Buying a dining room table? Put it to the “plate test” first!

After owning the same, hand-me-down dining room table for my entire adult life, I recently had the opportunity to purchase a new one. My shopping excursion took me to several big-box furniture stores, where I noticed many tables on the showroom floor had scratches on their surfaces.

Finally, my husband and I settled on a table from Havertys called American Revival. We loved the beautiful inlay designs worked into the table’s cherry finish. At the store, I questioned the salesperson about the marks in the tabletop’s finish, but he assured me these were the result of decorative items being placed on the showroom table and moved around. He also noted the company’s policy to take any item back, for any reason, within three days of purchase.

After a couple weeks of waiting, the American Revival dining table arrived at our home. The first night we used it, we discovered that just setting our Fiesta plates down on the table caused marks to appear in the finish. We weren’t sliding or dragging the plates around, just setting them down. Plus, these plates have a smooth finish on the bottom.

The next night, despite the use of heavy potholders under hot pots and pans, heat-related marks also appeared in the finish. I quickly realized this was not the table for us. While I could have hidden the marks with a tablecloth, I found this idea unsatisfactory. I don’t see any point in buying a table with a beautiful finish if you have to hide it beneath tablecloths and placemats to prevent damage to the finish.

Havertys honored their “we’ll-take-it-back” pledge and picked up the table, issuing me a full refund. Then, I had to resume my search for a replacement. This time, I took advantage of a great suggestion from a salesperson at another store—I took one of my Fiesta plates with me to the stores and, with permission from each salesperson, set it down on the table and moved it around to see if it would leave any marks.

Take your plate to furniture stores to test the finish of tables.

In the end, we selected a table from Bassett to replace the one from Havertys. It passed the plate test, and our hope is that the special “Indurance” finish Bassett uses on its dining table tops will hold up better than the finish used on the Haverty’s table. We’ve had our Bassett table for two weeks now, and the finish looks great so far. As a bonus, you customize any dining table you buy at Bassett, so you get to select the top, legs and color combination you prefer.

My experience leads to these table-shopping tips:

  • Take along a plate to test the durability of the table’s finish for yourself (with the store’s permission).
  • Ask about the store’s return policy for items that don’t hold up to normal wear and tear.
  • Have someone go shopping with you to identify potential flaws before you buy.
  • Consider purchasing a product protection plan that can cover damage to the table for up to five years after your purchase.


Filed under Shopping tips

7 responses to “Buying a dining room table? Put it to the “plate test” first!

  1. Janet

    Good advice, thanks for the tips.

  2. Wendy Woman

    I love these tips! I test drive a car, I try on clothes, why wouldn’t I do the same with my table?

  3. Anita

    Great advice. Never would have thought of doing that 🙂

  4. Candace

    I’m thinking on purchasing the Bassett table with the endurance finish, I was wondering, is it still holding up well?

    • Hi Candace,
      Thanks for your question. Yes, I continue to be pleased with the endurance finish on my Bassett table. We have had the table for over 2.5 years, and while it has a few very fine scratches, it still looks great overall. There is no discoloration, no burn spots, etc. I am careful to use potholders and avoid putting keys or other abrasive objects on it to try to protect it as much as possible. I hope this helps you with your decision. I would buy it again.

  5. Colleen

    I purchased a dining table with “endurance” finish 3 months ago. Use place mats under plates when eating. It’s only my husband and me and he is only home on weekends and we only eat at this table. Just noticed many very, fine scratches on the top. Called the store, per the manager who was a real charmer and pushed, pushed, pushed the multiple baked on layers of “endurance” finish when closing the sale, “we don’t guarantee it’s bullet proof” when I said I was upset to see scratches. No one can answer me as to what the endurance finish is supposed to endure because eating at it once a day with place mats has caused very fine scratches. This was a $4200 dining set. Bought my neice a $599 set at Value City 3 years ago, she has a now 6 years old son who color plays etc at it and the top still looks flawless. You don’t necessarily get what you pay for.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. My finish is now three years old. It has begun to show signs of wear and some small indentations, but overall, I am pleased with it. We do not use placemats or coasters but do use hot pads.

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