A tablecloth is a great first step toward protecting your wood dining table. Vinyl tablecloths are great for everyday dining or for households with small children. Fabric tablecloths are often more attractive than vinyl, but linen, cotton or polyester blends alone are not heavy enough to protect tables from heat and spills. "Table pads are a worthwhile investment for valuable dining-room tables," says Martha Stewart, who recommends using a pad underneath a tablecloth to protect the table's surface.
Coffee and End Tables
Next to your dining room table, the wood tables in your home that take the most abuse are undoubtedly the coffee and end tables. Serving as impromptu dining tables, homework desks and game stations, coffee and end tables need special attention to prevent damage. Use felt or cork-backed coasters for drinks set on the table, and glue felt on the bottoms of lamps, candleholders or other decorative objects that have the potential to scratch the surface. Use trays with felt under them to hold remotes and other odds and ends that tend to collect on coffee and end tables.
Desks and Vanity Tables
The best way to protect wood desks and vanity tables is with glass or plexiglass cut to cover the tops. Glass or plexiglass tops protect desks from damage caused by inks, drinks and accessories, and they protect vanity tables from scratches and damage to the finish caused by cosmetics and hair sprays.