Business Topics, tutorials

What’s Up with the Random Size of Linens

*featured photo by Michelle Joy Photography

Written by JP Fritz, President

When I first got into this business 27 years ago, the size of tables made sense 3, 4, 5 or 6 feet round and 2.5 feet by 6 or 8 feet rectangles.  Linen seemed so random, 108” round; 90×156 and 72×72?  I was soon to find out why linens are sized as they are.

Standard round sizes are 90, 108, 120 and 132 round.  This equates to cloths that go to the floor for 3, 4, 5 and 6 foot round tables.  OK, the 90” round does not exactly go to the ground for a 3’ table, but I will explain later why most companies do not carry 96” round tablecloths.  The calculation for determining a floor length linen is twice the height of a standard table of 30” plus the diameter (or width) of a table.  For example, a 4’ round table would be 48+30+30 or 108.  A 90×132 and 90×156 would go to the floor for a 6×30 or 8×30 table.

Soon, I was to learn that events that are less formal tend to have lap length table cloths.  For lap length, the tablecloths will tend to hang down between 12 and 15 inches all the way around.  Hence 8×30 table had a 60×120 lap length tablecloth.  30” wide plus 15 inches on each side and 96” long plus 12 inches on each end.  A 90” round is lap length for a 5’ table, 60” plus 15 on each side.  Most companies do not carry a 60×102 which would be lap length on a 6×30 table and a 60×120 is used instead.  I guess the theory is it is casual, so no big deal!

Earlier I stated that most companies carry a 90” round instead of 96” round, which would be floor length on a 36” round table.  There are two reasons.  The 1st is that 90” round is lap length on a 5’ round, the most common table size for round tables.  The 2nd is because most companies also carry 30” cabaret tables, meaning a 90” round cloth goes to the floor and a 96” round would puddle.

I have not yet spoken about standard square table cloths.  I thought it might have been determined by what size tablecloths the large industrial companies rented for white tablecloth restaurants, but my opinion changed when I found out they carry sizes like 61×61 and 81×81.  Most rental companies carry 54×54, 72×72 and 90×90.  I can tell you they are mostly used for less formal events on round tables.  They are also used as overlays to have a two tone look on a round or rectangle tables.  If anyone knows the exact reason we rent these square sizes, I would love to hear from you in a comment.

Finally, two newer table sizes have created the need for rental companies to carry new tablecloth sizes.  54×54 square tables require a 114×114 to go to the ground and 4×8 rectangular tables require a 108×156 to go to the ground.  In the end, the randomness I perceived was for very specific reasons.  Below is a linen size chart that can be used when trying to figure out what size cloth you need for your event.