How to Make a Table Bigger For Extra Seating Without Folding Tables

7 Materials
$200
2 Days
Medium

Do you need to add a folding table or two in order accommodate more dinner guests during the holidays? We always need more room than our dining table can comfortably fit so I wind up grabbing folding tables to create additional seating. But those tables never really fit the space, are less sturdy and sit at different heights. Since I am not a fan of using folding tables, we came up with a solution that solves this problem and enables us to still host a large sit-down dinner without using them. If you or your spouse are handy, this weekend project is for you!

Every year, we host Thanksgiving and I love to set a formal table for sit-down meals. We frequently have a few extra guests than our dining room table accommodates so we usually grab a few folding tables to fit the extras. It bothers me that the tables sit at different heights and widths, the extra table legs get in the way, the tables feel weak and never quite look right. Through the years, I've worked with the challenges but have not loved result.


Last year we were hosting fourteen adult guests, which is two more than my table accommodates. Since one of our folding tables needed to be replaced, we searched online for new ones. We could not find anything close to what we were looking for, so we searched for alternatives but came up short.


Talking through our needs and wants, we came up with a weekend project that helped us scrap the folding tables yet enabled us to comfortably seat more than twelve guests.

Make Your Table Bigger with a DIY Tabletop


To add additional seating without using folding tables, we decided to build a custom-size tabletop that would sit on our existing table. From start to finish, this project took a weekend to complete because you need time to run to your favorite home improvement store, pick up supplies, build it and let it dry. Last year, we constructed this the weekend before Thanksgiving and it was ready to go by Thursday's festivities.


Measure the Table and Room Size


Before getting started, the first thing to consider is how you want to design your table. My existing table with the leaves comfortably fits 12 guests, but I usually need space for 13-15 adults during holiday dinners. Therefore, I wanted to create more of a square, than a rectangular shape to accommodate more guests on the ends of the table.


We measured our table with the leaves installed and considered the overall size of our dining room. To ensure movability, we also considered the space needed for people to move around the table. When discussing what materials would be best for this project, we ruled out a 4'x8' sheet of plywood because it is too small for our table. But if that size and shape works for what you need, go for it because it would be much less work than our design.

After measuring our table, we determined we wanted a tabletop that is 5'x9'. For this project, we opted to use pre-weathered shiplap boards because it gave us the option to custom-size the tabletop and would look good if we left it exposed instead of covering it up with a tablecloth. There are other options to shiplap so feel free to substitute if you prefer a different material.


Supplies


  • Pre-weathered shiplap boards (the amount you buy will depend on the overall size of your finished tabletop - we used 12)
  • (4) 1"x4" to screw the shiplap boards together and provide support
  • Wood glue
  • Sheetrock Screws
  • Screwgun
  • Saw
  • Measuring Tape

Building the Tabletop


  • First, cut the shiplap to the desired length.
  • Then, cut each 1x4 to size to meet the width of the finished table top but leave an inch or two from the ends (see photo above). The inner 1x4s should line up with the outside of the existing table that it will sit on so it does not move when it is resting on top. The reason we left it a few inches shy of extending to the very edge of the tabletop is so the 1x4's could not be seen from the sides.
  • Lay each shiplap board loosely next to each other face down on the ground (so the tabletop is facing down).
  • Then lay each 1x4 across in the place where they will get screwed in. Place them perpendicular to the shiplap boards (see photo above). The 1x4's will help secure the shiplap and provide support.
  • Set (2) 1x4's just outside the length of your existing dining room table so the tabletop will snuggly rest on top of your existing table without budging. Then set the other two a few inches away from the edge so the table ends have additional support when finished.
  • Screw the 1x4 to the first shiplap board, then apply glue in the groove so you can lock the next piece of shiplap into place.
  • Repeat this process until you are done securing and gluing all of the boards together.
  • Weight down any areas that start to bow so it dries flat. We used full paint cans but anything that has weight can be used.
  • Allow the glue to fully dry before moving and using.

Using the Tabletop


Before laying the tabletop on top of my existing dining table, we first covered it with a table cloth so the tabletop would not scratch or otherwise damage the table.


I chose to cover the tabletop for Thanksgiving instead of leaving it exposed. Since most tablecloths do not come in the size we needed, I picked up one drop cloth instead. The drop cloth was the perfect color and size to cover our new tabletop.

Final Thoughts


We are really happy with result and it worked out really well. There was so much more space on the table for guests and food. Everyone had plenty of leg room to sit comfortably. And having one large table instead of several smaller tables at varying heights was much sturdier and easier to decorate too!


It is a large piece when finished and somewhat heavy, so you will need a place to store it and two people to move it around. My husband and I were able to move it pretty easily. We lean it upright against the wall in our garage and take it out when needed. But it can easily store in an attic or basement too.

For more DIY tips, tricks and cool project ideas, click here.

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Stacy Ling

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 4 questions
  • Jjqq
    on Dec 3, 2019

    Could you take a pic of the finished project from more distance - - without drop cloth? Would love to see entire thing - thanks

    • Stacy Ling
      on Dec 5, 2019

      Hi, next time we have the tabletop set on top of the table I will do that and update the post. It will probably get updated right after Christmas. Thanks!

  • Sandra nicky
    on Dec 6, 2019

    Great idea for family gatherings, isn’t it! My need & avail space is different, so I chose a 4x8 piece of rigid foam insulation. It is VERY light, & I can handle it alone.

    • Kba12890686
      on Dec 24, 2019

      That is a great idea and you don't have to worry about putting a hot dish directly on your table without an insulating pad or pot holder.

  • Ticia
    on May 21, 2020

    I realize I'm late getting to see this but I have a glass top table which only seats 6; is there something that can be created to increase it's size as well without it being so heavy the glass may be compromised? TIA

    • Stacy Ling
      on May 21, 2020

      Hi Ticia, I wouldn’t lay anything on top of glass. It’s not worth risking the glass breaking.

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