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Should You Use Glass to Protect a Wood Table?

About a year ago we purchased a new wooden kitchen table. Upon its arrival, I noticed that it didn’t have a thick clear coat like tables I’ve owned previously. My children are SUPER messy when they eat, especially with their cereal for some reason, so that means we have a constant mess on our kitchen table. Naturally, I started looking for a way to protect our new wood table from the mess. I searched around the internet a bit to see if you should use glass to protect a wood table, but didn’t come up with much information. I decided it would be the best solution anyway, ordered a custom piece of glass, and regretted it since day one. After reading this, you may still decide a glass table protector is right for your situation. I’m just here to tell you some of the reasons you might not want to go that route.

Should You Use Glass to Protect a Wood Table?

So let’s get straight into the “should you use glass to protect a wood table?” question.

I’ll answer that question with some other questions: Would you want a mirror as your tabletop? What would cleaning and maintaining that be like? Well, I don’t know if it’s just because the wood on my table is dark, but that’s what it felt and looked like to me. The highly reflective surface with the dark background means it shows every fingerprint, every crumb, and every streak even after cleaning it. I’ve got four kids that are constantly touching the table and putting dishes on it, which means my pretty table looked like garbage 24/7.

Should You Use Glass to Protect a Wood Table?

The only way to get it really clean was to use window cleaner, and even then it was still streaky and ugly. Some of this is on the surface, but a lot of it is also trapped underneath the glass that I couldn’t even get to for cleaning.

Glass for table

When the glass company first brought the glass over, they brought some clear spacers to go underneath. The spacers are supposed to allow airflow under the glass so it doesn’t ruin the tabletop. Well, that just made the top look even uglier, and the kids kept spilling stuff that would slide under the glass. I thought taking the spacers out would help, but it didn’t at all. No matter what I did, the food, especially anything liquid, still got under the glass. That spot on the left where the spill goes all the way to the edge goes under the glass, and the spot below it is actually under the glass. This happened daily with my kids.

Should You Use Glass to Protect a Wood Table?

Those wet spots mean I had to slide the heavy glass, carefully lift it, and clean and dry under it any time there was a spill. It was seriously the biggest pain, and sounds way easier said than done!!! And even after all that, the edges still had a constant supply of crumbs that somehow managed to make their way UNDER the glass! How does this even happen?! There were no spacers being used when I took these photos!

Glass table protector.

What did I do about it?

So I finally decided about a month ago that I’d had enough of fighting with this thing, and I’d rather have a ruined table. I took the glass off and gave it away on marketplace. I put a clear coat of something on it that I actually don’t recommend, so I won’t tell you what it was. Even though the clear coat I put on it doesn’t make it look great, it still looks a million times better than that stupid piece of glass that I had on it for a year. It’s so much easier to clean! Now we are using place mats and the the spills actually wipe up much easier. It’s not a perfect solution, but better than the glass.

What should I have done instead?

Bought a different table! Seriously though, I wish I had done a little more research and gotten something that had a better clear coat on the top to begin with. If you’re already stuck with a table that doesn’t have that, try looking up finishes you can apply yourself. I think I probably should have gone with a coat of polyurethane or varnish instead, but I was too irritated to research any more options. Glass for the table should NOT have been something I considered with my messy kids, so maybe it would work if you don’t have kids?? …but then you probably wouldn’t need to protect your table anyway, so maybe it should just never be an option.

Have you tried glass on a wood table? Did you love it? Hate it? Think I’m crazy and my kids are slobs? One or both of those might be right. Anyway, leave a comment with your suggestions and maybe we can collectively come up with a solution to have a nice looking kitchen table with kids. I’d love some other options!

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Sunday 12th of March 2023

For glass tops to not get the yucky stuff under, you need to have an overhang of about 1-2 inches from the wood surface. I do this for the table in rental unit. I on the other hand since I love wood surfaces and I do take extra care and use table cloths and placemats for daily use I did not opt for a glass top.. The only time I let the wood show is when I have guests and well kids are almost grown.. youngest is 11 so maybe in a couple more years I can just do placemats.. But no you are not weird... I hate yucky looking surfaces and yes if no kids then all would be fine.. but I still wanted kids so had to sort of learn to live with the mess and try to manage it best I can.. LOL

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Tuesday 25th of April 2023

I'm am definitely learning to live with some of the mess with all of my kids. I put a wax coating on the top of the table, and it has surprisingly held up really well. No scratches, heat damage, or anything. The place mats are super gross, but I just take them off when company comes over.


Wednesday 18th of January 2023

I LOVE MY GLASS TABLE! 20 years ago we bought a beautiful wood table for our kitchen. With 5 young kids I knew it would quickly get ruined so I decided to have a custom piece of glass made to protect it. It was the best decision ever! I absolutely love it! I put a beautiful table cloth over the wood table that matches the valences in my kitchen perfectly. Then I put placemats on top of the table cloth. Then I put the glass over both the table cloth and placemats. It looks absolutely beautiful and decorative and is so easy to keep clean. When crumbs get under the glass, I just slide the glass and table cloth to one side and brush the crumbs out. Then I slide it to the other side and brush them out on the other side. I don’t even need to do this too often. Most times I can even just brush it out without moving the glass. As far as spills, when this happens, I lift the glass slightly and put a towel between the wood table and the table cloth until morning when it dries. This prevents the wood from getting ruined. If there is anything other than water that needs to be cleaned from under the glass, like milk, I just slide the glass slightly off the table and clean under the glass with windex. It’s very simple. The top of glass table itself is super easy to keep clean. I just spray it with windex. Every six months or more, two of us take the glass off the table (it is a large table for 8) and I lean it against the couch clean both sides with windex and put a new table cloth or rotate the table cloths because I always have an extra one in the linen closet. I love the combination of the linen with the placemats because it looks so decorative without having to wipe every placemat and put it through the wash every night which I hate doing. I also like that there are no gross food stains everywhere (especially with kids) because the glass prevents stains. I absolutely love my kitchen table with the table cloth placemats and glass!! It protects the wood, it’s looks beautiful and it’s very easy to keep clean. It was the best decision ever and I would do it again!!


Saturday 13th of May 2023


With the table cloth and placemats under the glass top, don't you have a problem with uneven surface under the glass top? I mean does the glass top sit well under placemats

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Wednesday 8th of March 2023

Oh, I'm glad you love yours! Maybe putting a tablecloth under makes a difference. I wanted to see the wood though. Luckily I think the wax coating I put on it is protecting it from my crazy kids pretty well. :)

Ava Porcelli

Tuesday 11th of October 2022

I actually feel relieved to have found your post, bc it lets me know I’m not crazy. The smudges, the liquid trapped beneath, windex(only to see more smudge marks after), and recently, Iv been able to add another issue to my list of “why not to pay (a ridiculous amount btw)for a custom glass top to be made for your KITCHEN table”. While lifting this heavy piece of glass with one arm and simultaneously trying to turn it and wipe underneath (which still never looked clean, and I could never reach the middle anyway bc my arms weren’t long enough) but the entire piece of glass cracked right down the middle! So now I have an ugly, dirty, grimy looking, cracked piece of glass that looks like I don’t clean, when in reality I spend every day in constant battle with it!

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Tuesday 18th of October 2022

Soooo frustrating! I'm so glad I got rid of mine, and my wood table hasn't gotten damaged from my kids at all.


Monday 11th of July 2022

We had an old laminate table for years (that we got used in graduate school). EVERYTHING came off of that table including sharpies that my toddler found. I thought we were all grown up when we replaced that old table with an expensive beautiful wooden table. I wish I had just kept the laminate table. Our wood is dotted with paint since it isn't a smooth surface and the stain is scratched off in multiple places. I was thinking a plastic cover after I refinish the table but maybe it is just a mute point and I should just learn to love a multi colored scratched table. Haha.

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Oh, that's so frustrating! Yes, I think we just have to get used to a ruined table when kids are involved. Haha!


Tuesday 10th of May 2022

I am so glad you wrote this. My dining table scratches so easily and already looks terrible in 18 months. I was researching glass table tops and am so glad I came across this post. It doesn’t feel worth it at all.

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Friday 20th of May 2022

It's not! Look around for a clear coat that you can put on it.

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