Along with affordability and a timeless style, stability and construction are important to look for when inspecting tables at furniture stores. Think about how it feels to sit at one of those tables, whether it will be comfortable for long periods, and examine floor models for signs of wear. Look for nicks and scratches that may indicate how the tables would endure through serious use at home.
A secondhand wood table with a farmhouse or industrial heritage has already passed the test of time. Any scratches and nicks in the tabletop surface have mellowed into design details, becoming features to admire.
Wood veneer is often a more affordable alternative to solid wood. Here a very thin layer of solid wood or material printed to look like wood is glued to a plywood or other wood core. To identify good veneer, look for tables with clearly-labeled core interiors, like kiln-dried hardwood. One way to spot cheaper veneers is to look underneath the table at the store.
First, marble tables of any kind are bulky and heavy. Second, they have to be well looked after, as the marble can crack and stain. To avoid stains, keep the table cleared and clean at all times, covering it with a tablecloth or placemats when red wine and foods that can damage marble are on the menu.