Coffee tables are essential pieces of furniture in most living rooms. They provide a surface for setting drinks, books, remotes, and more while gathered around the sofa. With frequent use (and abuse), coffee tables need to withstand wear and tear.
When choosing a coffee table, durability is a key consideration. Acrylic has grown in popularity as a coffee table material. But is acrylic actually durable for a coffee table? Let’s dig into the pros and cons of acrylic coffee tables.
Acrylic Coffee Table Basics
Before assessing acrylic’s durability, let’s get familiar with acrylic itself.
Acrylic is a plastic material made from acrylic acid mixed with methacrylic acid. It goes by many names including Plexiglas, Lucite, Perspex, and PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate).
Acrylic can be produced in rigid sheets and molded into shapes. It has a glass-like appearance but is less fragile. Acrylic tables often feature clean, contemporary designs.
Benefits of acrylic coffee tables:
- Visually appealing – Transparent and glossy-like glass. Can showcase objects underneath.
- Lightweight – Weighs half as much as glass. Easier to move.
- Warm to the touch – It doesn’t feel cold like metal or stone.
- Easy to clean – Resists dust and wipes clean.
- Stylish – Sleek, modern aesthetic. Fits many decor styles.
- Budget-friendly – More affordable than similar-looking glass tables.
Now let’s analyze how durable acrylic is for coffee table use. We’ll examine its scratch resistance, stain resistance, and resistance to cracking.
Coffee tables get dragged around on occasion. How well does acrylic hold up to incidental scratches from daily use?
- Acrylic is softer than glass. It scratches easier than glass.
- Light scratches can buff out, but deep scratches are permanent.
- Minor surface scratches tend to be less visible on acrylic than on glass.
- Acrylic can be topped with a scratch-resistant coating for added protection.
- Avoid using abrasive cleaners that could introduce fine scratches.
So acrylic is prone to scratching like other plastic materials. But minor scratches are generally less noticeable compared to glass. With reasonable care, acrylic likely won’t get severely scratched with normal coffee table use.
Coffee tables invariably deal with spills – from drinks, food, cosmetics, and more. How easily does acrylic stain?
- Acrylic has good resistance to stains. Most common drinks and foods can be wiped off easily.
- Oily substances tend to leave more residue if left to sit. But oil-based stains can still be removed with cleaning.
- Some very staining products like nail polish, permanent markers, and paint can permanently stain acrylic.
- Avoid harsh cleaners. Mild soap and water are adequate for most cleaning needs.
- Regular dusting and cleaning help prevent buildup.
While no material is 100% stain-proof, acrylic withstands typical household stains relatively well. Prompt cleanup of spills prevents most staining issues.
Resistance to Cracking
No one wants a coffee table that literally cracks under pressure. How prone to cracking is acrylic?
- Acrylic is flexible but still vulnerable to cracking from significant impacts.
- Edges and corners are most prone to cracking if bumped forcefully.
- Acrylic becomes more brittle in very cold temperatures, increasing the cracking risk.
- Acrylic withstands moderate impacts better than glass. But excessive weight can cause cracks.
- High-quality acrylic is more crack-resistant than lower-quality grades.
- Acrylic can potentially be repaired with special adhesives if cracked.
Acrylic isn’t invincible against cracking but fares better than glass or ceramic. With reasonable care, acrylic should resist typical cracks and dings. But serious trauma can compromise its structural integrity.
How to Care for an Acrylic Coffee Table
To maximize the durability of an acrylic coffee table:
- Use coasters under cups to prevent scratching and staining.
- Wipe up spills immediately with a soft, damp cloth. Avoid abrasive scrubbing.
- Clean regularly with a mild soap and water solution. Don’t use harsh cleaners.
- Inspect edges and underside for cracks. Apply clear adhesive to repair small cracks.
- Avoid placing excessively heavy objects on the table.
- Position carefully when moving to prevent bumps and scrapes.
- Consider adding padding or cushions underneath to absorb shock.
- Use a tablecloth for extra protection during rowdy game nights.
- Keep away from heat sources that could cause warping.
With proper care and maintenance, an acrylic coffee table can stay looking great for years.
Acrylic vs. Glass: Which Is More Durable?
How does acrylic compare to glass in terms of durability? Here’s a quick look:
- Acrylic scratches are easier than glass, but scratches are less visible.
- Acrylic withstands stains slightly better than glass.
- Acrylic is less prone to cracking than glass.
- Acrylic is warmer and more comfortable than cold glass.
- Glass is heavier and more difficult to move than lightweight acrylic.
- Glass costs significantly more than acrylic.
- Both materials require careful handling to prevent damage.
For most homes, acrylic matches or exceeds glass in durability while being more budget-friendly.
Is Acrylic Worth It for a Coffee Table?
At the end of the day, is acrylic a good choice? Here are the key considerations:
- Acrylic is reasonably durable for coffee table use with proper care. It resists scratches, stains, and cracks better than expected.
- Acrylic isn’t indestructible – excessive damage can still occur. But it holds up fine to normal wear and tear.
- Acrylic provides a sleek, stylish look at an affordable price point compared to glass.
- Acrylic is lighter than glass, making it easier to move and rearrange.
- For families with rambunctious kids or pets, glass or wood may be a more durable option.
- Consider an acrylic table with extra protection, like a coating or tablecloth, for added peace of mind.
For most households seeking an attractive, contemporary coffee table, acrylic is a great choice that will withstand several years of regular use. With some basic precautions, acrylic offers good durability and value. Bring on movie nights, board games, and late-night snacks! An acrylic coffee table can handle it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is acrylic weaker than glass?
Yes, acrylic is weaker and softer than glass. It scratches easier. But acrylic withstands cracking from impacts better than glass and shows scratches less.
2. Does acrylic yellow over time?
Acrylic itself does not yellow with age. But cheaper grades with poor UV resistance can get a yellowish tint over decades of sun exposure. High-quality acrylic resists yellowing.
3. Can you put hot things on acrylic tables?
Avoid placing very hot pots, pans, etc., directly on an acrylic table. The heat can potentially damage or warp the acrylic. Use trivets or hot pads.
4. Does acrylic feel cheap?
Not at all – acrylic has a luxurious, glass-like finish. It feels warmer and softer to the touch than actual glass. High-end acrylic has a premium, sophisticated aesthetic.
5. Is acrylic expensive?
Acrylic is much more affordable than glass. Expect to pay $100-500 for a quality acrylic coffee table, compared to $500+ for glass. So acrylic provides great value.
When shopping for a sleek, modern coffee table, don’t overlook the durability and value of acrylic. While no material is truly indestructible, acrylic withstands daily use well. With responsible care and maintenance, an acrylic coffee table can stay looking pristine and stylish for many years to come.
So when considering your options, buy acrylic with confidence. Acrylic delivers the gorgeous transparent look of glass without fragility. An acrylic coffee table is sure to be a durable, eye-catching focal point in your living room.
Featured Image: istockphoto.com