Do Acrylic Coffee Tables Scratch Easily?

Acrylic coffee tables are a popular choice for many homes due to their modern, sleek look and relatively affordable price point. However, one downside of acrylic is that it can scratch fairly easily compared to …

scratches on acrylic coffee table

Acrylic coffee tables are a popular choice for many homes due to their modern, sleek look and relatively affordable price point. However, one downside of acrylic is that it can scratch fairly easily compared to materials like wood, metal or glass.

So if you’re considering an acrylic coffee table, it’s understandable that you may be wondering – do acrylic coffee tables scratch easily?

What is Acrylic?

First, let’s cover the basics. Acrylic is a type of plastic that is used to make many household items like furniture, windows, appliances and more. Some key facts about acrylic:

  • Acrylic is affordable and easy to manufacture, making it a budget-friendly material.
  • It has a crystal clear, glass-like appearance when polished but is less prone to shattering than real glass.
  • Acrylic can be molded into diverse shapes and forms. This allows acrylic furniture manufacturers to create stylish, contemporary designs.
  • It is half the weight of glass, making acrylic furniture lighter and easier to move.
  • Acrylic naturally has some flexibility and cushioning, so acrylic furniture provides a little “give” when sat on.

So in summary, acrylic offers the transparent, sleek look of glass for less cost without the risk of dangerous shattering. This combination of aesthetics, affordability and safety makes it very popular for modern furniture pieces like coffee tables.

See also: 11 Best Acrylic Coffee Tables for a Modern Look in 2023

Is Acrylic Prone to Scratching?

Now, on to the key question – is acrylic easily scratched? The short answer is yes. Acrylic has a softer surface than materials like glass, wood and metal. This means it’s more vulnerable to scuffs, scratches and abrasions.

There are a few reasons why acrylic coffee tables scratch fairly easily:

  • Soft surface. The acrylic plastic has a softer, more malleable surface than say, tempered glass. This makes it more prone to scuffing.
  • Finish. Most acrylic coffee tables have a glossy polished finish. This finishing process makes scuffs and scratches much more visible.
  • Everyday wear and tear. Coffee tables get a lot of use and abuse. Glasses, electronics, books and other hard, sharp objects often get set on the surface. This daily wear and tear takes a toll on acrylic.
  • Moving. Dragging acrylic furniture across floors creates scratches. And acrylic’s light weight makes it easy to unconsciously “slide” the table versus lifting it when moving.
  • Cleaning. Using harsh cleaners or abrasive pads/brushes can scratch acrylic during cleaning. Chemicals can even damage the acrylic over time.

So acrylic coffee tables do need some extra care and maintenance to stay looking pristine. But that doesn’t mean they are excessively delicate or scratch the first time they are used.

Tips to Prevent Scratches on Acrylic Coffee Tables

Acrylic can scratch, but there are preventative steps you can take to keep your acrylic coffee table damage-free:

  • Use tablecloths and placemats to create a layer of protection between the acrylic surface and objects placed on it.
  • Avoid abrasive cleaners or pads. Use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth with mild soap and water instead.
  • Lift furniture instead of dragging. Lifting prevents the legs from scraping along the floor.
  • Use felt pads on the feet. These cushions the table when it’s moved across hard floors.
  • Keep the surface clean. Dust and dirt that builds up can cause scratches when wiped.
  • Be aware of sharp edges. Don’t slide sharp or hard objects (keys, knives, etc) across the surface.
  • Avoid exposure to heat or direct sun, which can cause cracking or yellowing over time.
  • Apply a scratch-resistant spray. These protective top coat sprays add a barrier against scratches.
  • Wax occasionally. Using a plastic polishing wax fills in tiny scratches and creates a scratch-resistant coating.

With proper care, an acrylic coffee table can stay looking pristine for years. The preventative steps above help minimize everyday wear, so scratches happen rarely rather than frequently.

How to Fix Scratches on Acrylic Furniture

But what happens if your acrylic coffee table does get a scratch or scuff? Luckily there are ways to remove and repair scratches to make it look good as new again. Here are some DIY methods to fix acrylic scratches:

Light Scratches

For minor surface scuffs, these DIY methods can greatly reduce or remove them:

  • Polish out with plastic polish. Use a liquid or cream plastic polish (like PlastX) designed specifically for acrylic. Rub it into the scratches using a microfiber cloth. The polish fills in and buffs out light scuffs.
  • Try toothpaste. Apply a small dot of regular toothpaste to a soft cloth. Gently rub it into the scratch using circular motions. Then wipe clean. The abrasives in toothpaste can work wonders on minor scratches.
  • Use baking soda. Make a paste with baking soda and water. Lightly buff the scratch with the paste using a soft cloth. Rinse and wipe dry. Baking soda is a very mild abrasive.
  • Spray furniture polish. The standard wood polish contains silicone oils that can help “fill in” minor acrylic scratches. Spray on and wipe off with a cloth.
  • DIY scratch remover. Mix equal parts white vinegar and olive oil. Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and dab it into scratches. Buff lightly.

Deeper Scratches

If the scratches are deeper, you may need to sand and buff out the damages:

  • Start by cleaning out the scratch. Use a razor blade, knife tip or fine sandpaper to remove any dust or debris inside the scratch.
  • Sand the scratch smooth using very fine (1000+ grit) sandpaper. Sand in long strokes in the direction of the scratch.
  • Buff out the sanded area using plastic polish and a buffing pad or microfiber cloth. Rub the polish in until the scratch disappears.
  • Finish by applying a liquid plastic sealer like PlastX Clear Plastic Polish & Sealer. This fills in micro-abrasions and protects the surface.
  • Color sand if the scratches are deep enough to expose the white acrylic underlayer. Use ultra-fine grit sandpaper and resand with clear acrylic particles.
  • Wet sanding is a good technique for deeper scratches. Use water to lubricate the sanding process. Start with 600-grit sandpaper, working up to 1000+ grit.

Preventing Future Scratches

Once your acrylic coffee table is restored to a smooth, polished finish, be sure to take measures to prevent new scratches:

  • Apply scratch-resistant spray
  • Use table linens
  • Handle the table with care
  • Clean gently and frequently

When to Call in a Professional

While DIY methods can fix minor to moderate scratches, deep gouges may require a professional resurfacing job. Signs it’s time to call in an expert include:

  • Deep scratches exposing white base color. The plastic is scratched through multiple layers.
  • Many surface scratches. Suppose the entire surface is covered in fine abrasions and scuffs. Overall professional buffing may be needed.
  • Visible seam or bubbles. Deep scratches can damage seams and need professional resealing.
  • Cracks or gouges. Deep impacts that cause cracks require expert repair.

Look for companies that specialize in acrylic scratch removal and furniture restoration. They have commercial-grade buffing tools to resurface damages. This is faster but more costly than DIY methods.

Acrylic vs Glass – Which Scratches More Easily?

How does acrylic compare to glass when it comes to scratch resistance? Here is the rundown:

  • Glass is harder. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, glass is around 5.5 versus acrylic, which is 3. This makes the glass more scratch resistant.
  • Acrylic is more shatterproof. Glass breaks and shatters more violently. Acrylic cracks rather than sharp breaking.
  • Acrylic scratches show. Minor scratches are way more visible on acrylic than on glass due to the glossy finish.
  • Glass needs tempering. For use in furniture, glass is tempered for safety which makes it extra scratch resistant.
  • Acrylic can be buffed and restored. Scratches can be removed from acrylic by polishing and buffing. Glass scratches are permanent.
  • Glass costs more. Due to production methods, glass costs over 50% more than acrylic.

So glass has the advantage of scratch resistance. But acrylic is impact-resistant, and scratches can be buffed out. For cost-effectiveness, acrylic works well for most applications. Going with glass may make sense for frequently used surfaces.

Acrylic Coffee Table Alternatives

If you like the look of acrylic but want something more scratch resistant, some alternatives to consider include:

  • Glass – Very durable and scratch resistant but heavier and prone to shattering.
  • Wood – Natural material that can be refinished but is vulnerable to water damage.
  • Metal – Stainless steel or powder-coated metal is very scratch resistant. It may show fingerprints.
  • Stone – Materials like granite and marble are scratch-proof but very heavy. Vulnerable to stains.
  • Lacquered finishes – Wood furnishings with polyurethane or lacquer coats add scratch protection.

No material is 100% scratch-proof, but glass, metal, and stone will show less daily wear than softer acrylic. However, weighed against their downsides – cost, weight, staining, etc.

Acrylic Coffee Table Care Tips

To keep acrylic looking its best for as long as possible:

  • Dust frequently with a microfiber cloth. Built-up dust causes scratches.
  • Never use harsh cleaners or abrasive pads. Mild soap and water work best.
  • Rinse with clean water after cleaning. Chemicals and soap residue can damage the finish.
  • Avoid placing very hot items directly on the surface. Use a trivet.
  • Lift furniture carefully instead of sliding to prevent leg scratches.
  • Apply a plastic sealer polish regularly to protect the finish.
  • Use tablecloths and placemats to prevent daily surface scratches.
  • Immediately clean spills, don’t let the liquid sit.
  • Check manufacturer instructions – some acrylics have specific care guidelines.

Conclusion

Acrylic coffee tables scratch fairly easily compared to other materials. But taking measures to prevent scratches, along with properly caring for the surface, allows acrylic to stay looking pristine for long periods. For light scuffs that do occur, DIY methods often work well for repair. Plus, unlike glass which permanently shows scratches, acrylic’s glossy finish can be restored through sanding and buffing. So acrylic is still a great choice for stylish, affordable coffee tables as long as you take care to prevent scratches and properly maintain the finish.

Featured Image: istockphoto.com

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