Different materials that make up dining tables - familyguidecentral.com

Top 5 Most Durable Materials Used to Make Dining Tables (Ranked from Best to Worst)

Have you ever wondered if a dining table could last longer than you? I know it’s a funny question, but considering just how expensive dining tables can get, you might think twice about the type of dining table you want to take home with you. The type of dining table can potentially serve you well for a lifetime, but it really depends on a few factors.

Buying a dining table for a home is a very big purchase. Even if you find a low cost one, you are investing in the setting of your home and placing it in what some people describe as the most important room in a family home.

It’s the dining room. It’s the room where families find time in their busy lives to come together during meals and enjoy one another’s company. I’ve fought long and hard for the past several months researching what material I want my dining table to be. And I think it’s incredibly important when you are deciding on a tool, such as a dining table, that has such a big impact on the family.

I want to walk you through the process of what some of the top materials are used in making dining tables. I want to help you decide which material is right for you and how it will benefit you in the long run. Now, durability is the main focus here. I think it’s important to understand what types of materials you have options for aside from wood.

From what I’ve learned, there are several different materials that are used to make a dining table. Some of which are very important in determining how long it will last throughout the ages. There are 5 popular types of mineral-based materials in particular.

  • Quartz composite tabletops
  • Ceramic-composite tabletops
  • Granite tabletops
  • Marble tabletops
  • Glass tabletops

Table: Dining table materials compared

Made fromComposite rocks, resin, polymerClay kaolin, high tempSand, high tempComposite quartz grains, felsparLimestone, high temp
Scratch resistantYesYesYesYesNo
Heat resistantYes, but resin can meltYesYes, but can crackYesYes
Crack/chip resistantYesYesSomewhatSomewhatSomewhat
Stain resistantYesYesYesSomewhatSomewhat
Extra perkConsidered to last foreverResistant to discoloration UV raysTempered glass can make it much strongerResistant to extremely high heatConsidered easy to cut and shape
Comparing all the resistant and durability traits of the 5 most popular minerals used in dining tables

How did I measure durability?

There’s no clear-cut comparison between all these different materials. There are, however, a few standards I’ve picked up during my research into buying dining tables made of these materials.

I found that there’s a standard called the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness. In essence, it’s a measurement of how difficult it is to scratch these types of materials.

I also did my due diligence by researching the internet and cross-referencing facts that are covered all over the internet. In scouring several dozens of websites and finding bits and pieces of information about the topic at hand, I was able to compile what I’ve learned.

I put this new-found knowledge together and ranked them based on a series of traits, with a particular focus on durability. No one mineral is perfect. Not even the best one checks off all the right boxes. I used this data carefully to determine what structural advantages each one has over its disadvantages and ranked them accordingly.

Dining table materials ranked

1. Quartz

I would like to give a hefty congratulations to quartz. It turns out that this material is pretty darn strong. The reason why quartz is so strong is that it’s composed of a combination of rocks, resin, and polymers. 

Quartz is the most resistant material to nearly every damage

By the way, color is infused into the mixture so you’ll often see the pattern not only on the outside of quartz but also within the material as well.

Being that it’s number one on the list, it shouldn’t be any surprise at all that quartz is the most resistant to damage on the list. It takes the prize in durability due to its resistance to heat, staining, chips, cracks, and scratches.

Whether you have rowdy kids or messy adults living in your home, it should be no problem at all for this type of table.

On the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness, it is considered a 7. The higher the number, the better. This number is out of 10 with diamond being at the very top.

Owning a quartz tabletop will surely last. But how long you may ask? Well, technically it’s considered forever.

In fact, companies that build quartz tabletops are so confident in their structural integrity, you’re likely to see benefits from warranties from 15 years to life.

2. Ceramic

That brings us to the runner-up, which is ceramic. Like quartz, ceramic is incredibly durable. In fact, the single durability advantage over quartz is its superior resistance to fading from UV sunlight, which can more or less make this the ideal material for outdoor use as well.

Ceramic is resistant to many types of damages including heat and scratches

Ceramic, which also comes in the form of porcelain, is made out of a material clay called kaolin. As a finish, it is molded and subjected to extremely high temperatures. The process produces a non-porous material, which makes it incredibly durable.

You might think this gives the ceramic the edge over quartz.

However, ceramic is just ever so slightly more vulnerable to chips and cracks than quartz. This isn’t to say that ceramic is any slouch. Scratching the surface of ceramic can often only be made using a ceramic blade or something even stronger. It’s that strong.

Like all of the quality that comes with quartz, ceramic is generally considered resistant to heat, staining, chips, cracks, and scratches.

If you live in a household with lots of kids or the dining table gets really messy during meals, you shouldn’t have to worry at all when it comes to a ceramic table.

On the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness, ceramic is rated at a 7. Yes, it’s the exact same number we find in quartz.

But because quartz is ever so slightly more resistant to chips and cracks than ceramic, I’ve placed it right underneath quartz for the number one title.

It’s likely if you choose one or the other, you probably won’t notice the difference and still very much benefit comfortably from the worry-free strength of either material.

3. Glass

Ok, contrary to popular belief, glass is particularly resistant to cracks and scratches, but only to a certain extent. A solid piece of glass is very likely and almost certain to get scratches over the life of the table.

Glass is strong, but can be damaged through cracks and scratches

Glass is made using ordinary sand heated up to extremely high temperatures. Sand only begins to melt at 3090 degrees Fahrenheit or 1700 degrees Celsius.

There is such a thing called tempered glass which you can see as an evolved type of glass that’s 4 to even 5 times resistant to breaking. The process of making tempered glass is to take the regular glass table and reheat it again to temperatures of 1148 degrees Fahrenheit. The heated glass is then rapidly cooled thus making the outer surface of the glass contract over the inner surface.

The glass is actually harder because of this tension between the outside and inside surfaces.

Is glass prone to scratches? The answer is yes, over time you would get micro-abrasions by simply using it. Tempered glass is more resistant to chipping, cracking, and (unsurprisingly) heat than regular glass. So I recommend looking for tempered glass if you’re in the market.

You might want to avoid setting things like ceramic, cast iron, and stoneware materials on top of glass since the risk of scratching glass is much higher with those types of materials. You’re also going to have to be careful with placing hot plates directly over glass since it might shatter.

Glass has a Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness number of 6.

It takes the number 3 spot making it relatively strong and durable, but it has its limitations.

Glass countertops are extremely popular and a material I would recommend if you don’t mind taking a little extra care and consideration in what you put on top of them.

4. Granite

In 4th place, we have granite.

Granite can hold up against damage but can easily display light chips and scratches

Now, I want to stress that from my hours of research and asking in online forums about these granite countertops, it seems that quite a few people ask whether or not this “crack” is repairable.

This simply leads me to believe that cracking and chips on granite countertops is entirely possible if extra care isn’t placed in using it.

However, I want to make one thing clear. Granite is a very tough material. But when we are comparing it to the ones on the list, it’s simply just a few steps behind the best. That’s not at all to say it’s unworthy of your home.

In fact, granite tabletops are incredibly popular in high-end homes and they look amazing as countertops in a kitchen.

Granite is a composite consisting of coarse grains of quartz, potassium feldspar, and sodium feldspar. In nature, granite is formed in molten lava deep within the Earth’s crust.

Granite is durable. It’s considered resistant to heat and is capable of no damage from things like plates, pots, and pans. But it is porous in nature and that means staining can occur if spilled liquids were left to sit on it. Damage can also occur if, let’s say, something heavy was to drop on top of it.

On the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness, granite sits at a 6.

By the way, if you’re curious about the repairability of granite, the answer is yes. One benefit of granite is that it is easily repairable by a professional and perhaps even you if you feel up to the challenge. Chips and cracks only need to be covered and resealed by a putty with a color design that matches the countertop.

5. Marble

Marble isn’t entirely resistant to chips and scratches at all

This all leads me to what I found most surprising. Marble is the worst durable material out of the entire mineral-based group on this list. Not only is it the lowest out of all 5 minerals. But it’s even several steps behind the second to last, granite.

Being as how expensive marble is on regular countertops and tabletops, you would think it was a little more durable. But I guess the catchy name and the aesthetics are what make it such a popular material for high-end households.

Now don’t get me wrong, tabletops and countertops don’t necessarily need to be indestructible. And marble is technically speaking, a decently durable material. By all means, understand that having a marble table doesn’t at all mean you’ve picked the wrong material.

Marble is the result of a limestone rock heated to really high temperatures causing several minerals to fuse to each other. This metamorphism happens as the result of the recrystallization of the carbonate mineral grains which ends up displaying these interlocking designs and patterns you’d typically see on marble surfaces.

Let’s get straight to the point, Moh’s Hardness Scale gives marble is 3. This means that marble is very much prone to scratches on its surface. In fact, marble can be easily carved and sculpted into ornaments and statues.

Compared to the other 4 on the list, marble is one of the most expensive hard surfaces that can be used in developing countertops and tabletops. However, when comparing durability, marble gets the worst spot. Again, this is the worst of the best spot. So it’s not as bad as it sounds.

This would mean you should probably hold off on this material until your children grow up a bit. You’ll need to make sure you don’t carelessly drop heavy objects on top. You’ll have to avoid rubbing other hard surfaces against it because chances are, it will scratch the surface.

Key takeaway

This is a bit surprising. At least for me, it was. I’ve compiled a table of the technical traits for each mineral tabletop build. I think you’re going to find this pretty helpful in that it pretty much sums up the durability factors of each of the most popular metals we use to build countertop and tabletops.

Like I said before, I’m really surprised by what I found. The absolute durability of quartz really caught me off guard. Funny enough, some of the sites I’ve visited claim that quartz is practically indestructible for a countertop.

Ceramic is supposedly the better value vs durability standpoint here. Not only is it incredibly strong, almost matching that of quartz, but it can also mimic the design and aesthetics of marble as well. It’s a really strong contender to longevity.

Glass has its cons but clearly you can see that it can hold its own. Other than the possibility of shattering and cracking, it would take quite a bit of force to damage it. If you are in the market for a glass countertop, looking for a temper treatment might be better.

I hear it all the time. Every high end home wants granite tabletops. It’s just the way granite looks that really entices the eyes. Granite is strong and very resistant to scratch to some degree. However, it’s strong point is being extremely resistant to heat. In fact, it can withstand several hundreds of degrees Fahrenheit!

The not-very-durable marble left me thinking a lot. As brittle as it is, the attraction comes from the amazing mosaic-like natural design. As much as I sound like I’m bashing marble, it’s in essence a stone, and if you take care of it properly, it could also last for a really long time.

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