Skip to main content

Dining Tables: What Size Should They Be?

Lesley has been an online writer for over ten years. She has a degree in law and spends her free time writing about flowers and gardening.

My dining room has a 48-inch diameter table that sits four with ease, and six when necessary.

My dining room has a 48-inch diameter table that sits four with ease, and six when necessary.

Dining Tables for Entertaining

If you’ve made the decision that you want to entertain, you’ll most likely need a dining table. Few of us have space for a banquet, so the usual advice is to choose a table large enough to seat the family, plus two. For families with children, that usually means a table for six to eight. If there are just two of you, a table for four to six will do perfectly.

How Big a Table Do I Need for 4–6 People?

  • Round: Between 44–54 inches in diameter (that's 3’8”–4’6”).
  • Oval: 36 inches wide by 56 inches long (that's 3’ by 4’8”).
  • Rectangular: 36 by 60 (that's 3’ by 5’).
  • Square: 3’–4’ square to seat 4 people. Get one that extends for maximum versatility.

How Big a Table Do I Need to Seat 8 or More?

  • Round: 54–72” diameter (that's 4’6” to 6’).
  • Oval: 36” by 72” (that's 3’ by 6’).
  • Rectangular: 36” by 78” (that's 3’ by 6’6”).

When the family expands, you’ll need something larger if you plan to entertain your children and their families. To seat 8–10, you’ll need something that takes up a lot of space. You might like to start out with a 3’ diameter round table that expands. A table 3’ by 7’ will seat 8–10.

How Much Space Do I Need for the Chairs?

The size of the table isn’t the end of the story. You need space for chairs and to sit and move around the table comfortably.

As a general rule, you need about 36 inches (3’) of space for a chair. It won’t take up that much space when drawn up to the table, but you need to be able to push the chair back to get up.

Hence a 48-inch diameter round table actually needs a space of 10 square feet.

When You Don't Have Enough Space

So, what do you do if you don’t have room for the size of table you need? Well, that depends on the type of entertaining you do.

  • Buy a table that fits in your room, but can be expanded if necessary.
  • Look for other spaces in your home where you could put a large table on a temporary basis, and buy a folding table you can store in the garage until you need it. You may find you can push a sofa against the wall and bring out a table for a special occasion.
  • Do most of your celebrating outside on the deck or in the garden.
  • Be a little crowded now and then. I have a 48-inch table which is ideal for four, but a little cramped for six. I could buy a larger table, but it would not fit my dining room so well, so when I want to seat six people I have them sit a little closer than might be ideal. A 48-inch table has a circumference of 150 inches, which provides 24 inches for each guest.

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

My first home had three rooms, two bedrooms and a living room which was just large enough for a sofa and a 3’ diameter round table. It was ideal. When we moved into our first house we had more rooms, but not single large space and no dining room. There was nowhere for the table. How could we entertain?

If You Don't Have Enough Space, Try Buffet-Style Meals

Rather than sit down for our meals we ate buffet style. The food was set out on the kitchen counter, guests helped themselves, stood, chatted or sat in our living room.

When it was warm enough we ate at a large table beneath a pergola in our tiny garden, and after a couple of years, we added a sunroom which became our dining area.

Over many years and at many moves, I’ve learned that there is always a way to entertain, so never let lack of space discourage you from spending time with old friends and making new ones.

Questions & Answers

Question: I'm looking to buy a 54" table with chairs that measure the seat at 17,5 W and overall 25W. Would 5 chairs of this size work with a 54" round table?

Answer: Yes, I believe it would. If you work out the circumference of your table (Pi times the diameter) 3.14 * 54 is 169.56 inches. Your chairs, if 25W in total Five will measure only 125 inches, so yes!

Question: I bought a 48 inch round dining table that expands to a 60 inch. I found chairs I love but are they are each 21.5 wide. I want to buy 4 are they two wide?

Answer: I think they'll be fine. Your chairs, put together touching will make a square of 21.5 in on the side, equivalent to a circle with radius 10.75 inches. Your table at 48 inches has a radius of 24 inches and at 60, 30 inches.

Question: My dining table is 38 inches in diameter. What size table cloth will fit?

Answer: Most dining tables are 30 inches high, so if you want a floor length tablecloth, simply add twice the height to the diameter of the table. In your case this would be 38 + 30 + 30 or 98 inch diameter cloth. If you simply want a cloth to hang over the edge, add an appropriate margin to your 38. A sixty inch, round cloth would hang down 11 inches which should be fine, a 70 inch cloth would hang down 16 inches, or about half the way to the floor. Of the usual tablecloth sizes, I'd suggest going for a 90 inch cloth which will almost reach the floor on your 38 inch diameter table. Amazon has plenty from about $10 upwards.


mae on January 01, 2020:

what size rug would i need for a 54" round table with 4 To 5 chairs the

room is 12×9