A Guide to Modular Tables

Tables that can be set up in different ways are called many things:  modular tables, folding tables, training tables, and reconfigurable tables.  We build hundreds of these tables every year for clients who want to use their rooms in multiple ways.  Since we offer unlimited choice of sizes and shapes, we will give you the best solution for your room and functional requirements.  Here’s the most common questions about modular tables:

Modular Table Shapes

The most common shapes for modular tables are rectangles, squares, or triangular corners.  These allow tables to be set up in rectangular or open square configuration.  We have found that it’s useful to add other shapes to the mix.  We frequently make modular sets that include partial arcs of circles and polygonal tables.  These allow a table to respond to oddly shaped rooms, like this NASA facility:

NASA Space Biomedical Institute tables

 

Mixed shape tables still allow a variety of uses for the room. Here are some layouts we did for the project above:

Some options for arranging the NASA tables

Even a very simple scheme, with one rectangular size and one polygon, can provide for many setups:

We’ll work with you to figure out what combination of different shapes works best for your room and your different meeting types.

 

Modular Table Sizes

Most modular table sets include rectangular tables with a 2:1 proportion of long to short side.  The actual dimensions will vary:  30” x 60”, 33” x 66”, and 36” x 72” are very common.  We frequently use a 3:1 proportion, as it is more efficient.  Two 30” x 90” tables seat the same number of people as three 30” x 60” tables, but costs less, as there are fewer tops to make and fewer legs to install.  We always look for opportunity to do the job with fewer tables.

Square tables are also very common.  36” x 36” is the smallest size that works for most situations, as anything smaller results in the users kicking each other under the table.  We prefer to make squares in 48” x 48”, 54” x 54”, and 60” x 60” size.  These can be used individually to seat 4 to 8 people each, or added together to make a good sized boardroom table:

White Tail Modular Table, 48 x 48 with power and data

White Tail Modular Tables in boardroom configuration

 

Sometimes odd sizes are needed, and we’re happy to build whatever solution works best.

 

Modular Table Costs

Like everything we build, table costs are driven by size, quantity, and complexity of design.  Laminate tables cost less than all wood tables, and power/data units add expense as well.  It’s hard to give a simple formula that covers every option, but here are some numbers to consider:

  • The simplest tables we make start at about $850 each, when ordered in quantity, and consist of laminate tops with simple, non folding metal legs.  
  • Most of the folding and rolling tables we make will fall in the $900 to $1800 range for each table, again ordered in quantity.  
  • Our more substantial and elaborate tables will cost more than that.  Keep in mind that we’ll work with you to identify designs that fit your budget.

 

Folding & Rolling Tables

If the table needs to be changed around frequently, or removed from the room, it’s nice to have a folding mechanism and large casters.  We usually use mechanisms made in the USA by Gibraltar.  These come in a variety of styles and configurations, and all allow for very easy folding and rolling. Here are some examples:

36 x 72 tables in mahogany and ebonized cherry, folded and open

Tables joined in corner configuration.

We like to use a good sized, locking caster on each base.  This allows for very easy transit of the tables to storage.  Also, our tables can be nested together so that you can put a lot of them in a small storage closet:

Two tables nested for storage.

 

Modesty Panels

Folding Tables can be made with or without modesty panels.  It’s a good idea to include them if you want to restrict sight lines in some configurations, and/or if you want to have a way to hide wiring.  The panels can be very simple and small or larger and made to match the top of the table.  Modesty panels can be placed in the center of the table when you want to be able to seat people on all sides, or along one of the long sides if you know that you don’t need to do that.  Putting the panel along one side allows for a larger panel that provides better coverage.  We also make tables with extending modesty panels that allow for full panel coverage or seating on all sides of the table.

 

An extending panel table with one side opened.

You can see more examples of these on our Base Options page.

 

Attaching the Tables Together

It’s useful to be able to lock tables together so that they don’t drift around in use.  We have a variety of under-top connectors that do this.  We usually use a Plako connector. These are easy to operate, don’t hang way down under the top, and don’t have any loose pieces that get lost:

Plako Connector on underside of table. These are unlatched.

Your table will have connectors mounted at both the corners and in the middle of the table so that you can clip them together in all of the useful configurations.  We also use other types of connectors when required.

 

Reconfigurable tables

Many of our clients want the flexibility of modular tables but don’t like the lightweight feel of folding modulars.  We’ve developed a number of designs that can be put together in various ways, while still looking and feeling like a substantial boardroom table:

Nationwide table in racetrack setup.

The arc sections can be set up as a smaller circle.

NASA Glenn Research Center table in boardroom configuration.

This type of table can be set up in various ways, but it will take more time than a folding modular.  This is the best solution when you want flexibility without sacrificing substance.

 

Power and Data in Modular Tables

We’ve developed solutions that allow for wiring in any of our modular tables.  For folding tables, we like the ECA Daisylink unit.  This allows for daisy chaining tables together, with only a single plug to the wall.  Each Daisylink unit includes (2) AC plugs and (2) USB charging plugs.  We provide clips so that you can run the wires either out the end of the table or out the sides.  Here’s the underside of a folding table showing the ECA Daisylink:

Underside of folded table, showing wiring.

Two folded tables with Daisylinks.

It’s trickier to add full network and video wiring to modular tables.  We’ve developed full cases that can be used with Gibraltar folding legs to allow for both easy movement and storage, and heavy wire loads:

Folding table with full case and wire runs, shown in our shop.

Many of our more substantial reconfigurable designs are set up with a full set of network, power, audio, and video plugs, hidden under hatches:

Modular table with Extron Cable Cubby in center.

The base of this type of table must accommodate a lot of wiring, and also include wire ports just under the top that lead from one base to another.  Here’s a shot of one of those bases with doors removed:

Interior of base, doors removed

And here are some cases under construction, showing the internal structure and wire runs:

Two reconfigurable cases in construction. Note wire runs.

 

Scissoring Tables:

While not modular, scissoring tables allow for some flexibility in a room.  When closed, they are good for regular meetings where the users need to talk to each other.  And when open, these tables are good for video conferencing::

Scissoring table opens for video conferencing, shuts for internal meetings.

Our scissoring mechanisms use pre-mounted wheels that make the table very easy to open and close.  The arms of our tables are usually outfitted with full cases that allow for heavy wiring loads.

 

Summary:

Our designers will work with you to find the very best solution for your room and functional requirements.  Contact us and we’ll get started with a design tailored for you.