How to buy a Game Table

How to Buy a Game Table

A Guide to Selecting a Game Table that Matches your Personal Style
by Scarlet Scharader


A game table is a fun addition to any home, adding a touch of playful elegance to your furnishings.  However, before you buy a game table you should be aware of the options available to you, so that you will be able to buy the game table that best matches your own personal style.  Buying a game table is an investment, and you can expect to live with the results for years to come.  This guide will cover all of the things that you need to consider before buying a game table, helping to ensure that your final purchase will bring you long-term pleasure and enjoyment.


Develop a Personal Style before Buying a Game Table

When it comes to buying furniture, you want to spend your money on pieces that best fit your own personal style.  A game table is no exception to this.  Today, game tables come in a wide range of designs to complement your furniture style.  If you are drawn toward ornate carved pieces, a game table like the Anastasia line could fit into your furniture theme.  If you prefer simple, clean cut lines, the Prodigy game table line might be right for you.  However, you should develop a plan before you start to buy furniture of any kind; if you make purchases impulsively, you will have trouble tying your furnishings together for an organized look.  In order to end up with a room that looks finished and complete, you should first develop a personal style and then buy a game table that fits into your dream furniture design.


Although a personal style seems like something that would come naturally, most people find that it needs to be developed through learning and practice.  When developing a personal style towards buying a game table, there are two major elements to consider:  the style of furniture that you prefer and the way that you intend to use the game table.  Once you have your personal style in mind, it will be easy to buy a game table that is right for you.


Choosing the Best Furniture Style for Your Game Table

If you are unsure of which furniture styles appeal to you most, expose yourself to as many different variations as you can by browsing through catalogs, visiting furniture stores, and viewing websites online.  Pay close attention to the looks you hate as well as the styles you love.  It can be fun to consider the latest fashion trends, but realize that if you try to be too cutting edge, you might get tired of your expensive furniture when the fashion changes.  If you want to avoid any chance of becoming a fashion victim, focus on the classical decorating styles for the bulk of your furniture purchase, and experiment with new trends in small amounts.  That way, if the style does not hold up over time, you can easily change it and your home and furniture will not end up looking dated.


Even if you have found a style you want to emphasize in your home, you don’t have to be completely faithful to it.  Decorators have made lovely rooms by mixing and matching pieces in a variety of styles.  If you feel bored by furniture that looks like it was all picked from the same showroom, an eclectic style might be more appropriate for you. 


The wide range of options available today makes it easy for you to buy a game table that matches your furniture style.  Whether you want to buy a game table that perfectly matches your other major furniture pieces, or you want to buy a game table that becomes the center of attention by having its own unique look in an eclectic design, you will be able to find the style that fits your own personal taste.


Buying a Game Table that Fits your Needs

Once you have an idea of what furniture styles appeal to your taste, it’s time to imagine how the game table that you will buy will fit into your personal lifestyle.  Will children be using your game table, or will adults be indulging in serious games?  Is chess the only game you will be playing, or do you want to buy a game table that is versatile enough to handle backgammon, poker, and other card games?  Will the game table be placed in a high-traffic area where it will often be bumped or jostled, or will it be set into its own secluded nook?  Do you intend to use the game table daily, or only want it for show?  These considerations will have a major impact on the type of game table you will want to buy. 


Practical Guide to Choosing a Game Table to Buy

Now that you have an idea of the issues you’ll want to consider before you buy a game table, it’s time to get practical.  If you are buying a game table as a long-term investment, you want to be sure to choose pieces that are durable as well as beautiful.  Price alone is not a good indication of quality – you can find excellent furniture pieces at a garage sale, or shoddily made furniture that is woefully overpriced.  In order to be sure you are paying a fair price and buying the best furniture for your home, you should know how to judge quality work.  Learning a little bit about the construction of furniture, the different kinds of woods that are popular today, and the signs of high quality craftsmanship will help you make all the right choices while buying a game table.


Recognizing Quality Lumber in a Wooden Game Table

Wooden furniture is a classic and time-honored element of just about any furniture style.  A game table that is well constructed out of high quality wood is going to last for generations, making the investment pay for itself many times over in the long run.  Understanding the techniques used to build wooden game tables will help you select the table with the quality construction you deserve.


Lumber Used in Wooden Game Tables

The lumber used to create wooden game tables can be broken down into three main categories:  hardwoods, softwoods, and composites.  Hardwoods, which are made from leafy deciduous trees like cherry and oak, are heavy and solid, and resist scratches and denting.  Because of this, hardwood furniture tends to be of higher quality and more expensive than other lumber.  A game table constructed of hardwood such as the Salmonica line will be stable and durable, able to stand up to many years of serious game playing.


Softwood furniture comes from evergreen needle trees like pine and fir, and tends to be less durable and require more care than hardwood furniture.  Softwood lumber is also more prone to knots and splits.  For all of these reasons, softwood is not the best lumber to use for the base construction of a game table.  However, softwoods such as South American Rosewood and Bird’s Eye Maple make lovely veneers and inlays for the game board.


The third and least expensive kind of lumber used in wood furniture is composite lumber, which is manufactured from scraps of hardwood or softwood mixed with resin and put under tremendous pressure.  Composites include particleboard and plywood.  Although composites are technically considered real wood, they are neither as durable nor as lovely in appearance as solid wood.  However, some game tables use composite wood for the inside of drawers and other less visible places, which can bring down the total price of the game table.


Wood Finishes Available when Buying a Game Table

Game tables made from the same kind of wood can have a dramatically different appearance depending on the finish that has been used on it.  The right finish can increase the durability of your furniture by protecting wood from damage by heat, moisture, and dryness.  When buying furniture, it is important to assess the different kinds of wood finishes that are available, and the effects that they can have on your furnishings.


Finishes for wood game tables run the gamut from a deep, smooth layer appropriate for elegant furnishings to a distressed wood look that fits in beautifully with a rustic style.  Distressed finishes are recommended for furniture that will see a lot of use, because they will not show fingerprints, scratches, or other wear and tear as easily.  For example, the Anastasia and Andalucia game table lines come with the option of a Cracked Antique Finish, to give a rustic “shabby chic” look.


Finish can also totally change the appearance of the lumber used in furniture construction.  Wood finish can be clear to let the beauty of the natural grain shine through, or it can take on colors from different types of wood to normal paint colors.  With today’s finishes, it is possible to have an oak table with a cherry wood stain, for example, as offered in the Salmonica game table.  Colored wood finishes have an advantage over paint, because they do not chip or crack like paint does.


A high quality finish adds many years of life to even the highest quality game tables.  The best finishes are applied by hand in many layers to create a deep and even color to your furniture.  If you have chosen to buy a game table with a protective finish, any scratches or minor damage will be easy to repair by sanding down and retouching the finish.  This is a much simpler repair than damage to the wood of the furniture itself.  Because the finish has a major impact on durability, it is an important aspect of buying a game table.


Veneers in Quality Game Tables

The use of veneer has gotten a bad name recently, because it is oftentimes associated with composite woods like plywood.  Over time, the veneer of composite furniture often peels back, leaving an ugly strip of exposed particleboard.  Because of this, people oftentimes assume that veneer has no place in high quality game tables.


However, nothing could be farther from the truth.  The art of veneering, which involves laying thin strips of wood on top of the core construction of the game table, has been practiced in furniture construction since the time of the ancient Egyptians, and even expensive Chippendale furniture uses it today.  When it comes to buying a quality game table, veneer is often used to create a beautiful game board, as well as a lovely tabletop.


Veneer has a number of advantages in the construction of a game table.  For example, you can achieve a flexibility of design with veneer that just isn’t possible using only the furniture’s core wood.  Veneer allows designers to inlay different kinds of wood in decorative patterns for the game board and inlay.  The most beautiful lumber is often turned into veneer, because it is possible to earn more money for a particularly fine log by selling it in strips. 


Furthermore, veneer protects the surface of the game table.  Because it is laid across the grain of the core wood, it helps to prevent cracking or splitting over time.  It is also applied with heavy-duty glues, which helps to strengthen the wood of your game table.


Recognizing Quality Construction when Buying a Game Table

Now that you have learned a little bit about the different woods, finishes, and techniques used in building wood game tables, you will want to be able to recognize the signs that the piece you buy are really well built.  In general, a high quality game table should have a solid design and parts that fit together without gaps or unevenness.  The game table should not creak or sway if you apply pressure to it. 


When lumber is cut for furniture, it must be dried before it can be used.  The best method of drying lumber is called kiln drying, which means that the raw lumber is placed in a heated chamber.  This process removes more of the moisture from the wood than air drying does, meaning that the wood is less sensitive to changes of humidity in your home.  If you are buying furniture pieces that are made from kiln-dried wood, such as game tables from Riley Brothers, you can rest assured that they will be less likely to split or crack over time.


When it comes to checking for quality when buying a game table, you should pay special attention to the furniture’s details.  For example:


  • Make sure the finish is smooth, even, and free of bubbles and blemishes.
  • If you are buying a game table with a separate backgammon inset, make sure the grain of the inset matches the rest of the table when it is in place.  Also, check that the insert fits well, without any gaps between it and the game table.
  • If the game table you are buying has drawers, check to make sure they slide smoothly.  Make sure they have glides to protect the wood of the furniture, and a stop to prevent the drawer from falling out.
  • Make sure the insides of the drawers are smooth and finished with felt, to prevent damage to the wood of the drawer or to your game pieces when they are stored inside.
  • Game tables whose bases are carved from a solid piece of wood will be much more stable and durable in the long run than pieces pieced together from different woods.
  • Pay special attention to the edges of your game table.  Edges that are routed instead of flat give an elegant three-dimensional look to your game table.


Extra Features to Look for When Buying a Game Table

When buying a game table, extra features are what will really set a high quality table apart from run-of-the-mill pieces.  For example, unlike standard pieces Riley Brothers game tables feature not one but two felt-lined drawers, giving you plenty of room to store chess pieces, a game clock, and even a couple of strategy books.


Riley Brothers game tables such as the Anastasia line also feature slide-out cup holders, which provide a convenient place for game players to store a drink without fear that a careless move will knock over the cup.  These beautifully designed cup holders help prevent damage to the game table without sacrificing convenience or style.


Attention to detail is another sign of a high quality game table.  Brass fixtures for the drawer handles and other hardware are a standard feature on Riley Brothers lines such as the Fiorentini.  Hand-carved details such as table leg carvings and edging are a sign of high quality workmanship when buying a game table.  Hand carving adds an air of sophistication and beauty that cannot be matched by game tables that are constructed in bulk.


Buying Furniture to Complement your Game Table

If you are creating a gaming room, you will want to buy furniture that matches and complements your game table.  Riley Brothers features a line of chairs and bars that will match the look of your new gaming table perfectly.


Tips on Buying Chairs to Match your Game Table

If you are buying chairs to match a game table, you will need pieces that not only are made of high quality construction to last for years, but that also remain comfortable during long hours of play.  For this reason, Riley Brothers offers chairs that match your game table not only in look and style, but also in their construction techniques and attention to detail.  Riley Brothers chairs are made from solid wood, and are already fully assembled upon delivery. 


Furthermore, they feature a high tech foam that holds its shape and durability even after hours of use, meaning that you will not end up with a sore back even after hours of intensive chess at your game table. 


Riley Brothers chairs are available in a variety of finishes and styles to match your game table, and can be purchased with or without arms.


Buying Home Bars to Match your Game Table

A game room is never really complete without a bar, and buying a bar that matches your game table and chairs will tie the room together for an elegant look.  Riley Brothers offers two styles of bars to match their game tables – the Anastasia home bar, which is the perfect complement to the Anastasia game table, and the Firenzi home bar, whose elegant lines fit well with all of the game tables.  Both of these bars feature high quality craftsmanship, careful attention to detail, and plenty of room to store your drinks and glassware.


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