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Buying A Glass Coffee Table- Safety Factors You Should Consider

Updated on April 21, 2010

Glass coffee tables look fantastic bringing light and modernity to a room. However there are some very important safety considerations that should be taken into account when purchasing a glass coffee table, particularly for homes where there are small children or seniors living.

Many people assume that just because an item is for sale it must be safe. This is not necessarily the case, in fact many of the glass coffee tables on the market today have serious safety issues related to them.

In many parts of Europe there are strict controls over the use of glass in furniture. However this is not the case in the US which means that it is extremely important that purchasers are aware of potential hazards and take care to minimize them.

Tempered Vs Normal Glass

Glass coffee tables can use either tempered or normal glass in the US as there are no restrictions on what can be used. However, tempered glass is by far the safer option. Tempered glass is a kind of glass that has been treated so that if it shatters is disintigrates into small regular shaped pieces that will be very unlikely to cause injury. By contrast, regular glass will very often splinter into long razor sharp shards that can easily injure or even kill humans or animals. 

It can be very difficult to know just by looking whether an item of furniture is made from normal or tempered glass. This is why it is vitally important that you check before purchase which type of glass your item has been made with. It is also a good idea to ask for proof from a retailer where possible as many consumers report being told that an item was made with tempered glass only to discover later that it was actually constructed with regular glass. 


Glass Coffee Tables And Falls

Glass coffee tables, even those that do have tempered glass, are not completely indestructible. It is therefore very important that the purchaser of any new glass coffee table should take into account the likelihood of any member of their family having a fall. Obviously this is more likely in a family where there are small children, boisterous older children or seniors, as these groups experience falls more often. However, other groups such as young people who regularly consume large amounts of alcohol may also be at risk. The simple truth is that there is no group that is completely immune to the possibility of falls.

Other Safety Considerations

Many elderly people find that both their eyesight and their depth perception deteriorates as they age. This is also something that should be taken into account when considering the purchase of a glass coffee table. Putting a drink down suddenly onto a glass surface could be sufficient to shatter or chip it. Similarly, dropping items such as plates, drinks and other heavy items could cause the glass surface to be damaged. 

Many small children go through a phase where they like to hit one object with another, often with surprising force. In the case of a glass topped coffee table an impact from a Tonka Truck or other heavy toy could easily be sufficient to cause the table to smash. This is another reason why many people suggest that glass coffee tables are not safe for families with small children. 

Making Your Glass Coffee Table Safer

There are several products on the market that can help your coffee table to be safer if your heart is set on a glass coffee table. The first of these is safety film that can be applied to the glass. This helps to stop it from shattering and also helps to keep the glass together if it does shatter. It is often available at ToysRus or other sellers of child safety equipment.

Similarly corner caps and bumpers can be bought that can help prevent injury from sharp corners and edges of your table.

Another factor to consider is ensuring that loose items like the edges of rugs are not placed where someone could trip and fall onto the coffee table.

It is important, particularly in the case of small children to be very aware of what items are placed on the surface. A coffee table is the perfect height for toddlers to explore and whilst it may be designed to hold your coffee it is also a very easy way for your child to burn themselves. Similarly nuts, glassware, ornaments and other items should be cleared out of arms reach so that your child cannot reach them.


A glass coffee table can look beautiful and be an asset to any home, however it is important to follow all of the safety guidelines that are in this hub to ensure that you can enjoy your coffee table safely for many years to come.

Please see my coffee table buying guide to help you further in your choice of coffee table.

Follow these links for more coffee table ideas as well as more information on glass coffee tables.

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