Commercial Work Table Buying Guide: How to Choose Stainless Steel Tables for Your Foodservice Establishment?

Finding the right work tables for your business is pivotal to your kitchen's efficiency. Tables come in dozens of sizes with a variety of options, including undershelves and backsplashes, and can have square, rounded, or countertop corners to accommodate virtually every need. If you know the specific properties of the kitchen work table you'd like to purchase, our work table selection tool will quickly locate all of the tables that meet your specifications. To make sure you take care of your valuable stainless steel, be sure to check out the stainless steel care guide!



The gauge of your stainless steel describes the thickness and, thus, the durability of the steel itself; the lower the gauge, the thicker the steel!


  • 18 Gauge = 0.0500 in (1.27mm)

Lighter and less expensive than 16 or 14-gauge, these are often known as ‘budget tables’ and work best as workstations with light duty. This gauge is not ideal for chopping, pounding, or heavy weighted items as it dents and bends easily. 18 Gauge stainless steel kitchen tables are often referred to as budget work tables or economy work tables because 18 gauge stainless steel is lighter and less expensive than other types. But depending on what you plan on using the worktable for, an 18 gauge model might be just fine! These kitchen work tables are great for sandwich or salad preparation, sorting items, or just for use as a general workspace! They are more susceptible to dents and dings, so keep that in mind if you're going to be tossing heavy items onto them or will be doing a lot of pounding and chopping.

Best for sandwich prep, salad prep, sorting items, and general workspace.


  • 16 Gauge  = 0.0625 in (1.59mm)

As a traditional choice cutting the middle between affordability and durability, 16 gauge is generally fit for most needs. 16 Gauge commercial work tables are an excellent solution for food service professionals seeking both quality and affordability when adding a stainless steel kitchen table to their operation. Combining a higher level of durability over an 18 gauge model with a price that won't break your budget, these tables are a great all-around option. You'll find that many of our Regency brand tables are made of 16 gauge stainless steel, offering a perfect upgrade from an 18 gauge budget design.

Best for standard duties.


  • 14 Gauge = 0.0781 inches (1.98mm)

For those who want a table that can stand up to heavy use. Often the table of choice for butchers, 14 gauge is the thicker of the options and thus is the most durable. 14 Gauge stainless steel kitchen work tables, like the Spec Line Series from Regency or Advance Tabco, are the closest you can get to custom fabrication in terms of durability and quality. 14 gauge tables are often the table of choice for butcher shops because they withstand the repeated heavy blows of a cleaver or meat tenderizer without denting

Best for meat prep, tenderizing, and institutional.



Type is another number you'll often see when looking at stainless steel, and it's usually used in conjunction with "series." In this case, they both refer to the same thing - the actual makeup of the stainless steel alloy.


While there are many different Series and Types of stainless steel available, our commercial work tables are available in both 300 (Type 304 to be specific) and 400 series (Type 430).


300 series stainless steel is more corrosion resistant than 400 series because it contains nickel, in addition to having a higher percentage of chromium. Since the 400 series stainless steel lacks nickel, it is slightly magnetic. 300 series stainless steel is not magnetic because it contains nickel. 


The different types of stainless steel are determined by the crystalline structure of the steel itself. The differences in structure can determine the steel’s durability and resistance to corrosion.


  • 430 –Cheaper and lower quality

Could stain or rust depending on the products used and environmental factors (keep it clean and dry to make it last longer). Close enough to regular steel to be magnetic. Type 430 stainless steel is a lower grade of steel that contains chromium and iron, making it less resistant to corrosion than type 304 stainless steel, yet still ideal for environments with mild corrosion susceptibility. A low-cost alternative to type 304 work tables, type 430 stainless steel prep tables are perfect for performing basic tasks such as preparing fruits and vegetables, mixing ingredients, and plating meals.


  • 304 – More expensive but higher quality (and what we recommend)

Virtually stain/rust-proof. Will clean easily. If you are in a very humid environment or very close to the seashore, then you should go with all stainless steel and preferably 304 to make the equipment last longer. Type 304 is one of the most common types of stainless steel used for commercial work tables due to its high resistance to corrosion and rust. With its low carbon content and high levels of chromium and nickel, this type of stainless steel offers superior durability that can withstand the rigors of daily use in any commercial environment. It's also easy to sanitize, making it ideal for busy kitchens.


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)











Under space Use

Stainless steel tables come with two main options for under-space usage: undershelves or open bases. Undershelves may be of a lighter gauge or different stainless type. This may be OK as the undershelf doesn’t get nearly the same amount of use, but be sure to check.


**Note! that some lower-priced tables come with galvanized legs and/or undershelves. Galvanized coated steel products WILL likely rust in the long term and we don’t recommend it. Know what you’re purchasing. Some imported brands may claim to be one gauge or type of stainless but turn out to be something else.


  • Open Base or with Undershelf?

Whether you want an open base work table or one with an undershelf depends on your specific needs. For example, open-base commercial work tables are nice if you'd like to keep a rolling ingredient bin or two close at hand since they'll roll right under the table. A work table with an undershelf provides a convenient place for small appliances or food storage boxes. Some of our worktables with undershelves also come with a backsplash. Our Regency commercial work tables are available in all of these styles.


  • Galvanized Undershelf or All Stainless Steel?

If you're looking for a work table with an undershelf, you can choose between a galvanized steel undershelf or stainless steel undershelf. Tables with galvanized undershelves usually also come with galvanized steel legs and plastic bullet feet, and they are more popular mainly because they cost a bit less than an all-stainless steel table.



  • Pros:

Can store small appliances or food bins

Items lifted off the floor


  • Cons:

Can be difficult to clean the floor underneath if the shelf is too close to the ground


Open Base

  • Pros:

Great for those with rolling ingredient bins

Easy to clean the floor if you remove all items


  • Cons:

Anything stored underneath will have direct contact with the floor

It’s important to note that tables with shelving can come with either stainless steel shelves or galvanized shelves. If you’re opting for the latter option, then the legs are usually also galvanized with plastic bullet feet, making it the more affordable (but less durable) option.



Tables can be positioned in the middle of your kitchen or against a wall. If you plan on positioning your commercial work table up against a wall, it's a good idea to choose one with a backsplash to protect the wall from drips and splashes, making cleanup easier. More economical work tables might come with a 1 1/2" high backsplash, while higher-end, heavier-duty tables are available with a 5" or even 10" high backsplash. Backsplashes are ideal for against-the-wall placement, as it protects the wall from accumulating food particles and makes cleanup easier. Backsplashes come in typically smaller sizes of 1 ½” for lighter duty tables while heavier tables can range upwards of 10” for backsplash height.

  • 1 1/2" Backsplash

  • 5" Backsplash

  • 10" Backsplash


Edges Type

  • Square/Flat

Square edges can jut out and be a nuisance, but they’re ideal when placed against other flat objects. Some commercial work tables, like our Regency models, have squared-off edges on all four sides. This makes it easy to place several work tables right next to each other.

Best for placing tables against one another.


  • Rounded/Bullnose

Rounded edges make for easier cleaning while square sides make for convenient placement against other items. Many of our Advance Tabco work tables have a rounded front and rear edge, with square side edges. The rounded front edge is easier to clean while the square sides still allow easy side-by-side placement.

Best for single tables.


  • Countertop/Marine

Utilizes a drip-containing ridge around the perimeter of the table (with rounded edges at the corners). Some of our premium Spec Line Advance Tabco tables feature a countertop (sometimes called marine) edge, which places a drip-containing ridge around the perimeter of the work surface.

Best for items to be prepared that have juice or liquid (like meats).


Other Options

In addition to the basics, you may have the option to choose from a variety of other accessories and additions:

  • Casters:

Casters for your work table will make it easy to move for cleaning. If you'd like to add casters to your table, keep in mind that you'll be raising the counter height unless you shorten the work table legs. If you decide to cut the legs down, it's a better idea to cut the legs from the top rather than the bottom. It will look nicer (and won't catch employees' pant legs), plus it will be easier to insert the casters since you won't have to de-burr the inside of the legs! The addition of wheels moves to your table and cleanup a breeze.



  • Welded-In Hand Sink:

Adds convenience to your worktable (but isn’t ideal if you truly need more workspace). Several of our work tables come with a stainless steel sink welded right into the tabletop, adding convenience to your workstation. 



  • Drawers:

Adding drawers underneath the tabletop allows the user to store ready-to-use items like utensils. Adding a drawer or two under a work table can help you keep frequently used tools like knives, labels, gloves, and cutting boards close at hand. Most tables over 8' long come with 6 legs for stability and that's something to keep in mind when you're thinking about adding drawers.


  • Undershelves:

Undershelves are a convenient and easy way to help increase the productivity of your kitchen. A great place for extra equipment, consumables, small wares, and more, an undershelf is an ideal addition to any busy kitchen.


  • Cutting Boards:

Cutting boards are simple, yet effective, kitchen accessories that help you maintain the same level of consistency and efficiency without the risk of scratching or tarnishing your worktop. Adding a cutting board to your work table can be incredibly useful and help your employees prepare food safely and quickly.

  • Table Mounted Shelving:

Available in single and double-deck configurations, as well as adjustable height and fully welded, table-mounted shelves can add a lot of versatility to your work table.


Over shelves and pot racks

Just about anything you can think of. But be sure to sign the factory design drawing to confirm that it’s exactly the way you want it.


Tables are typically shipped knocked down and require assembly. You can opt to have the table fully welded and assembled at the factory for a reasonable cost. This will not only save you the hassle of assembling the item(s) but will be much more sturdy.


Table Tops

Poly Top Work Tables: A poly-topped work table is a good choice for butcher shops, bakeries, meat counters, food processing plants, and delis since the top doubles as a cutting board!


Wood Top Work Tables: Bakers often choose woodwork table tops for their bakery. Many wood-top baker's tables feature 4" high "risers" to help keep flour and other ingredients on the table when preparing dough or other baked goods. Coved (rounded) corners enable easier cleanup.





It's just a work table, right? Sure, but there are several factors to consider when buying stainless steel tables.


How much use will the table get?

The usage will help to determine the gauge of steel to purchase. Standard options are 14, 16, and 18 gauge with 14 being the thickest and 18 being the thinnest. Of course, 14 gauge is the most expensive as well. If you're planning to dump heavy items on it consistently, 14 gauge is probably the way to go. If you'll only be doing light prep, 18 gauge might make more sense.


Will you need an undershelf?

Tables come standard with either an undershelf or rear cross braces for support. If you plan to store boxes or other materials underneath the table, you would choose an undershelf. If you plan to put other equipment or trash, rear cross braces might be best. Think about your particular application and what makes sense in that space.


How long do you want the table to last?

This is where the type of stainless steel comes into play and there are two main options. 304 stainless steel is of higher quality and contains approximately 18% chromium and 0.08% carbon. 430 stainless steel is lower quality, generally more difficult to bend, and has approximately 17% chromium and 0.12% carbon. The amount of chromium affects how corrosion-resistant the steel is, which is why 304 is more durable since it has a higher percentage. A quick and easy way to test what stainless steel you have is to use a magnet. 304 stainless is not magnetic while a magnet will stick to 430 stainless.


Do you need any modifications or upgrades?

Stainless steel tables are extremely versatile in their potential configurations. Vendors like Advance Tabco offer standard modifications including a backsplash, drop-in sink, single or double over shelves, casters, stainless steel legs, or undershelf versus galvanized drawers. All are available and all have cost implications of course but can also save significant labor costs during prep and service.


The best, and most expensive, stainless steel table you can get is 14 gauge, type 304 stainless steel since it is the thickest and most resistant to corrosion. On the flip side, 18 gauge, type 430 stainless steel, is the least expensive but most susceptible to dents and corrosion. Next time you're in the market for a new table, think about what will work best for your operation and know the possibilities are endless.

Commercial kitchen