Buying Guide for Fine Table Linens

Fine table linens can elevate your restaurant from a casual environment to one that is elegant and formal. But the number of fine table linen products on the market may seem overwhelming, with a dizzying array of designs, materials and customization options. 

Selecting the right product can have an important impact on the image you portray to your customers as well as your overall budget. Keep in mind that fine table linens are not a one-time expense — there will be costs associated with the cleaning, maintenance and replacement of the products. 

What Are Fine Table Linens?

Fine table linens are materials placed on and around tables. There are four types of fine table linens used in restaurants:

  • Table cloths and covers: Perhaps the most commonly used fine table linen, table cloths and covers are placed directly over the table. 

  • Table skirts: Table skirts are placed on the edges of tables and around the legs to protect these areas and hide blemishes. 

  • Napkins: Napkins are placed on top of, or to the side of, plates. They are used for both decorative and functional purposes, allowing customers to remove food residue from their mouths, faces and hands. 

  • Place mats: Place mats are placed directly under the plate to further protect the surface of the table. They also enhance the formal aesthetic you are hoping to portray. 

Why Are Fine Table Linens Used?

Table linens are used for three purposes:

  1. Aesthetics: Fine table linens provide a formal, elegant appearance that can help distinguish your fine dining restaurant from a casual one. 

  2. Protection: Fine table linens can help protect the surfaces, edges and legs of your tables from scratches, spills and dings. 

  3. Hygiene: Fine table linens support hygienic dining, such as in the case of napkins that can help your guests comfortably remove foods and liquids from their bodies and clothes. Tablecloths allow tables to more easily be cleaned between guests because the entire tablecloth may be removed and replaced.

Types of Fine Table Linens & How to Select One

Each of the four categories of fine table linens is available in a wide range of designs, colors, materials and prices. Selecting the right one will help set the overall aesthetic of your restaurant and the general impression you give to your customers. 

Factors you should consider when selecting a fine table linen product include the following:

  • Price: Fine table linens range from inexpensive budget options to expensive luxury varieties. The amount you spend on your fine table linens will depend on the importance you place on them, your budget and how long you want them to last. As a general rule, high-quality options will cost more but will last longer.

  • Quality: One of the keys to selecting an optimal fine table linen product for your needs is quality. Fine table linens need to be washed frequently, so you will likely need to purchase high-quality, durable materials that can withstand multiple washes without falling apart or becoming threadbare if you have many customers. 

  • Design: Table linens are commonly white, but they are also available in many customizable colors and designs. A general rule of thumb is to coordinate the color of your fine table linens with your crockery or match them to the shades of the curtains or walls for a coordinated, professional appearance. 

Buying Versus Renting

One consideration you will likely want to make is whether to buy or rent fine table linens. Buying may be an appropriate option if you have a large budget, are seeking the most customization options, have fewer customers and maintenance needs or simply want to own the product yourself without having to share it with other restaurants. 

However, renting is a superior option for many restaurants. This option is best if you are seeking a solid color, such as white, and you want to avoid the hassle and worry of cleaning and replacing the linens yourself. Renting also makes sense if you have a high volume of customers and want to avoid having to worry about the logistics of implementing a regular table linen maintenance schedule. 

Rent Your Linens From Alsco

For those who prefer renting, Alsco offers a reputable fine table rental service that takes the stress of linen maintenance off your hands. Your linens will always look sparkling clean and professional because we replace any that are worn, stained or torn. Our linens are also resistant to fading and pilling, ensuring your tables consistently look beautiful.

Reach out to us today to learn more about our linen rental services and how we can help your restaurant.


Elevate the Dining Experience. (2023). Alsco.

Rebecca´s Table Linen Buying Guide. (February 2022). Rebecca Udall.

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