Table Runners – A Handy Guide on Use, Placement, Size, and Customization

Simply put, a table runner is a piece of cloth or other material you place on the table or the tablecloth that runs across the length or the breadth of the table and hangs over the edges. You can think of it as an elegant tablecloth, but it leaves most of the table exposed as it is narrow. People use runners to give their tables an exclusive look and create a theme or add to the ambiance and décor of the space. Event managers, caterers, and restaurants often use runners printed with their own or customers’ logos for added branding.

Top Reasons for Using Runners

The primary reason for using runners on dining tables is to accessorize the table décor, make it look exclusive, and show off your personal style and sense of aesthetics. In the home, runners add an extra zing to the table setting while protecting the table surface from food and drink spills, hot pans, and dripping candle wax. Commercial enterprises and business owners use a table runner with logo to boost their brand visibility, while caterers and event managers routinely use them on buffet tables to add to the ambiance of the special day.

Runner Placement

Conventionally, most people place a runner in the center of the table and run it along its length. If the table is long and seats many people, you can use multiple runners across the table's breadth. You can place a single runner in the middle or two runners crisscrossing at the center on square or round tables. Additionally, you can place runners on other furniture in the room like a chest of drawers, a dresser, a coffee table, or a credenza.  

Runner Sizes

It is important to be clear that there are no standard sizes for runners, and their length will depend on the length of the table or other furniture on which you are placing them. You should measure the table and get a runner that hangs eight to ten inches on both sides. If you are placing the runner on a table cloth, the drop should not exceed that of the tablecloth. According to Interior Design Info, the width of the table runner should not be more than a third of the table width. Runners used at trade shows, seminars, and exhibitions are different because they typically hang three-fourths of the front of the table to provide enough area for the company name and logo.


There is a large variety of fabrics and materials for table runners with different colors, patterns, and textures. For home use, you will need to choose something that goes with the rest of the décor and sets the tone of the get-together. Ideally, you should coordinate the color, pattern, and texture of the runner with the rest of the furnishings in the dining room to prevent them from clashing. You can reserve fancy materials like silk, wool, and satin for formal dinners while using cotton, linen, polyester, etc., for regular use. Commercial users can print company names, logos, and event names customized for the occasion. 

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