Are Table Overlays Different From Tablecloths?

Table overlays are linens used to “top off” or add an extra layer of fabric to a tablescape, similar to table runners. We all know an overlay looks great when paired with a complementing tablecloth, but are table overlays really any different from tablecloths?

Coral-Tablescape-Spring-Wedding-Step-5

This photo from our Coral Tablescape for Spring Weddings post features a coral overlay on top of a white tablecloth.

In a nutshell, no: table overlays are the exact same thing as tablecloths! The only difference between the two is how you use them. An overlay is used to partially cover a tablecloth while also introducing another fabric and/or color element to the tablescape. Generally, you’ll never see table linens called “table overlays” if the linen exceeds 90 inches. At LinenTablecloth, we only carry 60 in. and 72 in. table overlays, but a 90 in. tablecloth can easily be repurposed as an overlay if you know your measurements. Technically, linen manufacturers could label any relatively small tablecloth as an overlay; however, not every fabric type looks good as an overlay. Organza is a perfect material because the sheer quality of organdy makes the tablecloth color underneath slightly visible. Satin is also a great material to use as an overlay–especially when placed on top of a polyester tablecloth–because satin shines and offers significant contrast to polyester.

Calculating what tablecloth can serve as an overlay is essentially the same as calculating tablecloth sizes. The only difference is that, instead of aiming to calculate for a full or half drop, the idea is to calculate a drop that’s roughly a third of the overall height. Most banquet tables are 30 inches in height, so the drop of an overlay should be roughly a third or maybe even a quarter of the overall drop–about a 5-15 inch drop, depending on your personal preference.

Table overlays are available in either rounds or squares, and you can even put a round overlay on a square table and vice versa. Really, it’s all about your personal style! The measurements below apply for both round and square overlays, as you use the exact same formula to calculate the drop of both round and square tablecloths. All measurements listed below are based on approximate calculations:

Table Overlay Sizes

30 in. round or square table (seats 2-4 guests)—>60 in. table overlay or tablecloth

36 in. round or square table (seats 2-4 guests)—>60 in. table overlay or tablecloth

42 in. round or square table (seats 4-5 guests)—>60 in. table overlay or tablecloth

48 in. round or square table (seats 4-5 guests)—>72 in. table overlay or tablecloth

54 in. round or square table (seats 6-8 guests)—>72 in. table overlay or tablecloth

60 in. round or square table (seats 8-10 guests)—>72 in. table overlay or tablecloth

66 in. round or square table (seats 9-11 guests)—>90 in. table overlay or tablecloth

72 in. round or square table (seats 10-12 guests)—>90 in. table overlay or tablecloth

Table Overlay Drop Formula

Table-Overlay-Drop-Formula

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We hope this blog helps you with your upcoming event! Please share with anyone who could benefit from this information, and feel free to leave any questions or comments in the comment box below!