustable tables might just be what you need.

Don’t forget that the shape of your table can also affect it’s frame style and use.

For example;

a complicated or puzzle shaped table will not stack well. Also, you will often find teachers desks, placed at the front of classrooms. As a result, these tables require modesty panels, appropriate for female teachers.

Strength Matters

One final consideration, is the steel gauge and diameter. It is worth noting that the larger the diameter and tensile of the steel, will ultimately, affect its durability.

Most important, is the tensile gauge of the steel.

A thick and dense steel frame, will always be the strongest but bear in mind, it will also increase the weight. However, thickness or diameter, doesn’t always give a true indication of strength. As, if the steel is a lower tensile, then the frame could still be weak.

Always check with your supplier or manufacturer, both the frame diameter and the tensile of the steel.

Another light weight option to stainless steel frames, are aluminium frames. These are a more malleable and also, offer a lighter weight solution. Though, these frames may be more of a premium.

Share the love