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If you are purchasing a new dining table, there are a lot of options to consider. Among the type of surface you want, the length, width, and shape of the table, you also need to think about the height. Which can make you wonder just how high a dining table should be. We’ve done the research and have some answers for you.
Standard dining tables range from around 28-30 inches from the floor to the top of the table. You can also typically find tables at counter height, or around 36 inches. Bar height tables are also common, with a height of around 42 inches. The height you choose will depend largely on your preference and how you intend to use the space.
There are reasons you may go higher or lower than the standard heights. We discuss some of those, as well as some of the reasons for the standards below, so read on.
Dining Table Height
When you are selecting a new dining table, one of the last things that comes to mind is the height. Unless you specifically set out to buy a bar height or counter height table, you probably just browse the available tables until you find the one you like. Most are pretty standard in their height, coming in somewhere near thirty inches.
But if you have an existing set of chairs you are trying to match, you’re going to want a table to match. You may also go for an unconventional look, and want a table that is lower or higher than the standard height. There are reasons to choose specific heights, and you should know some of those reasons before you choose to deviate from the standards.
Standard Height Tables
Part of the reason the standard height of a dining table is 28-30 inches is that it works well for most people of varying ages and mobility. These tables have a standard chair height of around 18-23 inches from the floor to the seat, which has proven to work well for people with a range of heights. Children can easily climb into these seats, and people who have a harder time getting up and down can easily use chairs in this range.
A table in that range also works well for people with wheelchairs. In fact, the Americans with Disabilities Act specifies that as the required height for accessible tables in a business. It provides enough space for the chair to fit underneath with good knee clearance and a surface low enough to comfortably reach.
Let’s take a look at a few examples of this table height:
Whitesburg Dining Table By Ashley Furniture
This table can comfortably seat 4-6 people.
Natural Dining Table By Zinus
This table can comfortably seat 2-4 people.
Counter Height Tables
Counter height tables are around 34-36 inches high. They create a less formal feel in a space, and can visually make a room seem more spacious. A counter height table is also the proper height to use as an additional prep space in the kitchen.
Some people may choose this height because it allows for more legroom. This can also be helpful to a family with several tall members. With these tables, you need chairs around 24-27 inches tall.
Here are some great examples of this height of table:
Kavara Counter Height Dining Table By Ashley Furniture
This neat table can easily seat 6.
Solid Wood Dining Table Set By Costway
This counter height table can seat 4-6 people. It even comes with a bench and 2 saddle stools.
Bar Height Tables
Bar height tables are around 42 inches high. These usually have stools or chairs around 28-33 inches tall. While not recommended for children, they work well if you entertain. The height allows people to be about the same level whether they are sitting or standing.
Tables of this height are good for people wanting to create a bar-like look in their home or for creating a more relaxed, conversational atmosphere. Many of these tables seat 2-4 people, so they won’t always work for larger groups.
Check out the following examples of this table height:
Retro Brown Bar Table By AMOAK
This bar table and set of stools can fit into nearly any space.
Rustic Brown Bar Table By VASAGLE
This industrial bar-height table even has 3 shelves for storage.
These are just the common heights available. You may find a table that is 32 inches. If you like it and it works with your room, it’s fine to choose that height. In fact, for each of these heights, there is a variation. For example, it’s not uncommon to see a 30.5-inch dining table.
Whatever height you choose, always make sure to use the appropriate chairs. You don’t want a standard height table with a barstool, just as you don’t want to use a regular height chair with a counter height table. The usual standard is that there should be 10-13 inches clearance from the top of the chair to the top of the table. This will result in around 8-12 inches of knee space underneath, depending on the height of the side apron of the table.
There are reasons for a lot of different heights. In some cultures, it’s custom to sit cross-legged or kneel when eating. If you come from one of those cultures, or you want to adopt their way of dining, you may want a table ten inches tall or lower. If you have existing chairs that are lower than typical chairs, maybe lounge style, then you may want a table as low as 25-26 inches.
Is 31 Inches Too Tall For A Dining Table?
While the typical dining table is close to 30 inches, 31 inches may be a good height for you. For shorter people, this table may feel a bit high, but many people will have no trouble at all with a table this high. A taller person may even prefer this extra bit of room.
A reason you may choose a table this height instead of the more standard height is you want just a little more room between the top of your chair and the bottom of the tabletop. Another reason might be because your chairs sit slightly higher than the standard. The real key is going to be matching your chair height so you can sit comfortably.
How High Should Dining Chairs Be?
The height of your dining chairs needs to match up to your table height properly. To find the chair height you need, a good rule is that the seat needs to be 10-12 inches below the top of your table. This is just a guideline but it usually allows for a comfortable height for occupants when reaching the tabletop.
Here are the usual height ranges for chairs:
- Standard height dining table: 17-19 inches
- Counter height dining table: 24-26 inches
- Bar height dining table: 29-30 inches
Do Dining Chairs Have To Fit Under The Table?
As a general rule, chairs should be able to slide easily under the table. This is just a guideline, and you should always go with your preference in your home.
The only time this is usually a problem is if the legs are close together, which may not allow the chair to slide between them. Another possible problem would be if there are cross braces preventing the chair from sliding all the way in.
As far as height goes, this should never be a problem. Your chair should easily fit underneath the table if you are able to sit comfortably while dining. It is possible that a chair with exceptionally high armrests and a table with an exceptionally low apron could have a problem with the chair hitting. Usually, there needs to be around six or seven inches from the top of the armrest to the bottom of the table apron.
How Much Overhang Should A Dining Table Have?
Room for the knees is what people are usually talking about when discussing dining table overhang. It is the distance from the table edge to any obstruction, such as a table leg or pedestal, that would block the knees of someone seated. There are recommendations from the National Kitchen and Bath Association:
- Standard height table: 18 inches
- Counter height table: 15 inches
- Bar height table: 12 inches
These guidelines are a good start, but also consider the ADA guidelines of at least 19 inches of space. While this is for a business and not your home, where you won’t need to meet the guidelines, it’s still worth considering if you ever expect to have a guest with a wheelchair.
The standard height for a dining table is around 30 inches. If you have a small space and want to make it feel more open, a counter height table, which is around 36 inches, may be the way to go. Someone who entertains a lot may want a more relaxed environment, and a bar height table could help accomplish that.
A dining table can make a statement, so decide what statement you want to make and choose accordingly. This is an opportunity to dress-up or dress-down a space, and a way to show your personality and taste.
For more great guidance regarding dining sets, check out these other posts that may be of interest: