Platform for Greatness: Choosing Your Grooming Table
By Daryl Conner
When it comes to investing in your grooming business, spending money on a well–made, versatile table is a great place to start. Much of the important work you do happens on the top of a grooming table, yet many groomers scrimp when making this vital purchase.
The average groomer spends many hours a day working at a grooming table so having one that helps you perform safer and more comfortably just makes good sense. There are lots of options for groomers when choosing the platform on which the magic happens, let’s look at some of them.
Folding grooming tables come in a variety of sizes, heights, shapes and colors. They are affordably priced, and most offer a nice, sturdy place to keep pets safely elevated while being groomed. They fold flat for easy transportation, too—though some can be quite heavy. The height varies; a quick online search showed me models ranging from 24 to 34 inches high. A few models offer adjustable legs, but the table cannot be adjusted while a pet is on it.
The drawback to this type of table is that even if you have one with adjustable legs, you can only vary the height a few inches, and changing the height is a bit of a project. Groomers must lift most dogs up, and it can be a challenge to reach all parts of tall dogs once they are on the table. This is the most affordable option, some stationary tables can be purchased new for under $100.
The first hydraulic pet grooming table came about when the base from a hydraulic chair (the type barbers and hair stylists often use) was fitted with a tabletop and offered to groomers. This innovation was marvelous, but since the top balanced on a center shaft, it could be very wobbly. And the shaft limited how far the table could be lowered.
From this original design, improved models with “Z” shaped bases came about. These changes offer a far sturdier table, which can be lowered (depending on brand and style) to as little as 13”. This makes it simple for large dogs to step up on the table—a huge help to groomers’ backs! Height can be varied as you work so you can reach the top of a “Royal” Standard Poodle’s head without having to stand on a chair.
The downside to hydraulic tables is that motion of the foot pump can be frightening to some pets and groomers must manually operate the pump with a foot lever to change the height. Very basic models can be found starting around $400.
More infinitely and easily adjustable are electric tables. Just the touch of a button and the height raises or lowers smoothly. Most pets find this less of a challenge to adapt to, and it is certainly easier on the groomer to depress a button than to manually operate a pump.
Hydraulic and electric tables are a smart investment for groomers, reducing back and neck strain and helping us stay strong and healthy so we can enjoy our career for many years. Budget models start around $500.
Other Factors to Consider
Once you have decided which type of table will best suit the way you work, take the options each brand offers into consideration. Tabletops, also known as “platforms,” can be made from a variety of materials, including stainless steel, plywood, particle or fiber board, or other reconstituted wood products.
Lower-priced tables will often have reconstituted wood tops. Even when covered with a no-slip top layer, moisture from the grooming environment and wet pets can eventually degrade the wood and cause it to crack and splinter. Also, grooming arms that clamp to reconstituted wood will eventually dig into the wood and damage it. This creates an obvious hazard to pets, and the potential for a ruined table with one good tug from a strong dog.
If you choose one of these tables, check to see if replacement tops are available. Investing in a better-quality platform will ensure that you can safely use your table for years to come.
This often under-appreciated tool helps keep pets safe. Look for very sturdy arms made from steel, that are either bolted (not screwed) into the table itself or come with a well-made clamp that will keep the arm in position.
Lower-end tables often come with ribbed, rubber topping. Though this is slip-resistant, it can be frustrating to clean, and many dogs, especially larger breeds, may find standing on the ribs to be uncomfortable to their feet. Pebble finished tops don’t have quite as much traction, but they are far easier to sanitize and seem to be more comfortable for pets to stand on.
Other options are available. Some tables come with illuminated platforms, others have tops that can spin with the flip of a switch so you can sit or stand still and move the dog into the optimum position to work on it. Some tables have built-in hooks to hang clippers from, drawers or cubbies for storage. There are brands that offer a grooming arm that spans the entire length of the table, offering multiple points for attaching grooming loops to position pets. Some come with colorful paint to match your business theme. Some tables have casters that make it easy to roll your table around. Many groomers like this so they can move a dog from table to tub without having to lift it.
Take the size of the platform into consideration. If you groom mostly small- to medium-sized pets, a smaller top will give them less room to move around on while you work. If you have an affinity for styling Saint Bernards, make sure you are choosing a platform that will comfortably hold a very large dog.
A quality grooming table is an investment that will last for years. It will keep pets safer, allow stylists to work more comfortably, and help eliminate muscle strain. ✂️