How Big Should A Tablecloth Be [By Table Size]

Tablecloths can be a nightmare to shop for, and not just because of how hard it is to find that one perfect pattern, either. It's all about the size of the tablecloth. Too big makes your table look strange. Too small will make it hard to get the coverage that you want on a table. If you're curious about what our research found on this table topic, you're going to love what we have to say.

Getting the right tablecloth size involves two measurements: the actual size of your table and the tablecloth's length that you want to hang over the table. It would be best if you got a tablecloth that is at least as large as your table, plus double the drop length that you want. 

Getting tablecloths can be a little daunting, especially when you need a little help getting the right drop. This guide will make your shopping trip a little less daunting. Please keep reading as we discuss sizing a tablecloth, coordinating a tablecloth with napkins, and when to use a table runner.

A fine banquet table setting with bouquet in outdoor restaurant, How Big Should A Tablecloth Be [By Table Size]

Should You Use A Tablecloth?

Warm and cozy domestic kitchen and dining room interior with Easter decorations

Tablecloths were a must-have at one point in history, but now, things are starting to change. Though they are still fairly popular, tablecloths tend to be less of a requirement today. No rule states that you need to have a tablecloth on your table, but they can be fairly useful.

In daily use, tablecloths can help prevent scratches, spills, and stains from harming your table. They also can act as one of the most obvious ways to decorate a dining table, even when you are not using it. It can also add a splash of color, much like how curtains are made to match walls.

Of course, there's an air of having a traditional setup that comes with having a tablecloth on your table. It's a nice thing to have. With that said, there are certain situations where you probably should get a tablecloth, if only because it's a part of what people expect in terms of decorations.

Tablecloth Worthy Events

Though we're in a liberal society when it comes to things like decor, there are certain moments where people just expect to see a tablecloth. This is true, even among circles where casual is usually king. If you have a holiday dinner (like a Thanksgiving feast), a birthday dinner, a funeral dinner, or a date night dinner, you probably should have a formal tablecloth on the table. 

Most people find that having a tablecloth for formal events is a smart move. More specifically, it's good to have a tablecloth that is versatile enough to be used throughout the year. That's why having an extra long white, washable tablecloth is such a smart move. It works with all decor and also happens to be perfect for formal dining.

Click here to buy a white tablecloth from Amazon.

Tablecloths Extend The Life Of Your Table

Tablecloths initially came out to flaunt wealth, but it quickly became a way to prevent stains and spills during dinner. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see how this could help protect a table's finish for longer periods of time. Though there haven't been any serious studies on tablecloths and table life, it's safe to say having a protective cover never hurts. 

How Do You Fit A Tablecloth To A Table?

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Now that we've established the basics of sizing up tablecloths, let's get the calculations for tablecloth lengths. There are only two sizing methods, really. One is for circular tables, the other for rectangular shaped tables. To determine how much of a drop you want, measure the distance from the edge of the table to where you'd want the bottom of the cloth to be. 

For a circular table, your table's diameter should be used to determine tablecloth size. Add twice the drop you want to have to calculate the final size.

For rectangular tablecloths, calculate your size by the following equation: (length of table + (drop times two)) x (width of table + (drop times two)).

How Long Should A Tablecloth Hang Over?

The extra length of material that a tablecloth hangs over the edge of a table is called a "drop." Most people don't realize that there is an etiquette element to determining the proper length of a drop. Here's what you need to know:

  • If you are using your tablecloth for a casual affair, a short drop is more appropriate. Six to eight inches is the norm here.
  • More formal affairs require longer tablecloth drops. For holiday meals, formal dinners, and other events, you should have a 15-inch drop from the edge of the table.

At the end of the day, it's up to you to choose your length. We do not have a formal society these days. If you have a specific length you adore, then go for it. There are other ways to suggest formality, after all.

Should Your Tablecloth Match Your Napkins?

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There's something to be said about a table that's been set to coordinate with your decor. Having a tablecloth that matches your napkins can be a good look, but oftentimes, it's better to match your tablecloth to something else in the room. For example, matching a tablecloth (but not napkins) to the curtains can help you add more cohesiveness to your room without going overboard.

So, in most cases, the answer is no. The best way to match a tablecloth and napkins together is to have both be white. If you have a colored tablecloth, it's better to leave the napkins white and match it to other items.

Do You Need A Table Runner?

One of the most common additions to a formal table setting is a table runner. A table runner is a strip of fabric that tends to be placed in the center of the table, running down the table's length in its entirety. They're pretty popular during the holidays. You might remember seeing table runners on sale in holiday stores, often clad with whimsical images on them. 

Unlike tablecloths, there's never a mandatory moment where you should have a table runner. However, it can be a nice way to have a tablecloth-like aesthetic without fully covering a table. If you feel that it'd add to your aesthetic, then go for it. Otherwise, it's perfectly fine to skip it. 

Click here to get a table runner from Amazon.

Does A Table Runner Have To Hang Over?

It's important to remember that a tablecloth is not the same thing as a table runner. It's a focal point, not the full cover. Technically, your table runner doesn't have to hang over since it's a personal preference matter.

However, most design gurus agree that a runner should have over at least six inches from the edge of the table. However, you shouldn't have a runner that's longer than your tablecloth. The purpose of a runner is to add a decorative top layer. If it exceeds the tablecloth drop, it'll look awkward.


Every home should have at least one tablecloth, if only because of what it can do for a formal dining event. Tablecloths can help improve your table's overall lifespan and help make your room look more put together. The only thing you really need to watch out for is choosing the right pattern and size.

We can't tell you what pattern is best, but we can offer advice on sizing. When you're picking out a tablecloth size, make sure that you add double the overhang amount you want to have for each table side measurement you choose. That way, you will get the even spread you want without too much of a hassle. Happy dining!

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