Stainless steel work tables do a lot of heavy lifting in the kitchen. They’re essential for all manner of food preparation, a critical investment for any culinary business. While they may all look similar, there are a few key distinctions when it comes to materials, size, and design of commercial work tables.
Without knowing the ins and outs of Kitchen work tables, it’s easy to make the wrong decision. Choosing poorly-suited work tables can waste huge amounts of time and money, especially when you consider the intensity of the commercial kitchen.
If you’re deliberating on the best kitchen steel work tables, we’ve curated some essential information to make things easier:
Commercial Work Table Materials
Depending on the desired function of your work table, you may want to opt for certain materials. The most common materials used are stainless steel and wood, each carrying its own advantages.
1. Commercial Kitchen Steel Work Tables
Stainless steel is extremely durable, corrosion-resistant, and easy to clean, though not all steel work tables are built to the same standards. If stainless steel is your preference, you will need to consider the grade and gauge of the material.
· Grade: You will most commonly find 304 and 430-grade stainless steel kitchen equipment. 304-grade steel has 18% chromium and 8-10% nickel, whilst 304-grade has between 16 and 18% chromium and no nickel. As the amount of these supplementary elements determines the corrosion resistance of the steel, 304-grade is considered more resilient to corrosion, including rust. Even so, both grades are incredibly sturdy and easily cleaned.
· Gauge: You will typically see 14, 16, and 18-gauge stainless steel kitchen products. The gauge is a measure of thickness, where smaller numbers equate to thicker steel. The difference is a matter of durability. 18-gauge steel is found on more affordable work tables suited for general light-duty work. 16-gauge is of higher quality, making it a good choice for commercial kitchens. If you’re looking for exceptional durability, 14-gauge stainless steel will provide you with the best performance.
What to Remember: 304-grade 14-gauge work tables are top-tier for commercial kitchens, offering superior reliability and longevity.
2. Wood-top Work Tables
It’s also possible to choose commercial work tables with wooden tops, most often designed for either pounding out dough (baker’s block) or carving up meat (butcher’s block). With that said, all kinds of commercial kitchens can benefit from a wood-top work table.
Firstly, wood-top tables have a much warmer ambient temperature, so it’s much better for handling dough or any other sensitive ingredients. Secondly, you can be very unforgiving with your table. Wood will absorb the force of a meat cleaver or tenderizer, and you can use the entire table as a chopping board.
As for long-term use, wood tops can be sanded down and touched up. It’s also straightforward to replace the wood entirely if it ever gets beyond repair. Wood-top work tables can make certain jobs in the kitchen far more convenient, though stainless steel is notably easier to clean.
What to Remember: wood-top commercial work tables are great for select jobs (baking, butchery) but you may find it simpler to stick with stainless steel.
Kitchen Steel Work Table Sizing
Every kitchen has to make room for food prep areas, equipment stations, and large appliances, but there’s no golden rule on the perfect size for commercial kitchen work tables. Most commercial kitchens fall somewhere between 500 and 1,500 square feet, so you’ll need to measure carefully to calculate your available space.
You’ll also need to calculate how much countertop square footage you’ll need, which you might base on your specific kitchen workflow, in essence how your kitchen crew works, the kinds of work they’re regularly undertaking, and how busy things get.
Stainless steel kitchen work tables typically follow the standard height of 35” (91.44 cm), but length and width vary depending on your requirements. If you’ve got large equipment that can’t be moved, you’ll have to measure carefully in order to find suitably sized table units.
It’s also important that work tables don’t stick out, lest an unaware sous chef bumps into them. Measure the width of your largest units so determine how big you can go with work tables while still ensuring walkways are kept clear. Make as many measurements as needed and browse the AmGood Supply product range to figure out the best dimensions for your work tables.
Kitchen Steel Work Table Designs
With only a little accessorizing, commercial kitchen steel work tables can be made far more versatile. The relevance of the following add-ons to your kitchen will depend on the scale of your operation.
Most of the time, additional features found on work tables make the job safer, faster, or both, but they do carry a larger price tag. It doesn’t always make sense to go for the most kitted-out work tables money can buy, though many kitchens consider these design features to be critical.
Commercial kitchen steel work tables either come as open-base or under-shelved. The best configuration for you depends on the size and layout of your kitchen, as well as the specific equipment present. A stainless steel work table with an undershelf will give you a greater amount of storage space, keeping ingredients and equipment away from the floor while maximizing your square footage.
On the other hand, an open-base work table gives you a clean, simple surface with greater adaptability. A lack of under-shelving allows you to customize your kitchen around your existing equipment and potentially utilize space more efficiently. Bear in mind that if you go for open-base tables, you can always invest in table-mounted overshelves later to increase vertical storage.
What to Remember: Undershelves are a necessity if you’re storing ingredients and kitchen materials, whilst open-base work tables allow you to make room for larger equipment or trash bins.
2. Drawers or Cabinets
Many commercial kitchens invest in work tables with drawers or cabinets to maintain a higher standard of cleanliness. Essential equipment like mixing bowls, trays, and containers will be safer from outside pollutants, including dust, when stored away.
You can opt for an under-shelved work table with partial drawers or cabinets, but it’s also possible to find fully-enclosed units for the best protection against contamination. Enclosed kitchen work tables can have slide or swing doors, but in any case, they help to keep tools and equipment free from falling dirt and grime.
What to Remember: Enclosed work tables with drawers and/or cabinets keep things clean, but it may be less convenient to get to the stored equipment.
When shopping for the perfect kitchen work tables, think about whether you’ll need a backsplash. This raised edge stops ingredients and utensils from rolling away, while also keeping your floors and walls clean. This can help to prevent injuries, broken equipment, and wasted ingredients, ultimately increasing both safety and work rate in your kitchen.
What to Remember: A backsplash can keep the kitchen environment more hygienic and improve productivity.
Another big decision surrounding kitchen work tables is whether or not you’d like them to be mobile. Installing casters onto a table can dramatically increase functionality, but it also allows you to create a more modular food production space. With the freedom to move work tables around instantly, you can configure countertop pieces in the most efficient way possible for a specific job or event.
Transporting bulk ingredients or products is made far simpler, too. Kitchen table casters are extremely durable and fully locking so you needn’t worry about the sturdiness of your work surface. Nevertheless, casters can be a liability in other kinds of kitchens, so you may not want to invest in rolling tables unless you know you definitely need them.
What to Remember: Casters can transform a table into a multifunctional workstation, helping to create a more flexible production space, though some kitchens may not benefit from them.
5. Rounded Edge
Edges and corners on kitchen work tables can either be straight or rounded. Some kitchens have no problem with squared edges, though such tables can become dangerous in tighter or busier spaces. When the risk of impact injuries is greater, you should think about choosing round-edge units.
What to Remember: If there’s lots of foot traffic in your kitchen, rounded edges on work tables can reduce the risk of injuries.
Kitchen Work Table FAQ
For commercial kitchens, 304-grade 14-gauge kitchen steel work tables are top-tier and offer unmatched durability and longevity. A higher quality of materials will prove a better long-term investment, particularly if you’re performing heavy-duty kitchen tasks.
If you already have stainless steel units but don’t know the grade, you can perform a quick test with only a magnet. 430-grade stainless will attract the magnet, while 304-grade stainless steel won’t. The gauge (thickness) of the material may also indicate the grade, where thicker steel is more likely to be of higher quality.
The lifespan of your kitchen work tables is mostly dependent on the quality of steel you choose and how well you care for it. When properly maintained, a kitchen steel work table will easily last years. Higher quality examples can outlive more affordable options, but only if the material is treated well. Even so, stainless steel kitchen tables prove a great long-term investment thanks to their excellent durability.
The cost of a new unit depends on the material, size, design, and add-ons. AmGood Supply offers a wide range of work tables, so you’re sure to find what you need at an affordable price. Their work tables with undershelves begin at $189.95, whilst open base commercial kitchen tables start at $147.95. Accessories to turn your table into a mobile prep station are as low as $34.95. Prices vary between suppliers.
Kitchen work tables are neither reactive nor porous, thus they’re incredibly easy to clean. Use a microfiber cloth with non-abrasive detergent for general cleaning. If you’ve spilled oil, use baking soda to remove the stain. Go with the direction of the grain to further improve the longevity of the shine. Avoid the use of steel wool or rough materials otherwise as these will scratch the surface and eventually compromise the corrosion resistance of your steel.