What Type of Glass is Used for Coffee Tables?

Coffee tables are a pretty much essential piece of furniture – after all, where would you put your coffee mug down without one? You can’t just rest it on your sofa, after all!

They’re often made out of wood – it has a reliable, traditional aesthetic, and is durable and versatile. However, if you’re after a more modern look for your living room, you might well prefer the look of a glass coffee table. They’re a much different vibe to a wooden coffee table, and might be a great addition to your room!

However, you might be wondering – exactly what glass is the right glass for a coffee table? Well, this article will tell you just what you need to know!

What type of glass is used for coffee tables

Tempered Glass

When it comes to choosing a glass type for your coffee table, there’s really only one good choice – tempered glass. It’s a durable and safe type of glass that can easily deal with life as a piece of furniture – and if it does break, it does so in a much safer way than other types of glass.

Tempered glass is a special type of safety glass that’s great for use in furniture – it makes a tough and reliable flat surface that’s got the beautiful transparency of glass, but is far more durable and resistant. It’s especially good for coffee tables because of this – if you don’t fancy the look of wood.

For example, then a tempered glass coffee table cna give you a nice modern look that’s clean, minimalist, and – most importantly – will resist daily life well.

Unlike wood, tempered glass is extremely wipe-clean – you literally never have to worry about staining it, as you can remove practically any spills with a damp cloth, and some cleaning spray if necessary – even if they’re dried, caked on, and require a bit of elbow grease too!

It’s used not just in coffee tables, but in many other things too. In the home and office desk surfaces are often made using tempered glass. Many desktop computers now come with tempered glass side panels to show off the components inside – and of course, the internal lighting that many computers now have!

It’s also used in oven doors, cookware, plates, tables of all sorts, shower doors – it’s likely that you’ll have at least one thing around the house that’s made from tempered glass!

However, the home and office aren’t the only place you’ll find tempered glass. It’s used in the windscreen and windows of every automobile and vehicle, for instance, due to its safety compared to other types of glass. It’s also used in bullet resistant glass, which can have obvious life protecting applications.

However, you may also have some in your pocket – mobile phone screens and screen protectors are often made with tempered glass too!

The uses for tempered glass are extremely varied, and it’s in common use everywhere – if you can think of a need for a hard flat surface that you can see through, then chances are somebody makes one out of tempered glass somewhere.

Why is Tempered Glass so Great?

Tempered glass is great for two reasons. The first is that, as types of glass go, it’s very strong. Due to the way tempered glass is made, it has an amazing amount of strength – it can be very hard to break tempered glass if you don’t know how.

You can often repeatedly strike a piece of tempered glass and it will resist breaking despite a remarkable amount of abuse – however, it’s of course not wise to actively try to break a sheet of glass, even if it is safety glass!

This strength makes it perfect for use in windscreens – it won’t break easily, which is essential when travelling at any speed. It also obviously means that it’s a great type of glass for use in the home – as long as you’re not drastically abusing it, tempered glass can easily stand up to normal everyday use as a table or desk.

The other thing about tempered glass that makes it great for use in the home, the office, the car, and so on – is that it doesn’t break like a lot of other types of glass. Instead of creating large shards, it instead breaks into thousands of much smaller pieces in an instant.

This is much safer, as these shards, while still sharp enough to cut, aren’t big enough to act like spikes or knives – non tempered glass can be lethal when it breaks! Tempered glass breaks into tiny pieces that are much easier to deal with.

In certain applications, such as windscreens, it’s often laminated too – sandwiched between and adhered to two transparent plastic sheets that hold it together even if it breaks, providing extra safety for drivers.

Why is Tempered Glass so Strong?

The reasons for the strength of tempered glass, and the safer way that it breaks, are due to the way that it’s made. The outside surface of the glass is under a lot of compression – it’s constantly pressing inwards. However, the inside of the glass is under a lot of tension – it’s as if it’s constantly being pulled apart.

These combining forces make the glass extremely resilient – but once breaks, it instantly shatters, with all of the energy that’s holding the glass together being released at once. All it takes is one single weakness in the glass for this to happen – but it can be hard for this weakness to manifest, as the glass is so tough.

Once that critical bit of weakness occurs, however – it’s game over for the sheet of tempered glass in the blink of an eye.

This combination of differing layers under both compression and tension is usually done in one of two different ways.

Firstly, the cooling rate of the glass can be adjusted so that the outside of the glass cools and sets more quickly than the inside. This puts the outside of the glass in compression, pushing on the inner area of the glass, which ends up under tension.

Or, it’s done chemically – with a chemical solution essentially hardening the outside of the glass while it cools, before the inside has had a chance to harden – giving much the same effect.

Whichever method is used, when the process is complete – you’re left with a tough, resilient piece of safety glass, perfect for use in a coffee table – or maybe a car!

Can Tempered Glass break?

Unfortunately, yes – while it’s extremely tough, and used in all sorts of demanding applications, tempered glass can still be broken. It can be extremely tough to break – but under the right (or, perhaps, wrong) circumstances, it will shatter into thousands of pieces with barely any effort at all.

In many kits sold for cars to help with roadside emergencies, there’s often a tool for breaking car windows, in order to save someone’s life who may be trapped. These innocuous seeming tools will enable you to break through tempered glass with ease, and could be vital for helping somebody in an emergency – so it’s actually pretty great news that it’s possible to break tempered glass!

These tools can do this because they have a ceramic tip – which is hard enough that it can easily chip the tempered glass – and a small chip is pretty much all that’s needed to destroy the whole thing.

For this reason, if you’re ever carrying or moving anything made out of tempered glass, keep it far away from ceramic tiles. Don’t consider even resting a piece of tempered glass on the floor – it’s extremely easy to destroy the glass this way, with even the very slightest knock on the ceramic tile – and you don’t get either a warning or a second chance.


Tempered glass – the perfect choice for your glass coffee table. It’s tough and reliable – and extremely easy to keep clean! If you want a more modern look for your living room, a coffee table made out of tempered glass could be a great choice.

Just make sure to keep it away from any tiled floors, or you’ll be doing a lot of sweeping!