The Complete Guide to Dining Table Seating Capacity

By Heidy Perales · September 16, 2019

The Complete Guide to Dining Table Seating Capacity

An in depth look at what shape and size dining table you need and how many people each table accommodates.

Looking to buy a properly sized dining set? There are many factors to consider before making your selection: Do you have a small dining room? Do you entertain often? How many seats will you need? In this article we’ll provide useful tips for understanding table seating capacities in order to determine what shape and size dining table best meets your needs. 

The right dining table for your dining area

When it comes to dining tables, you should consider both the everyday and occasional use of your table. But there are some guidelines that apply to every table, regardless of shape, size, or occasion.

  • Table placement: In terms of space, try to leave 36” from the edge of your table to the nearest wall or piece of furniture.
  • Table accessibility: Ensure your guests have ample room to sit down and rise from the table with ease. 
  • Chair spacing: Leave 24”-30” per chair for comfortable seating. 

Formal vs family dining situations

When purchasing your dining table you will want to consider how the table will be used throughout the year. Special occasions might call for a more formal dining environment. While family gatherings — think: large holiday feasts or a casual jeans and t-shirt dinner party — are more relaxed. These unique dining situations, appropriately named “Formal Dining” and “Family Dining”, will affect the amount of spacing between guests and how many chairs a table can accommodate. 

  • Formal dining seating: You should allow approximately 30” spacing between each chair. 
  • Family-style and everyday dining seating: You should allow approximately 24” spacing between each chair. 

Now that you know the spacing rules, it’s simple to transition from everyday informal to special occasion formal dining, when necessary. 

Space for children vs adults at the table

Since children take up less space than adults, it’s appropriate to seat them closer together for both formal and family dining situations. For dining environments with children, we recommend utilizing bench seating instead of chairs. With bench seating, you can allow 18”-24” spacing between each child. 

Seating capacity by table shape

Dining table shape greatly affects how easy it is to seat and accommodate diners. In order of most efficient to least efficient seating capacity, rectangular tables reign supreme. Followed by oval, round, and lastly, square. Below, we provide the seating capacities for various table shapes and sizes.

Seating capacity for rectangular tables

Rectangular tables are the most efficient at seating diners for their size, particularly at larger dimensions. Room can be left for table service in the middle of a rectangular table, if desired. And there is minimal wasted space on the tabletop.

The following seating capacities provide both formal and family style recommended seating guidelines for rectangular shaped dining tables based on a 19” dining chair width.

Formal dining (30” chair spacing) for rectangular tables:

  • A 54” long rectangular table can seat up to 4 adults
  • A 60” to 72” long rectangular table can seat up to 6 adults
  • An 84” to 96” long rectangular table can seat up to 8 adults
  • A 108” to 120” long rectangular table can seat up to 10 adults

Family dining (24” chair spacing) for rectangular tables:

  • A 54” to 66” long rectangular table can seat up to 6 adults
  • A 72” - 84” long rectangular table can seat up to 10 adults, depending on table width
  • A 96” - 108” long rectangular table can seat up to 12 adults, depending on table width
  • A 120” long rectangular table can seat up to 14 adults, depending on table width

Seating capacity for oval tables

Oval tables are the next most efficient for seating capacity. Some space can be wasted at the ends of the table where guests cannot be seated together as closely without bumping into one another, or if the table has pedestals that interfere with foot room. There is still plenty of room for diners to sit comfortably along the sides of the table and have table service.

The following seating capacities provide both formal and family style recommended seating guidelines for oval shaped dining tables based on a 19” dining chair width.

Formal dining (30” chair spacing) for oval tables:

  • A 72” long oval table can seat up to 6 adults
  • A 84” to 96” long oval table can seat up to 8 adults
  • A 108” to 120” long oval table can seat up to 10 adults

Family dining (24” chair spacing) for oval tables:

  • A 72” to 84” long oval table can seat up to 8 adults, depending on table width
  • A 96” to 108” long oval table can seat up to 10 adults, depending on table width
  • A 120” long oval table can seat up to 12 adults, depending on table width

Seating capacity for round tables

Round tables are fantastic for smaller groups, but as table size increases, more surface area becomes impractical for use in serving. Additionally, you would need a fairly large round table to accommodate a small number of guests. As a rule of thumb, you will gain two diners per 12” increase in diameter.

The following seating capacities provide both formal and family style recommended seating guidelines for round dining tables based on a 19” dining chair width.

Formal dining (30” chair spacing) for round tables:

  • A 42” to 48” round table can seat up to 4 adults
  • A 54” round table can seat up to 5 adults
  • A 60” round table can seat up to 6 adults
  • A 72” round table can seat up to 8 adults

Family dining (24” chair spacing) for round tables:

  • A 42” round table can seat up to 5 adults
  • A 48” to 54” round table can seat up to 6 adults
  • A 60” round table can seat up to 8 adults
  • A 72” round table can seat up to 10 adults

Seating capacity for square tables

Square seating is best used in small dining areas. Because of its shape, it isn’t the best for seating many guests nor maximizing space. That said, you may add leaves to square tables to add additional seating when needed. 

The following seating capacities provide recommended seating guidelines for square dining tables based on a 19” dining chair width.

  • A 24” square table can seat up to 2 adults
  • A 30” to 36” square table can seat up to 4 adults
  • A 42” square table can seat up to 8 adults

Below you will find a visual representation of the information above. If you have any questions about what size or shape dining table is best for your needs, please contact Countryside Amish Furniture.