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A buying guide to overbed tables

A buying guide to overbed tables

If you or the person you care for spends a lot of time in bed or in a chair, then a specialised overbed table can be a great option to give you a useful surface to use during your day-to-day. But there are a variety of types to choose from, which is where our handy guide can help.

What is an overbed table?

An overbed table is a useful table that is designed to be used with a bed or a chair. These types of tables are usually designed either so that the legs go underneath the bed or chair or that the table legs go around the bed or chair. Many are height adjustable and are a very useful way of keeping necessary items within easy reach.

However, not every overbed table is suitable for every different type of bed or chair. Find out more below about the different types of overbed tables.

Types of overbed tables

Divan overbed tables are designed for use with a divan bed. They usually have a much thinner, flatter base to allow the legs of the table to fit snugly beneath the bed. 

Divan overbed tables:

  • Tend not to have wheels, so that they can fit beneath the bed frame
  • Are often height-adjustable, so you can set them to the right height for your needs
  • Sometimes have tilting table tops with a lip along the edge to stop things from sliding off

If you don't have any gap between your bed and the floor, you can also get over bed tables that have a wheeled frame that fits over the top of the bed, rather than underneath it.


Wheeled overbed tables are the most common type of table, and can fit under most types of beds and chairs. 

Common features (although not every table will have these) are:

  • Tabletops that can tilt and may also have a lip along the edge to help stop things sliding off
  • Wheels to help make them easier to use - this also means that they are generally only suited for use with bed frames and chairs that aren't flush with the floor
  • Height adjustable frames to help meet your needs - some are even width adjustable too 

There are also some available with u-shaped bases that are suitable for people who use wheelchairs as it allows them to get closer to the table.


The main difference between Easylift tables and other types of overbed tables is that Easylift tables have a one-button lift to make it easier to adjust the height of the table.

This means that the frames on Easylift tables tend to have a more substantial vertical arm to accommodate the mechanism. These types of tables have larger, moulded table tops to help prevent spills.

Easylift tables usually have wheels, which makes it easier to move them from place to place but also means they're unlikely to be suitable for divan beds. Some variations of Easylift tables are also suitable to use with wheelchairs.

Top tip from our Occupational Therapist
Be careful not to tilt the tabletop too far. Even if it has a raised edge or a rubber mat, there's still a chance objects could fall from it if the angle is too severe.

Things to think about

Knowing where you want to use the table will help to narrow down your options. Will it be used with a chair, with a bed, or both? If you use a wheelchair, for example, a table with a u-shaped frame might be more suitable for you, whereas if you'll only be using it with a bed, then a traditional forked base might be best.

This will also help you to decide what size of tabletop you would need, as if you're looking for more of a raised side table, you may be better off with a narrower tabletop.

Having a table that can tilt could be useful if you were wanting to be able to rest things against it, however, if you only need it to have somewhere to put your food or drinks down then it’s unlikely you’ll need one that tilts.

If you want to be able to use your table with your bed and your favourite chair, moving it between the two, then you may want to consider one that's lightweight or has wheels so it's easier to move around. What type of table you need will all depend on where you want to use it. If you have a Divan base on your bed, for example, then a table with a sliding base might be a better option. If you're in need of a table that would work with both a wheelchair and a bed, then one with a wheelchair base may be more suitable.

Looking for an overbed table suitable for a high-needs environment? An Easylift overbed table may be what you need.

Remember, it's important to double-check that the frame on your potential table will fit with your particular bed. 

Consider where you will put the table when it isn't in use. Can it stay alongside the bed or chair or will it need to be put away? Be sure to measure where you intend to store it when it's not being used so you can make sure that the table you choose isn't too big.

Some over bed/chair tables are designed to tilt on one side, meaning they can only be used from one specific side. This won't apply to all over bed/chair tables, but it's worth considering and double-checking the product description to avoid any disappointment.

Things like non-slip mats can be a useful addition to an over bed/chair table as they help to prevent items sliding around on top of it. You can get non-slip mats and coasters in a variety of bright colours, which is handy for those with limited vision or who need colour coding to help with their orientation.

Measuring your space

Measuring your space

How to make sure you get the right overbed frame

As with any new piece of furniture, it's always a good idea to measure the space you'll be using it in to avoid any disappointments. Once you've decided where you'll be using your overbed table, you'll need to take some measurements. 

With a bed:

  • Measure the distance between the base of the bed and the floor - this is one of the biggest deciders of what frame type you can have, including whether or not you can have a wheeled frame as you may not have enough space

With a chair:

  • Measure the distance between the base of the chair and the floor
  • Measure how wide the chair or wheelchair is. If the chair is nearly flush with the floor then you will need a frame that is designed to go around the chair, rather than underneath it
Top tip from our Occupational Therapist
Did you know that overbed tables usually arrive flat-packed? While they are generally easy to put together you may find it useful to have an extra pair of hands with you to help.
Accessories to go with your overbed tables
Non-slip coasters
Non-slip coasters
  • No one likes watermarks on their table. Protect yours with a coaster - choose a non-slip one for added help in stopping your drink from sliding around.
  • Shop coasters
  • The right lighting can make a huge difference. If you're going to be using your over bed/chair table a lot then a table or desk lamp could help to make sure that you don't strain your eyes.
  • Shop lighting
Non-slip mats
Non-slip mats
  • Non-slip mats are usually a great option to help stop things sliding on the table. They are also available in a variety of colours for easy colour-coding.
  • Shop rubber mats

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Hannah Ownsworth

Hannah Ownsworth is the in-house copywriter for NRS Healthcare, writing a wide variety of content to help enable our customers to remain independent. Educated at the University of Winchester, Hannah has been working as a copywriter since 2014, when she started her career at Boots UK as part of a team streamlining and refining internal HR content. She moved on to writing clinical pages and other health and beauty content before becoming the lead retail copywriter in charge of rewriting the entire website ahead of the 2016 rebrand. She then covered a variety of topics from health and beauty all the way through to tech and software as a service (SaaS). Hannah began working for NRS Healthcare as a copywriter in 2020, working on the Complete Care Shop and Healthcare Pro websites. She works closely with experts around the business to refine her articles and help make sure that our customers are getting accurate advice and information when they need it most.

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