We’ve chatted a lot about coffee tables here at Coffee Sensei and today is going to be no different as we turn our attention to the acrylic coffee table. When you think of acrylic coffee tables you might immediately think of the 70’s, with platform shoes, bell bottom jeans and tie dye t-shirts. Unless I’m just a crazy lunatic ;). Thing is, the acrylic coffee table is very much a throw back to the 70’s at least for me. For many of you, the end of the Second World War might have been your introduction to acrylic. As that is when acrylic really took off and was implemented into windshields etc.
An introduction to the acrylic coffee table
This was because in the early 1930’s a German chemist by the name of Otto Rohm patented and registered Plexiglas. A plexiglas coffee table is really just an acrylic coffee table with a fancy name.
I’m not going to turn this into a long explanation of how acrylic is made, because a) I’m not a scientist Jim, I’m just a country doctor 🙂 and b) I just don’t find it that interesting and I’m sure you don’t either. Needless to say however, that the acrylic coffee table had it’s heyday in the 60’s and 70’s and is making a strong come back today too.
As I mentioned earlier, plexiglass is another name for acrylic. Though in all fairness, plexiglas is a type of acrylic, as the term acrylic coffee table and generally acrylic is a more broad and generic name for the many types and varieties of Poly(methyl methacrylate) or PMMA. It is used in coffee tables because it is lightweight and strong and shatter resistant. An acrylic coffee table also doesn’t have bisphenol-A that is found in polycarbonate. bisphenol-A has become a concern recently especially in water bottles.
Why an acrylic coffee table?
If you are looking for an alternative to a glass coffee table then an acrylic coffee table might be something to consider as it was developed as a lightweight alternative to glass. An acrylic coffee table or at least the acrylic from which it is made is a relatively inexpensive material and easy to manipulate during manufacturing. However a couple of drawbacks from these end tables and coffee tables that are made from acrylic is that they can shatter just like glass when subjected to a blunt force but not into sharp pieces like glass, and they are not as scratch resistant as a glass top coffee table is. Though nowadays, manufacturers are adding materials to make the acrylic coffee table more scratch resistant.
The acrylic coffee table is also known under a few different names. You might have heard it called a lucite coffee table or a perspex coffee table. These are just names that different manufacturers use to try and “brand” their acrylic coffee tables. Optix and Altuglas are other names for acrylic too. Most of the time when you are looking for an acrylic coffee table it will be a clear acrylic coffee table as the default transparency of acrylic is clear, another reason it is used as a glass substitute.
As you know if you’ve spent some time on my blog, I’m a fan of the wooden coffee table and I’ve written lately about storage coffee tables and coffee tables with storage, and I personally have an oak coffee table which has been with me for many years. However, I have to say that the acrylic coffee table is a nice option for many of you. Especially if your decor is leaning more towards modern and contemporary design, and you’re looking for a large coffee table, hell, even coffee end tables can look especially good as an acrylic coffee table.
Although I mentioned earlier that manufacturing acrylic is inexpensive, most of the acrylic coffee tables that I’ve seen are not substantially cheaper than a wooden coffee table of the same size. Most often because the designs are unique and interesting and you’re paying a small premium I imagine for the design over what you would for a rustic coffee table.
So if you’re looking for contemporary coffee table but you don’t want to go with something like a black glass coffee table then I would have to suggest you take a good look at the acrylic coffee table as an option.