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Commercial Kitchen Work Table Guide

While outfitting your commercial kitchen, finding the right work table is essential. Stainless steel work tables have long been considered the industry standard due to their durability, versatility, and ease of cleaning. They come in various forms, each designed to cater to different kitchen needs. Whether you need a compact prep table for a small kitchen or a spacious workbench for heavy-duty food preparation, educating yourself on the various stainless steel work tables helps you make informed purchasing decisions that align with your kitchen's unique requirements.

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Click any of the tips below to skip to the work table information that most interests you:
  1. Stainless Steel Gauges
  2. Work Table Backsplash
  3. Work Table Edges
  4. Work Tabletop Materials
  5. Work Table Accessories

Stainless Steel Gauges

Gauge refers to the thickness of the stainless steel used in the work table. The lower the gauge number, the thicker and more durable the table. Consider what you'll use the table for, how much space you have, and which foods appear on your menu before choosing a work table gauge.

Restaurant Equipment

1. 18 Gauge Stainless Steel Work Tables

18 gauge stainless steel work tables are lighter and less expensive than higher gauge options, making them a cost-effective solution for businesses looking to outfit their kitchen on a budget. They are the thinnest work tables available, causing them to be less durable and more susceptible to dents and dings. These kitchen work tables are ideal for applications such as sandwich or salad preparation, sorting items, or as a general workspace.

  • Built for: Light use
  • Price point: Low
Restaurant Equipment

2. 16 Gauge Stainless Steel Work Tables

16 Gauge stainless steel work tables have a medium thickness, making them suitable for more advanced uses. These tables offer a higher level of durability than 18 gauge models and are suitable for busy commercial kitchens where sturdiness is crucial and more frequent use is expected. They are priced higher than 18 gauge work tables but are still relatively affordable, ensuring a great all-around option for establishments looking for a reliable, long-lasting work surface.

  • Built for: Moderate use
  • Price point: Medium
Restaurant Equipment

3. 14 Gauge Stainless Steel Work Tables

14 Gauge stainless steel work tables are the closest you can get to custom fabrication in terms of durability and quality. They are the thickest type of work table available, ensuring maximum strength and longevity in a commercial setting. These tables are often the top choice for butcher shops due to their ability to withstand the repeated heavy blows of a cleaver or meat tenderizer without denting. This level of durability makes them ideal for heavy-duty food preparation tasks that require a sturdy work surface.

  • Built for: Heavy use
  • Price point: High

Gauge to Inches Conversion Chart

Get precise measurements for your stainless steel work table by converting gauges to inches for accurate sizing.

Gauge (ga)
Standard Steel (inches)
Galvanized Steel (inches)
18 0.0478 0.0516
16 0.0598 0.0635
14 0.0747 0.0785

Work Table Backsplash

A backsplash is a protective barrier for the wall behind your work table, shielding it from grease, food, and other debris that can accumulate during food preparation. There are several types of backsplashes available, each offering varying levels of protection and functionality. For the best results, choose a backsplash that fits the layout of your kitchen and the equipment you use.

  • 1 1/2" backsplash: 1 1/2" backsplashes are a cost-effective option that covers a smaller area. They provide basic protection while remaining economical for those on a budget.
  • 5" backsplash: 5" backsplashes are slightly taller and cover a larger area. Although they come at a higher cost, they provide increased protection for the wall behind your work table.
  • 10" backsplash: 10" backsplashes are ideal for maximum wall protection. While they are the most expensive option, they cover the largest area and offer superior defense against grease and debris.

Work Table Edges

The type of edge featured on your work table can significantly impact its versatility and functionality. Different edges affect the layout of your kitchen and how you approach cleaning. Think about the flow of your kitchen, the tasks performed on the table, and the level of sanitation required when deciding on what edge you'll need.

  • Square edge: Square edge work tables, also known as flat edge work tables, feature a straight, clean edge that offers a sleek and uniform look. The simplicity of the square edge design makes it easy to place several work tables right next to each other, creating a seamless and efficient work area. They also provide a smooth surface for food preparation, assembly, or other tasks, allowing for easy movement and placement of equipment and supplies.
  • Rounded edge: Also known as a bullnose edge, the rounded front edge of this work table style offers a sleek and modern look. The smooth curve of the front edge minimizes crevices where dirt and grime can accumulate, making it simpler to wipe down and maintain hygiene standards in your kitchen. Despite the rounded front edge, the square sides of the work table still allow for easy side-by-side placement.
  • Countertop edge: Also known as a marine edge, these edges feature a drip-containing ridge around the perimeter of the work surface, preventing spills and liquids from dripping off the edge and keeping your work area clean and safe. Countertop edges are a practical choice for commercial kitchens, laboratories, and other workspaces where cleanliness and efficiency are essential.

Work Tabletop Materials

  • Stainless steel tops: Stainless steel tops are the standard choice for work tables. These tops are durable and easy to clean, making them ideal for completing simple food prep tasks efficiently. They are popular in commercial kitchens due to their hygienic properties and corrosion resistance. If your work table will be exposed to high humidity, it is recommended that you buy a stainless steel type.
  • Poly tops: Poly tops, made from polyurethane, are another excellent option for work tables. These tabletops are perfect for preparing vegetables and making sandwiches, as they double as a cutting board. Poly tops are found in standard kitchens, butcher shops, and bakeries due to their durability and ease of maintenance.
  • Wood tops: For baking applications, wood tops are the preferred choice. They provide a natural and aesthetic appeal while offering a functional surface for baking tasks. The wood top also doubles as a cutting board. Wood tops are laminated to ensure easy cleaning, preventing ingredients from getting trapped in the tabletop.

Work Table Accessories

Work table accessories offer the flexibility to customize your table to suit your specific requirements, making your workflow smoother and more organized. Some accessories come built into the work table at purchase, while others are purchased and installed later. By strategically selecting and incorporating the right work table accessories, you can maximize the functionality of your workspace and create a customized solution that meets the demands of your commercial kitchen environment.

  • Table-mounted shelves: Available in single-deck, double-deck, adjustable height, and fully welded configurations, table-mounted shelves create a more versatile work table.
  • Casters: Adding casters to your table makes it easier to move for cleaning. If you'd like to add casters to your table, you'll be raising the counter height unless you shorten the work table legs.
  • Welded-in hand sink: Some work tables include a stainless steel hand sink welded into the tabletop, adding convenience to your workstation and providing an extra sink for food prep tasks.
  • Drawers: Adding drawers under a work table can help you keep frequently used tools like knives, labels, gloves, and cutting boards close at hand.
  • Undershelves: Undershelves are a great place to store extra equipment, consumables, and smallwares.
  • Cutting boards: Built-in cutting boards provide a designated space for cutting and chopping ingredients if your table doesn't double as a cutting board.
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