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The Case of the Coffee Table Glass Top

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Question about a Coffee Table Glass Top:

Hi Glass Detective,

Would you recommend a tempered glass top or a laminated glass top for a coffee table with very little underneath support?

Thank you,

Jim R.

Answer regarding a Coffee Table Glass Top:


Thank you for contacting the Glass Detective regarding your request for some help in determining what type of glass might be best for your coffee table. I’ll suggest that before you read the rest of what I am about to write that you find and read our discussion on the differences between tempered and laminated glass (if you haven’t done so already)…then finish reading the following:

It would have been good to get just a little more information on the table you are considering glass for. For instance, the size of the table and an exact detail of how the top is to be held in place would be quite helpful. If you read our commentary on tempered vs. laminated you should have concluded that there are drawbacks to each. So, you are probably thinking, when do I get my answer?

So here it is…laminated/tempered glass in combination is the product I would recommend as long as you can live with an edge finish which is good, but not perfect. Certainly not as perfect as a piece of tempered glass. The glass on my coffee table in my own home (about 36” x 48”) is ½” thick annealed float glass with a 1” beveled edge. I have had it for over twenty years and it looks great and has never given me any problems.

However, when I have worked near it or around it (painting, changing light bulbs or other home maintenance) I always cover it with a blanket so in the event I drop something on it, it most likely will not break. And if I fall on it, it will break but hopefully not kill me when it breaks into very sharp chunks. I also do not have children or any pets living in the house. If I were going to replace it, I would order low-iron ½” tempered glass with the same edge work. The use of the blanket as described above would still be practiced.

Lastly, I suggest you go to a reputable glass shop in your area with a picture of the table and ask to see edge samples of what’s available and then with the help of a knowledgeable glass person, make your decision.

Again, thank you for contacting the Glass Detective and we wish you good luck with your project.

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Lyle Hill

Lyle Hill has been in the glass and metal industry for more than 40 years. In this time he has managed glass retail, contract glazing, mirror, architectural window, window film, and automotive glass businesses throughout America. He obtained an MBA from IIT with a focus on Technology and Engineering Management. Hill is also a columnist for glass industry trade magazines and often called the “face” of the glass industry. He has also authored books including “The Broken Tomato and Other Business Parables,” which is available through Amazon. Find out more about Lyle on Linkedin.

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2 Responses

  1. Hello,

    I’d like to know what you think is the best high quality glass top for my custom coffee table.
    I am planning on using a 3/4” low iron glass top with a 1” bevel.
    Do you think I need to have the glass tempered?
    Also, can you tell me the price if a glass top with these dimensions, 3/4” thick, 1” bevel
    In regular glass or low iron glass. And if you recommend tempered, can you tell me what if any additional cost, if that’s a good idea.
    Thank you
    Kevin OBrien

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks for the question! You will absolutely want tempered glass for this tabletop. Tempered glass is considered a safety glass. It is much stronger than annealed glass, and if it breaks, it will shatter into tiny rounded pieces rather than shagged shards. Therefore, it is less likely to cause a severe injury. The price will depend on the overall size of the top and there you are located geographically. Please submit a query through and we will try to locate someone in your area in order to obtain a price quote.

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