Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Portable Table

A light, solid, portable table is the perfect platform for all sorts of occasions.

Kids sitting at a portable table
Portable tables are the perfect solution for the impromptu kid play date, card game, or extra seating at a family feast.Lifetime

A good portable table is a hard tool to beat. It’s useful for so many purposes, people who get one for the first time often wonder why they waited so long. Obviously, however, you won’t want to use the same table for running a portable table saw as you do for your monthly Bunco night. A portable table needs to be quite sturdy, while a little flimsiness won’t hurt the other at all. The fact is, portable tables are available in a variety of materials and sizes, ranging from excellent quality to poor. A few things to consider when making a purchase include its construction, what you expect to use the table for, and how you expect to transport or store the table when not in use.

Materials

Lifetime 80160 Commercial Height Adjustable Folding Utility Table
This compact table is made of high-density Polyethylene with a rust-resistant steel frame.Lifetime

Folding tables are made from a variety of materials, and the attributes of those materials will make a difference on which type is best for you. Plywood folding tables are very heavy and hard to transport, but they’re also big, sturdy, and often used when feeding large crowds. Laminate tables use laminate sheets adhered to plywood or some other wood surface. They’re sturdy but typically quite expensive. Aluminum tables are some of the lightest and strongest tables available, but also tend to be the most expensive. Plastic tables are typically the least expensive and are easy to set up, take down and transport. While many aren’t as strong as tables made of other materials, some are quite sturdy and represent a good compromise of quality and price.

Usage

Cosco Deluxe 6 Foot x 30 inch Fold-in-Half Blow Molded Folding Table
This easily foldable table has more than 1,000 square inches of space to spread things out.Cosco

How you plan to use the table is a major factor to consider when choosing one. If you’ll be moving it around by yourself often, a smaller, lighter table is the way to go. The same goes if you only need an occasional small work surface. If you have help and intend to place heavy objects on your table, you’ll want one built sturdier, regardless of the material chosen. Factors to consider here include how the legs fold and unfold, how they are attached to the table, what kind of mechanism is used to lock the legs in place, and how sturdy the leg material is. If it’s starting to sound like the legs are very important components, that’s because they are, since even a good tabletop with a poor base won’t serve your purposes well.

Storage and Transport

Lifetime 4428 Height Adjustable Craft Camping and Utility Folding Table
This portable table is adjustable for heights of 24-, 29-, and 36-inches high.Lifetime

A good portable table can be as simple as just a top with some sturdy legs securely attached to the bottom, or it can have a number of other features that make it better fit your needs. Tables that are adjustable for height are very convenient since you can use them sitting or standing. They are also ideal for families with members of different heights. Being able to put your table at the perfect height for the job at hand can make your work more efficient and safer. While some portable table legs fold up for storage, others combine a folding tabletop with folding legs. These are very convenient if you have limited storage space, but they’re generally not as sturdy as solid-top tables. On some portable tables made specifically for camping, the top and legs both fold into a small bundle, making the table compact enough to stash in a bag for easy transport.