Live edge coffee tables have become a popular furniture choice for adding natural beauty and rustic character to modern decor. While wood is the most common material for live edge tables, acrylic can also be used for striking effects.
Acrylic brings a sleek, contemporary element while still showcasing the raw, organic edges of the wood slab.
When paired with the right decor, an acrylic live-edge coffee table can be the perfect focal point in a room. Acrylic offers endless possibilities for customized designs, colors and artistic details that take these tables to the next level.
Learning how to properly use acrylic in a live edge coffee table will allow you to create a truly one-of-a-kind furniture piece.
Selecting the Wood Slab
The first step is choosing the right wood slab for your live edge acrylic coffee table. Shop for slabs with beautiful, natural edges that will be the star of the show.
Interesting bark patterns, knots, cracks and imperfections add character. Popular wood choices like walnut, maple and oak have gorgeous grain to highlight.
Examine thickness, shape and proportions to ensure the slab will work well as a coffee table once complete. Aim for at least 2” thick so the piece has solid weight and presence. Make sure the shape and size of the slab suit your space. The live edges should have great features to display.
Once you select the perfect slab, purchase it unfinished. Do not apply stain, sealers or epoxy before beginning the acrylic portion. The raw wood will enable the best adhesion.
Designing the Acrylic Base
After choosing your slab, decide on the acrylic base design. Measure the underside of the wood piece and create drawings mapping out the shape and dimensions of the base. Consider:
- T-shaped: Provides stability while leaving the lovely live edges open. The acrylic forms a T that is centered on the slab bottom.
- L-shaped: Acrylic extends in an L shape under 2 adjoining edges, leaving the other sides free.
- Full underside coverage: Acrylic is applied to the entire bottom surface for maximum support. Edges are still visible from the sides.
Sketch designs to visualize how the acrylic base will look. This also helps plan out details like:
- Listing measurements for cutting the acrylic
- Mapping where to place adhesive
- Adding decorative elements like LED lighting
Selecting and Cutting the Acrylic
Once you’ve designed the base, purchase the acrylic. Consider thickness between .5” – .75” to give ample structure. Acrylic comes in different tints and colors, so select a hue that complements your slab. Clear acrylic has a sleek, modern look. Black, white or colored acrylic can add striking contrast.
Use a table saw with a fine tooth blade to cut the acrylic to your specifications. Work slowly to ensure clean, precise cuts. Sand any rough edges smooth. Be sure to work in a well-ventilated area and wear proper safety gear when cutting.
Joining the Wood Slab and Acrylic
With both pieces cut to size, you’re ready to attach the acrylic base. This requires using a strong epoxy adhesive formulated for acrylic. Thoroughly clean and sand the joining surfaces on both wood and acrylic to prep the pieces.
Apply a thin, even layer of epoxy adhesive to the acrylic and/or wood surface. Carefully align the pieces and press them together firmly. Use clamps or a heavy object to weigh them down while the epoxy cures fully. Avoid moving the piece so the epoxy bond sets properly.
Let the epoxy cure for the full recommended time, usually 24 hours. The pieces should now be firmly joined together.
Adding Decorative Details
One benefit of acrylic is the limitless possibilities for enhancing the base with decorative details. Consider features like:
- LED lights – Install color-changing LED strip lighting around the interior edges of the base to create a fun glow effect. Use acrylic glue to adhere.
- Paint or vinyl designs – Stencil or apply painter’s tape to add patterns, shapes or colors to the acrylic base. You can also apply vinyl cut outs.
- 3D elements – For an artistic accent, attach decorative objects inside the acrylic like seashells, dried flowers or pennies using clear acrylic glue.
- Photos or prints – For a personal touch, place photos, kids’ artwork or other printed elements between the wood slab and acrylic using adhesive foam spacers so the items show through the clear acrylic.
Let your creativity run wild to make the acrylic base a true masterpiece!
Applying the Finish
Once the epoxy is fully cured and any acrylic decorations added, the coffee table can be finished.
First, use an orbital sander with fine-grit sandpaper (at least 220 grit) to lightly sand the wood slab. Make sure the surface is smooth and remove any dried epoxy residue. Finish sanding by hand, rubbing in the direction of the wood grain.
Thoroughly wipe away all dust with a tack cloth. Apply your choice of sealant, such as polyurethane, using a lint-free cloth. Allow to fully dry between coats, adding up to 3 thin coats for best protection.
For the acrylic base, wet sand using 600 grit sandpaper and water to prep the surface. Rinse and dry with a microfiber cloth. Finish with a gentle acrylic polish and buff out until clear, shiny and spotless.
Using and Caring for an Acrylic Live Edge Table
Your unique live edge coffee table is now ready to use and enjoy! Position it in an area with consistent, moderate temperature and humidity levels. Avoid placing directly next to heating/cooling vents or in damp rooms.
Use a coaster under all glasses and mugs to prevent moisture damage and stains. Wipe up spills immediately with a dry cloth. To clean, use a soft cloth with mild soap and water to gently wash the wood slab and acrylic base as needed. Avoid harsh cleaners.
Re-apply protective sealant to the wood annually. For the acrylic base, polish out any scratches and re-apply polish to restore the clear shine.
With proper care, an acrylic live edge coffee table will last for many years as a stunning focal point! Let the natural wood and sleek acrylic create a beautiful blend perfect for a modern farmhouse, industrial loft, or contemporary or eclectic space.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What types of wood work best for acrylic live edge tables?
Walnut, maple, oak, eucalyptus and ash all pair beautifully with acrylic. Look for woods with pronounced grain patterns and live edges.
2. Does acrylic come in different colors?
Yes! Clear acrylic has a clean, modern look. Or choose colored, tinted or frosted acrylic for bold pops of color. Black and white are popular options.
3. Can I put hot items on an acrylic coffee table?
Avoid placing extremely hot items like pots and pans directly on the acrylic, as excessive heat can cause damage over time. Use trivets or hot pads.
4. How do I clean an acrylic live edge coffee table?
Use a soft, lint-free cloth with mild soap and water to gently wipe the slab and acrylic clean as needed. Avoid harsh chemicals.
5. How thick should the acrylic be for a coffee table base?
An acrylic thickness between .5” – .75” provides a good balance of structural support while allowing light to pass through.
4 Amazing Acrylic Live Edge Table Ideas
1. River-Style Table
Use blue, green and clear tinted acrylic arranged in a “river” design flowing down the center of the base. Add mini LED lights along the “river banks” for a twinkling effect.
2. Pet Memorial Table
Include custom photos of a beloved pet within the clear acrylic base for a heartfelt memorial piece.
3. Message Coffee Table
Laser etch a meaningful quote or message into the frosted acrylic base for a personal touch.
4. Playful Penny Table
Fill the acrylic underside with colorful pennies, marbles or game pieces for a fun, quirky table.
Creating a live edge coffee table with acrylic offers endless possibilities for customized, artistic designs. Follow these steps:
- Select the wood slab with beautiful live edges
- Design the acrylic base to complement the slab
- Cut the acrylic and wood to size
- Join using strong epoxy adhesive
- Add LED lights, prints or other decorations
- Apply a protective finish to the wood and polish acrylic
- Enjoy your stunning creation!
Acrylic gives live edge tables a modern flair while still showing off the wood’s organic shapes. With the right design, you can create functional art for your home decor.
Let your creativity shine by making an acrylic live edge coffee table uniquely yours. This fusion of natural and contemporary materials will certainly become a conversation piece.
Featured Image: istockphoto.com