Rectangular Wood Coffee Tables: How to Determine Quality

A wooden rectangular coffee table or accent table is such a classic design piece that it can pretty much fit into any living room style regardless if your style is mid-century modern or glam. Popular modern coffee tables are farmhouse coffee tables and rustic coffee tables which are typically always made of wood and are rectangular in shape.

Not only that but wooden rectangular coffee tables also offer a level of functionality to your living room furniture that can make your living space look better and work better too. However, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the quality of wooden rectangular coffee tables when you are trying to buy them. The last thing you want is a cheap table top that wasn’t put together very well and won’t last you. After all, a coffee table is a piece of furniture that you definitely need to make a solid investment on. Cheap material and production should be avoided at all costs, but how can you tell? The good news is that we are here to help you determine the quality of solid wood coffee tables before you buy so that you can be sure to get the most bang for your buck on a piece that will look good and hold up over time.

Check the Construction

When it comes to wooden coffee tables, the most important thing is quality construction that creates a nice and sturdy piece. The last thing you want is a wobbly table where the wood top is flimsy or one leg is uneven with the others! Here are some tips to help you determine the quality of construction on solid wood coffee tables:

  • A good thing to remember is that the more actual ground area that is covered by the legs or base of the coffee table, the more sturdy it is. So while coffee tables with really skinny legs definitely look good, they might not be the most sturdy. For some people, this is fine since the coffee table is more of a decorative piece, like an accent table or end table. While for others who demand more functionality from their coffee table, like if they plan to use their coffee table as a storage coffee table (like for storing board games), skinny legs might not be enough sturdiness for the craziness of life.
  • Another good thing to do when shopping for a wooden coffee table to check its quality is to check the strength of the table by putting pressure on it – not too much, but just enough. If you hear any creaks or cracks, then it probably isn’t very good quality and might not be worth the purchase. You also want to try to lightly rock or jostle the table to see if any of the pieces move – they obviously should not move at all of squeak. Make sure that it is level to a hard surface floor and that any abnormalities aren’t disguised by placing it on top of a rug.
  • When it comes to how the rectangle coffee table is actually assembled and put together, there are some things you need to look for here as well. Check the durability of any shelving that is a part of your coffee table, such as any bottom shelves, lower shelves or open shelves. Nails probably aren’t the best tool here, and instead, you should look for dowels and screws so that the table is sturdy, durable, and will hold up over time. Glue should generally be avoided, especially in any areas that are visible from the outside.

Check the Wood Finish

While the wood finish of a wooden coffee table might not seem as important as the construction, a shoddy finish can indicate that other parts of the table might be shoddy as well. There are three steps to finishing a wooden table: sanding, staining, and finishing. Every step needs to be fully completed in order to ensure the best quality. It’s up to you to make sure that your table looks good with your home decor and is worth the investment! So here are some things that you need to look for when checking the quality of the table’s wood finish:

  • When it comes to a good standing, you need to make sure that the wood’s finish is clean and even. Pay special attention to any dark lines, white dots, stains, or scars that might indicate that the wood wasn’t sanded enough.
  • While the beauty of wood often comes from its imperfections, the stain is an important part of the process that can really help to create a beautiful piece. A good stain is evenly applied with clean lines and avoids dark spots. At the same time, every piece of wood is different and might have different features that show variations in stain. A perfect stain definitely isn’t vital to a good coffee table but you want to make sure to take a nice hard look at the piece before you buy it so that you don’t discover any problem areas down the road after you’ve already bought it.
  • Finally, the finish of a wooden coffee table should make the wood really smooth and complete so as to protect the wood. Make sure that there are so dust specks or bubbles on the surface of the wood that affect its look.

Types of Wood

If you don’t know much about wood, you might assume that all wood is the same. But you need to know the different variations of natural wood so that you know what you’re buying and buy something that you will love for years to come.

Hardwood versus Softwood:

first thing that you need to consider when choosing a wooden rectangular coffee table is the overall type of wood that you are looking for. There are two main types of wood: hardwood and softwood. Softwood is a more affordable option while hardwood is more elegant and luxurious and therefore, more expensive. The option that is the best for you will depend on your budget, your style, and the level of durability that you need from your table. In any case, we will go over all of the different types of wood to help you choose the best one for your wooden coffee table:


  • Pine – Pine is more of a rustic material that is easy to worth with and contains a lot of character items like knots, swirls, and color variations.
  • Cedar – Cedar is a red colored wood that has a great odor, is very durable and can stand the test of time.
  • Fir – Fir is similar to pine, but it has less character and is also harder than pine and is therefore, more durable. It’s one of the cheapest woods that is still really solid and durable.
  • Poplar – Poplar is a very light colored wood that is really smooth and easy to work with. It lacks a lot of the variations that we see in pine and fir that can create a nice clean look with a softwood.


  • Oak – Oak comes in red, white, and blue – although red is by far the most common. Red oak has a slight pink tint that makes it pretty recognizable when it comes to furnishings. Oak is a very traditional wood that has been used in furnishings for years.
  • Maple – Maple is one of the hardest woods around and is therefore a great option if you want a really durable coffee table. The grains in maple are less apparent than in oak which gives it a creamy and classy appearance.
  • Mahogany – Mahogany is a beautiful wood with a rich reddish brown color, often called espresso. Mahogany has a very even texture and can provide a really uniform look that’s hard to achieve with other types of wood. It’s also softer than other woods and can be stained to achieve many different looks.
  • Cherry – Cherry has a really distinctive rich color and is traditionally used in making cabinets for kitchens. Cherry offers light and delicate patterns that really contribute to a quality looking coffee table.
  • Walnut – Walnut has quite a distinctive rich chocolate color that is known for its ability to be carved. Walnut is a high quality wood that is more expensive than others due to its durability and strength.
  • Manufactured woods: Manufactured wood has become more popular in recent years due to its lightness and cheapness compared to real wood. However, you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to coffee tables. While manufactured wood might look like real wood from afar, you can definitely tell upon closer inspection that it isn’t the real deal since you are sacrificing the unique patterns and imperfections that you get with real wood. If you are really looking for a quality table that enhances the look and feel of your room, you should stick with real wood instead of manufactured/engineered woods like MDL and MDF.

The Rundown

Overall, while choosing a wooden coffee table might seem like a hassle, if you do your due diligence and know what to look for, you can definitely find a piece that you love, that works for your family, and that will last a long time. Many people are hesitant about buying wooden tables because they can be more expensive than the alternatives, but when it comes to wood, you really get what you pay for. Why choose a round coffee table, glass coffee table, metal coffee table, industrial coffee table or marble coffee table when you can choose a quality wooden rectangular coffee table that is a timeless piece ensured to give a warm and expensive feel to your living room or any living space that will last you for years to come. Just make sure to follow all the pointers in this guide to make sure that you end up with a quality piece.