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We hope you have never had the sinking feeling of looking at your glass conference table or glass dining table and discovering a chip in the edge or scratch in the surface. Unfortunately, once a chip or scratch has occurred, there's usually no way to repair it. In most cases your options are to conceal the scratch or replace the glass.

That's why it's important to protect your glass table and avoid chips or scratches in the first place. For the most part, this is simply common sense. Avoid roughhousing near the table, or dropping heavy or sharp objects on the glass top. If you have small children in your home, consider padding the edges of the table with foam. This will protect both the table and your children! You can always remove the padding when you have guests.

If you have to move a large object on the glass top, for instance a laser printer or desktop computer sitting on a glass desk, lift and carry it rather than dragging or pushing it across the surface. If this is impossible -- for example it is a home office, you live alone and it's just too darn heavy -- place the heavy object on a sturdy cloth and pull the cloth. Never allow a heavy or sharp object to scrape across the surface of the glass.

If you have objects with sharp edges which you need to place on your glass table, place them on a cloth rather than directly on the glass. If this happens often, for instance a family dining table where you do kitchen prep work or set kitchen tools, make sure there is always a cloth or pad on the table. You can use a table runner or placemats to incorporate the protective cloth into your room decor.

Your chair selection matters as well. Metal backed chairs can easily chip the edge of a glass table top if they are not properly padded. Before you buy those sophisticated metal chairs to go with your glass table, imagine a rushed conference where people jump up from the table and push their chairs out of the way in a hurry. Or imagine tripping in your dining room and shoving a chair back against the edge of the table. Make sure all parts of the chair which come in contact with the table top are padded. (Any other metal furniture that moves -- a wheeled coffee stand or file cart, etc -- should also be padded or kept well away from the edge of a glass table.)

The steps above will go a long way towards protecting your glass table. If you do end up with a minor chip or scratch in your table, you can sometimes turn or move the table so the light does not catch the scratch and it isn't as noticeable. If the damage is too severe for that, well, there's always strategically placed coasters and potted plants.