Maintain Your Hardwood Restaurant Table Tops!

wood restaurant tablesWith a little regular maintenance, all your wooden restaurant table tops can last for the life of your restaurant.  Just think of all the hardwood furniture- from bookcases to roll top desks to hardwood floors, which have been around for several decades.  When you take this into account, it is easy to imagine that the hardwood table tops in your restaurant will last just as long.

When wood is cut from a log into boards, those boards are about 50% water.  From there, the wood is dried to less than 10% water content.  This lower percentage gives commercial wood table tops the ability to shrink and expand with changes in relative humidity.  If the tables are in a very dry area, say, near a fireplace, then, just like your skin, the table top boards may shrink or crack.  The opposite happens when the air is too moist, such as a hardwood commercial table on a patio in the spring- the table top may swell and buckle.  Luckily, in an average restaurant, the moisture in the air is relative to the normal restaurant temperature, so your commercial hardwood furniture should not expand or crack very often.

The areas in the restaurant that you need to watch closely are those where your furniture is exposed to direct sunlight, patio or basement environments, radiators, fire places, or direct heat from a vent where extremes of humidity and temperature are found. These are the areas where the table top will be most affected, but if the temperature is comfortable for most people and the humidity is kept at about 30% all your table tops should be fine.

For cleaning, only use a mild non-alkaline soap.  On a quality table top finish, like a two part polyurethane, no waxing is necessary as this type of finish may gather dust rather than repel it.  Try to choose a soap from your cleaning supplier that is easy to work with and which has easy to understand directions.

After a while, all hardwood restaurant table tops will begin to show wear. Scratches from sources like silverware, bus tubs, purses, and even a repair persons’ tools from fixing something in the restaurant.  Most of the time, any light-use scratches are acceptable as long as they do not break the surface finish.  When small scratches become deep scratches, then the top coat finish and/or stain may be gone.  This can be a simple fix, or it may become complex.  First, the simple fix: Clean the area with the soap mentioned above.  Next, take shoe polish with a color as close to the original stain as possible, and stain the bare spot with a paper towel or rag.  After 24 hours of drying, take a tooth pick, dip it in some polyurethane, and allow a drop to cover the scratch. Then let it dry again. Now, after the polyurethane dries this commercial table top is ready to use again!  The complex fix is to sand down the surface and blend the colors.  If you are not experienced in this type of touch up, then you will likely want to hire someone who is an expert.  An experienced professional can fill in these gouges with a process called “burn in” where they take a piece of plastic-like substance and a hot iron to fill the gouge.  This is not something you want to attempt without some training.

Now that the cleaning, scratches, and gouges have been taken care of, there is one more simple step to take which can make your commercial hardwood table tops look new again.  As this process will a few days, you can set aside 2 or 3 tables at a time (or you can do all of the table tops at once, if they can be spared for a few days), and refinish them with polyurethane.  It’s easier than you might think.  All you need is: a piece of 220 grit sand paper, a tack rag, a plastic bowl, a 3” foam brush, and some polyurethane.  Clean the table and let it dry, then sand the top to dull down the finish and tack off the dust.  Put some polyurethane in a small plastic dish and brush it on using as few strokes of the foam brush as possible. This will minimize any streaking.  Keep the area dust free for at least an hour and then you can put the table tops back into service about 24 hours later.  The cost will be around $50, plus the elbow grease to completely redo all of your restaurants table tops.

Cleaning or repairing your restaurant table tops in a commercial setting does not have to be expensive.  Plus, this keeps your commercial furniture looking new and saves you and your business money and resources.  For more details on keeping commercial hardwood table tops maintained at a low cost, contact an experienced online restaurant furniture dealer.