Kitchens need prep space. In your house you have countertops, but in a commercial kitchen that’s just not the case! That’s when we turn to the staple of any commercial kitchen: the Stainless Steel Work Table. You can get them in a number of different sizes and configurations, so that with some careful planning, your kitchen prep area will run smooth and efficiently!
Let's start with the obvious. The first thing you need to know is what size table you need. Standard widths of 24, 30 and 36 inches are pretty easy to come by. Same goes for the standard lengths, from 20 to 120 inches, in foot increments. If you need a special size, you'll have to go custom, which costs extra.
Strength and longevity are important considerations when shopping for work tables. Steel strength is measured by gauge. The lower the gauge number, the greater the strength. The type of stainless steel used in construction determines the steel’s corrosion resistance.
Economy tables, or budget tables, will be made of an 18 gauge stainless steel. These economy tables will work great for sandwich or salad prep, but are not as strong and more susceptible to dents and dings.
For general use, a 16 gauge work table is the way to go. They can hold most of the heavier countertop equipment with ease and will be more dent resistant than the 18 gauge. A 16 gauge will work for lengths up to 5 feet.
Opt for a 14 gauge table if the table is longer or is going to support several pieces of heavy equipment or used in a heavy duty operation.
Steel type indicates the level of corrosion resistance in the stainless steel used. Most commonly, you’ll see type 430 or type 304. Type 430 will work just fine in most instances. However, you might opt for a table made of type 304 if you’ll be using the table in high humidity situations. Type 304 has more nickel in the metal and will be more resistant to rust and corrosion.
The last table configuration to consider is the tabletop itself. Will you need a flat top or back splash?
If you're going to be working on all four sides of the table, you'll need a flat top.
If you are going to push it against a wall, opt for a backsplash to prevent spills between the table and the wall. Whether you need the 1 ½” backsplash or the higher 4 ½ - 5” option, is really up to you and your operation.
If you plan to line several tables up in a row, look for tables with a square edge on the side. This means they’ll have a 90 degree angle on the sides and match right up to the edge of another table. Other side options would be a rounded, bull-nose edge on all four sides. Those are not ideal for lining up several tables
Do you need a prep table undershelf? Prep tables can either come with a galvanized steel undershelf, a stainless steel undershelf, or no shelf at all (referred to as an “open base”).
Most people opt for the galvanized undershelf. It holds up well against the wear and tear of a busy restaurant, and doesn't break the bank.
Of course, you should probably spring for the stainless steel undershelf to prevent rust and corrosion if you’ll be using your table and undershelf in an area with high humidity.
If you plan to store large items beneath the table, or use an undercounter refrigeration unit under the table, an open base might be just what you need.
Most tables come standard with plastic, adjustable bullet feet. But what if you want to be able to regularly move your table around? If so, you'll want to opt for the casters. If you order the casters at the same time as the table, the manufacturer will usually send out shorter legs to maintain the height quoted on the spec sheet. If you decide to add them later, you might have to cut the legs down yourself. This can be done, but make sure you cut the top and not the bottom of the leg. This helps you avoid complications when installing the new casters. One final note about casters: make sure at least half of them lock to prevent the table from rolling away on you!
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