Home Mobility and Access The Complete 2023 Guide to Overbed Tables

The Complete 2023 Guide to Overbed Tables

by Leona Small

A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Right Overbed Table for Your Needs

a hospital room with two beds and a desk and two overbed tables with wheels

Are you someone who spends a lot of time in bed due to injury or illness? Or perhaps you have a loved one who requires extended bed rest? If so, then an overbed table may be just what you need to make your daily routine more comfortable and convenient. In this complete guide, we’ll explore the benefits of overbed tables, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

What are Overbed Tables and Why Do You Need One?

Overbed tables are portable tables designed to be placed over a bed or chair. They provide a stable surface for a wide range of activities. 

Standard overbed tables are designed to provide a flat surface that can be adjusted to the desired height and angle. They typically come with a base that slides under the bed, and a top surface that can be tilted or adjusted to various heights. These tables are ideal for people who need to perform tasks while in bed, such as reading, writing, or using a laptop. They are also useful for patients who are bedridden and need a flat surface to eat or drink.

If you or a loved one spends a lot of time in bed, an overbed table can help you maintain your independence and improve your quality of life. With an overbed table, you can easily reach your food and drinks, keep your phone or tablet within arm’s reach, and have a comfortable surface to work on or enjoy leisure activities. It’s important to take every effort to make your space comfortable and cozy when spending extended amounts of time in bed, and an overbed table provides a convenience that most will appreciate!

a woman in a hospital bed holding a glass of orange juice.

Types of Overbed Tables

There are several types of overbed tables available on the market today. The four most common types are:

  1. Tilt-Top Overbed Tables: These tables have a tilting surface that can be adjusted to different angles, making them ideal for reading, writing, or using a laptop.
  2. Adjustable Height Overbed Tables: These tables can be raised or lowered to different heights, making them suitable for a range of different bed heights or those who need to use a wheelchair.
  3. Rolling Overbed Tables: These tables have wheels on the bottom, making them easy to move around as needed. They are especially useful for individuals who need to change positions frequently or who need to move the table out of the way when not in use.
  4. Non-Tilt Overbed Tables: These tables have a flat surface and are suitable for activities such as eating, playing cards, or doing puzzles.

Many of the overbed tables available for purchase have combined some or all of the features above, which can be useful for a person looking for an option to meet a wide range of needs.

How to Choose the Right Overbed Table

Choosing the right overbed table is important to ensure that it meets your needs and provides the level of comfort and convenience you desire. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an overbed table:

  1. Size: Make sure to choose a table that fits the width of your bed or chair.
  2. Height: Consider the height of the table and the bed or chair it will be used with, and make sure it is adjustable to meet your needs.
  3. Surface Material: Look for a table with a durable and easy-to-clean surface.
  4. Weight Capacity: Check the weight capacity of the table to ensure it can support your needs.
  5. Mobility: If you need to move the table frequently, look for a rolling overbed table with wheels that is easy to move.
  6. Tilt and Angle: If you plan to use the table for activities such as reading or using a laptop, consider a tilt-top overbed table that can be adjusted to different angles.

Special features commonly found on some overbed tables include a raised edge or a cup holder. A raised edge provides the convenience of keeping your items securely on the table top when the overbed table is in motion, but may get in the way of activities such as writing or typing on a computer. Cup holders or indentations are another common feature and may prevent spillage in case you need to move the table out of the way or accidentally bump into the table while a drink is sitting on it.

How to Use an Overbed Table

Using an overbed table is easy and straightforward. Here are some tips for using your overbed table:

  1. Adjust the height of the table to the desired level.
  2. Make sure the table is stable and secure before placing your food, drinks, or other items on the table.
  3. Use the table as you would any sturdy surface.
  4. When not in use, roll or push the table out of the way, keeping the top free of clutter to avoid injury or damage to items while it’s in motion.

Who needs an Overbed Table?

While there are well-known medical uses for overbed tables, a wide variety of people could benefit from an overbed table as they are versatile and allow for many at-home uses as well. 

You may want to consider purchasing one if you or a loved one are:

  • Recovering from a major surgery and have recently been discharged from a hospital
  • Recovering from minor surgery and need to be resting and recovering at home for a few weeks
  • Living with temporary or permanent mobility issues
  • Needing a more convenient way to access your items from a bed or chair
A young boy sitting at an overbed table with a tray of food.

Questions to Ask When Considering an Overbed Table for Your Space

When choosing the best overbed table for your needs, one should answer several questions first:

  • How high should my overbed table be?
  • What is the width of the chair or bed the table will be used with? What width should my overbed table be?
  • What kind of base material do I want?
    • Potential Consideration: Steel is sturdier than aluminum, but is also heavier.
  • What kind of tabletop material do I want?
    • Potential Consideration: Plastic is the easiest to clean and provides a smooth writing surface.
  • Will I need to tilt the tabletop often?
  • Will I need to move the tabletop often? If so, will I benefit most from an overbed table with wheels?

Next, think through where you’d like to purchase this item. Larger retailers such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware may have some options to try out in-store, but this is most likely an item you’ll want to order from an online retailer such as Amazon as it’s bulky and potentially heavy. In most parts of the United States, ordering from Amazon means a low price on an item that’s typically delivered to your front door within two days. And, should the item end up being too big or small for your space, or not functional in some way, you can easily return it within 30 days of purchase.

Selecting the Right Overbed Table for Your Space

We’ve researched and rounded up seven overbed table options (with two bonus options!) to consider when selecting the overbed table that will work best in your space. Keep in mind they’re all slightly different sizes, made of different materials, and are priced at different price points.

1. The overall favorite (Editor’s Pick): Vaunn Medical Adjustable Overbed Bedside Table With Wheels

Vaunn Adjustable Overbed Bedside Table With Wheels (Hospital and Home Use), Walnut Brown
  • MULTIPURPOSE OVERBED TABLE - Helps disabled individuals and anyone with physical limitations or injuries perform their daily tasks (e.g. eating, reading, working) without having to get out of bed. Assembly required.
  • INFINITE HEIGHT ADJUSTMENT and PREMIUM FINISH - Light upward touch of spring-loaded locking handle allows the overbed table to be lowered and raised to any height between 28.5” – 40.5". Walnut wood-grained laminated top with flush-mounted T-molded edge design.

When choosing an overbed table, it’s important to consider both the patient and the caregiver in the purchase and select one that can be used with ease for both. This table is 27.5” at its lowest posint and 39.5” at its highest. With a slight push of a lever on one side, the table will lower and rise with no set increments which allows you to adjust it to the exact height you’d like. It’s easy to set up, sturdy, yet also lightweight.

2. The option for small spaces: Hadulcet Sofa Side Table

This is an excellent multipurpose, thoughtfully designed option specifically for those that live in small spaces. The top of this table folds out to create an even bigger surface area when desired, and there’s also a little basket on the bottom of the c-shaped table that provides some extra storage. This is also an aethetically pleasing option with a laminate wood grain top and a white metal base.

3. The multipurpose option: JACENTHOME Home Office Desk

JACENTHOME Home Office Desk 31x16'' Moveable Height Adjustable Creative PC Notebook Standing Laptop Cart End Side Table with Wheels for Study Room Bedroom Living Room
  • JACENTHOME Home Office Desk is made out of Eco-friendly high density fiberboard with unifies rigid metal, resulting in a unique display of delicate charm, additional storage shelves will help organize your working space at home or office
  • 2 storage shelves under the desktop, you can place your favorite books, plants, decorations on it for easy reach, the wheels let you easily move to where you want to place the home office table, you also can fix the wheels to prevent moving

This overbed table and rolling storage cart combination is a great option for those in a small space or who want an option that serves multiple purposes. In addition to the overbed table function, there are also two storage shelves at the base of the item which can be great to keep things off of the tabletop but still nearby. This is an overbed table on wheels, with the option to take them off if you’d like to use it as a standalone desk in the future.

4. The tilt top, budget option: Vaunn Tilt Top overbed Table

Vaunn Tilt Top overbed Table, 1 Count (Pack of 1), Brown Matte
  • HOSPITAL OR HOME USE - Top selling tilt overbed bedside table recommended by doctors for hospital or home use.
  • HEIGHT ADJUSTABLE - Simply and easy to use height adjustment feature - Table top can be raised between 29 - 41 inches for increased maneuverability.

This is a basic tilt top overbed table on wheels at an excellent price. While it’s nothing fancy, it’s functional, adjustable, sturdy, fairly inexpensive, and has over 2k reviews on Amazon with an overall rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars.

5. The non tilt top, budget option: Drive Medical 13067 Non Tilt Top Overbed Table

Drive Medical 13067 Non Tilt Top Overbed Table with Wheels, BedSide Table, Adjustable Overbed Rolling Table, Adjustable Standing Desk or Hospital Tray Table with Secure Height Adjustment, Silver Vein
  • Secure and Stable: This standing desk has a walnut, wood grain low-pressure laminate top that can be raised with the slightest upward pressure and locks securely when height adjustment handle is released
  • Easy Maneuverability: H-style base with 2-inch swivel casters provides stability and allows the portable table to be easily moved

Similar to the option above (although this one doesn’t have a tilt top), this is a basic overbed table on wheels at an excellent price. While it’s nothing fancy, it’s functional, adjustable, sturdy, fairly inexpensive, and has over 15k reviews on Amazon with an overall rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

6. The aesthetic, all white or all black option: FLEXISPOT Medical Adjustable Overbed Bedside Table with Wheels

FLEXISPOT Medical Adjustable Overbed Bedside Table with Wheels Pneumatic Mobile Standing Desk Laptop Desk Rolling Computer Cart Movable Overbed Table Hospital Home Use(27.6" W x 15.7" D, White)
  • Gas Spring Pneumatic Lift System : The overbed table built-in gas spring offers smooth one-hand height adjustment from 26" to 41.7". No need to bend down or use force to adjust the height. With pneumatic lifting, it's easy to adjust with one hand.
  • Easy to move around & space-saving: Flexispot standing desk overbed table is equipped with 4 hidden casters to easily maneuver it anywhere you like. It’s an ideal portable workstation for any home or office! A low-profile base with smooth rolling wheels eases and tuck beneath furniture minimum 1.2" high to save space.

This option is great as it comes in two different size options – the smaller version of this table is $100 and the larger version is $150. Both of these overbed tables on wheels come in both an all black or all white option, making them sleeker than some others on the market.

7. The double sided option: TigerDad Overbed Table with Wheels

Overbed Table with Wheels Overbed Desk Over Bed Desk King Queen Bed Table Overbed Laptop Table Over Bed Table with Wheels(Black)
  • Length and Height Adjustable:Fit beds of different size,queen size bed table,king overbed table.
  • Multifunctional:It is an adjustable overbed table, but also can be use as an mobile computer table.

If you prefer an option that touches the ground on both sides to provide the maximum amount of surface area and overall sturdiness, this table is worth a look! This option is great for someone that wants to push the table to the end of the bed while sleeping and then pull it back up when awake, rather than swing the overbed table out to the side when not in use. Again, the advantages of this table are a larger surface space, and a sturdier overall surface. Some find that it takes up less space as it lives above the bed rather than on open floor space, so while it’s the largest option, it can work well for those in smaller spaces.

Alternatively, if you’ve decided these options are too bulky and you’d ultimately prefer a lap desk, here is our favorite option. This lap desk is $36 and weighs 7 pounds. It is fully adjustable in the legs, has the option to tilt part of the top, includes a small drawer, and comes in a beautiful light natural wood finish.

Another potential solution for increased surface area while in bed could be a portable lap desk with a pillow back that sits directly on your lap. This is our favorite, and it is a good option for someone that wants something lightweight and exceptionally easy to move around. Another benefit is the fact that no assembly is required with this $50 option. The overall surface area will be quite a bit smaller than a traditional lap desk or overbed table, but its smaller overall size does have the benefit of being easy to store!

Overbed Table FAQs

What Is the Use of an Overbed Table?

An overbed table is exactly what it sounds like. It is simply a c-shaped table with long legs positioned in a way where the table can be wheeled directly over a person sitting or laying in a bed, providing an accessible yet mobile surface. This type of table can be useful for people who may be bed-bound temporarily or permanently, as it’s a convenient way to provide a usable surface for a wide range of activities such as writing, eating, etc.

What Should Not Be Placed on an Over Bed Table?

One should not place any heavy objects on an overbed table. Additionally, placing any hot liquids on it could be dangerous as there’s always the risk of it spilling. An overbed table shouldn’t be used as a support, or to lean into, as this could lead to a fall and/or injury.

How should I clean my overbed table?

As an overbed table is often a highly touched surface, it is important to keep it clean. Wiping it down on a regular basis with a multi-purpose surface cleaner will ensure it remains in clean, usable condition at all times.

What Can I Use an Overbed Table for Once Fully Recovered?

There are many long-term uses for an overbed table. Here are some potential options for you to consider:

1) Workstation: An overbed table can be used as a workstation for your laptop or computer. It can be a convenient way to work from home, in addition to using it for leisure activities such as drawing, working on puzzles, reading, sewing, scrapbooking, etc. 

2) Dining Table: If your space is limited, an overbed table can be a great alternative to a dining table. It can allow you to enjoy your meals while sitting on a chair or in bed, and is a convenient option for those that live in small spaces. 

3) Entertainment center: An overbed table is a useful place to put a small television, gaming console, or other entertainment devices such as a laptop or tablet. Having a sturdy surface for these fragile items can be helpful when playing games or watching your favorite shows or movies from the comfort of a bed or chair. 

4) Storage: An overbed table with drawers or shelves can be used for storage purposes, as mentioned earlier in this post. The shelves provide a practical place for books, snacks, beverages, and other items you may want nearby while in bed.  

Final Considerations

An overbed table is a practical, convenient solution for many, and the wide range of available options makes it easy to find one that will fit your space and suit your needs. The benefits of an overbed table include increased independence, ease, and convenience while spending time in bed. 

While the primary use of overbed tables is to provide a convenient surface for people to use while in bed, there are several other uses for overbed tables. In addition to providing bedside support, an overbed table can be used for many other activities such as a writing or drawing surface, a laptop desk, a craft table, or a snack table.


Leona Small is a freelance writer and former caregiver. She has experience working with people who have Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, and has worked in hospice.

Her passions include writing about healthy aging, finding resources to help older adults and caregivers, and traveling.

She has written for various publications, including fiction stories and the Wall Street Journal. Now, she is a freelancer who enjoys writing about a variety of interesting topics.

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