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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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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.


Friday 15th of April 2022

I too, have a large piece of glass for my table. All of you wrote IS ME and my table. I am 66 and have no kids and you cannot clean underneath. I will never do this again!. I am at my wits end looking at the foggy no longer clean underneath my table and I am one inch of breaking it to get it off my table.

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Thursday 21st of April 2022

Glad it wasn't just me, but sorry you are dealing with it. I am SOOOO happy that I took it off my table. I found someone on FB marketplace to take it. Just sorry I spent so much money on the dumb thing!


Saturday 26th of February 2022

Our table had a finish on it years ago. I'm not sure what it is. 8 years later with 3 kids using it for eatinng, school works, arts, crafts, and other misc uses, it is scratched, stained, and scarred. It looks awful from a cosmetic standpoint honestly. My solution for the past few years is to buy seasonal tablecloths that are plastic coated on top and cloth like underneath to cover the table. By time it is ruined, it is the next season and I replace it. It cost about $20 a year and saved me a ton of work while keeping my table decent looking. We are finally replacing it with a custom built wood table(that will have two coats of poly)because our kids are all teens now who mostly know not to destroy furniture gaster than we can buy it.

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Thursday 10th of March 2022

I love the idea of seasonal tablecloths, especially plastic coated!


Friday 3rd of December 2021

The first part of our marriage we (not by choice) didn’t have kids. When we bought our house all of the trim was white, we already had a white sectional, and, since we finally had a real dining room we bought a light oak table with white chairs. In the next six years we adopted older children -2 and finally had a baby. Said house was growing smaller by the day since I was beginning to homeschool.

When buying the next, bigger house, the dining room white chairs were done for and were pitched. They not only cosmetic damage, but also structural damage. From then on, everything we replaced was “tuf” enough for my kids. However, the light oak table was never replaced.

My kids are long grown and gone, but if I sit at that table I can still see the writing and the math problems whenever they forgot to write on the placemat or just held the pencil too hard. That “damage” gives me more joy than all the sparkling, clean, brand new tables of the world.

Jessica @ Cutesy Crafts

Thursday 9th of December 2021

Oh, I love that so much! I need to learn to cherish those things more than be annoyed by them. Thank you for sharing!

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