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Pros and Cons of Wood, Metal and Glass Coffee Tables for a Living Room

I love to share advice and tips gleaned from my own experiences.

When the time comes where you need to purchase a coffee table for your living room you are going to be looking for one that meets a certain set of criteria. You will also need to decide on the type of coffee table you want. There are so many choices ranging from wood, glass and metal as well as a combination of the two. It will need to meets the following requirements.

  • Is it functional - You need to be able leave food or drink on the table without it becoming unsteady or wobbling with the extra weight. If the coffee table only weight a few pounds and your child is able to lift it because it is so light then is unlikely that it will bear a lot of weight.
  • Is it durable - If you have a busy household or have kids running around a room, will this table last more than a few years or will it get broken or scratched within a few months.
  • Is it affordable - Most of the time when you go furniture shopping you will have a budget listing out how much you are willing to spend. When it comes to purchasing your coffee table it will need to be priced close to this figure. Not only that but it might also need to match a list of characteristics in regard to what it is that you are looking for.
  • Is it aesthetically pleasing - You need to purchase a coffee table that will fit in with the rest of the furniture in your living room. You don't want a table that is too big or to bulky or one that's over powers the rest of the room.
  • Will it fit the space - When you are purchasing a coffee table, you need to take account of all the other furniture in the living room. If you have a small living room, then you can’t exactly get a table that is as long as your sofa. You need to know the exact measurements of your living room and also have an idea of what size coffee table will fit in the space. Don’t purchase a coffee table that is going to take up all the spare space in the living room.

Wooden Coffee Table

Advantages of Wooden Coffee Tables

  • Wooden coffee tables are very practical and are easy to keep clean. If it is made from solid wood it will occasionally require a coat of varnish or oiling to preserve the wood.
  • A wooden coffee table can withstand a lot of wear and tear and if you take good care of it, it can last you for many years.
  • Wood is also very durable and practical and if you have kids or pets in the house, there isn’t any chance of them breaking it if they drop something onto it. They might get some bumps if they themselves knock into it but it won’t shatter or fall apart.
  • After a few years if you want to change the color of your coffee table you can sand it down , prime it and then paint the table another color.
  • There are lots of different types of wooden coffee tables on the market. Some are manufactured with a veneer surface. This will give you a variety of options to choose from when it comes to choosing a coffee table with a veneer finish.
  • There are so many places that you can check out when you are looking for a coffee table that it shouldn't be a problem trying to find one to suit your décor purchasing one.

Disadvantages of Wooden Coffee Tables

  • When you are buying a wooden coffee table you really need to be sure of the quality of the wood. Some tables can be made from chipboard/ particle board which isn’t as high in quality as actual wood.
  • Some wooden coffee tables can come with a thin layer of veneer on the surface which means that this type of coffee table will be cheaper to buy. A solid wood coffee table or a table that has a high quality veneer finish are better in this case.
  • Some types of veneer can vary in quality between manufactures. If the veneer isn’t high in quality and is very thin, it will peel or blister if it gets damaged. You might even see it begin to peel back from the wood or get scratched if something chipped it or if you accidentally banged it into the wall when moving it.

Glass Coffee Table

Advantages of a Glass Coffee Table

  • If you have a small living room then getting a glass coffee table can trick the eye into thinking a small sitting room is larger than it actually is.
  • Most glass coffee tables will have a wooden or a metal frame. The size and thickness of the frame will vary between manufacturers so you need to check the sellers spec to see if the frame is strong enough. If the frame is solid wood or metal then the frame will be stronger than a frame that is hollow in the center.
  • If you have a rug in your living room then having a glass coffee table means that visitors to the room can see the design of the rug.
  • A glass coffee table can help open up a small living room because it doesn’t over power the room and you can get a small table that takes up very little space.
  • A glass coffee table will work with any type of living room décor because it usually comes in a frame with the clear glass being the focus.

Disadvantages of a Glass Coffee Table

  • If you have children or pets, they could easily bump into the table and scratch or break the glass.
  • Overtime the glass could get chipped if items fall on the table or if you accidentally hit something against it.
  • The thickness of the glass will vary between manufacturers so you will need to check the spec before you buy it too see what the thickness of the glass is. You want a table that is sturdy and will withstand some wear and tear.
  • If the manufacturer doesn’t use tempered glass on the coffee table then when it breaks it will break into millions of little pieces.
  • If people don’t use coasters for their drinks then they will leave water stains on the table. You will have to clean these stains after each use to avoid the build up of water stains.

Metal Coffee Table

Advantages of a Metal Coffee Table

  • Metal coffee tables can be very versatile. Many manufacturers sell them in a variety of colors and finishes so you should be able to find one that works with the décor you already have in your living room.
  • Metal is also strong and long lasting and it won’t deteriorate over time as long as you clean it with a damp cloth every time it gets dirty.
  • The price of metal coffee tables will vary between manufacturers depending on the quality of the metal that they use to make the table. Some metal tables will be cheaper if they use hollowed out metal for the frame.
  • Metal coffee tables that are manufactured from good quality metal that isn’t hollowed out means that the frame will be a lot more sturdier and it will be able to bear the weight of any food or drinks left on it.
  • Metal is also flame resistant so it won’t go on fire.
  • Also if you have a pet that chews or scratches your furniture, then they won’t be able to do any of these things with a metal coffee table.

Disadvantages of Metal Coffee Tables

  • Some versions of metal coffee tables can be made very cheap metal or tin that will be very flimsy and thin and useless.
  • Some manufactures of metal coffee tables will sell coffee tables that have a hollowed out frame. In this instance the coffee table won’t be as strong or as sturdy compared to a solid metal frame one.
  • You need to check the spec of the coffee table to see what the weight of it is. If the spec says 250 llb or lower, then it is likely that the coffee table will be extremely light. If possible try to go and view these types of coffee tables prior to purchasing one to check out how strong and sturdy it is.
  • Even though the table is metal it will still tarnish or turn rusted if it is left outside unless it has been coated with a weather resistant paint.


When the times comes for you to choose a coffee table for your living room, you need to think about the type that you want as well as its durability. You are either going to invest in a piece that will last you a long time or purchase a table that is fashionable this year.

Always try to view a similar version of the coffee table that you plan to buy in a shop prior to purchasing it online. You will be able to see if the piece is actually suitable for the space.

Also when you view the table in the store, you are actually able to check out the quality of the table and the sturdiness. If you do purchase an investment piece then you know that it will most likely last you for a few years.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Metal Furniture, (2017),,

Modern coffee tables – the advantages of glass top designs, (2012),

Wood as a Furniture- Pros & Cons, (2018),,

© 2020 Sp Greaney


Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 30, 2020:

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@Adrienne Farricelli, I think we all deviate to the one that we know will last the longest and is the one we know we can refurbish if we so choose.

I've seen a few instagram influencers with furniture with a similar theme. It looks beautiful too.

Adrienne Farricelli on October 29, 2020:

Wood coffee tables were always my favorite, although I dislike the unsightly scratches that may form over time. I have lately seen some nice marble ones, but I am sure they are rather expensive. I voted the poll and selected wood and not surprisingly, wood had the highest votes.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 25, 2020:

@ Ivana Divac, our situation was similar. There is so much choices available, it can be hard to pick one.

@SARA, yes wood just seems so warm and it works it all types of settings.

@ Eman Abdallah Kamel, that's a wise choice. Glass is pretty but also not really practical.

@Chitrangada Sharan, thank you. Yes, that is so true. Also wood seems to be much more practical for lots of households.

@Diana Carol Abrahamson, yes that's a great point and I think with the price of furniture today, you really need to invest in long lasting pieces.

Diana Carol Abrahamson from Somerset West on October 24, 2020:

Thanks for all your indepth pointers for choosing coffee tables. I personally prefer solid wood, because of its durability and versatility. As you say, you can change the colour, if you tire of it. :)

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 24, 2020:

Great article with relevant information about buying coffee tables. I always prefer wooden furniture. The quality of wood should be high, such as teakwood. Glass furniture looks elegant, but i don't think it's safe for children and elderly people.

You have very well discussed all the pros and cons and I am sure this will help many.

Thanks for sharing.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on October 23, 2020:

Thanks for this interesting article on the advantage and disadvantages of different types of coffee tables. Because of my children, I do not prefer glass, so I prefer other types.

SARA from Islamabad on October 23, 2020:

Thankyou for sharing this informative article. I love wooden tables as it looks traditional and gave asthetic look.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on October 23, 2020:

This is a great article. It's very useful to me, since I'm decorating my new place, and I could really use some pointers. Wooden table is definitely my favorite. Thank you for sharing!

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 22, 2020:

@ MG Singh emge, thank you. Buying home furnishings is so time consuming.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 22, 2020:

Wonderful article that gave me a lot of ideas to decorate my living room.Thanks a lot.

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 21, 2020:

@ Maren Elizabeth Morgan, thanks. I know! It's one of those areas that I've been investigating recently.

That phrase does really express it all. Wood also works with most living room.

Maren Elizabeth Morgan from Pennsylvania on October 20, 2020:

Great article. Who knew so much can be said about coffee table choices? I go for wood for what I regard as its spiritual "fellow Earth being" qualities. Great article!

Sp Greaney (author) from Ireland on October 20, 2020:

@ Liz Westwood, yes they are lots of nice ones on the market but you know the quality isn't as good once you put them together.

@Pamela Ogseby, I like the metal too but the wood ones always look so warm and inviting.

@ Cheryl E Preston, thank you. Glad it was useful.

@ Liza, wow, that's a great achievement. If it does the job then you are sorted.

@ Umesh Chandra Bhatt, thank you. Appreciate your feedback.

@ Danny, yes I think that's a good approach. Also what works for one household might not suit the next.

@Lakshmi, yes that's so true. It also looks great in most settings.

Lakshmi from Chennai on October 20, 2020:

Interesting article,i prefer wooden table and it is more safe and bring the traditional and elegant look.

Danny from India on October 20, 2020:

If I have to select them, I would take it by the functionalities and space where it is kept. For the main living room, the glass table would be apt, for study or bedroom metal one and for kitchen an eco-friendly wooden

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on October 19, 2020:

Well written, very informative, and useful article. Thanks Sp.

Liza from USA on October 19, 2020:

My husband and I were looking for a new coffee table for the living room. We never had a decent coffee table as we usually use a small end table to put the coffee mug aside while sitting on the couch. Actually, I have made one coffee table from a crate, which was awesome. Thanks for sharing the article, SP. It helps me to make a choice!

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on October 19, 2020:

This is very interesting and answers a lot of questions in advance. Thank you for making the choice easier,

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 19, 2020:

The timing for this article i intersting as I have been thinking about buying a new coffee table. We don't have a lot of room so that is a consideration. I do not want metal but I am open to thinking aoub wood or glass, Sp. Thanks for this very good review.

Liz Westwood from UK on October 19, 2020:

I have read your article with interest. I once asked for wood coffee tables as a present. I was given chipboard ones. Soon their condition deteriorated. They did not wear well. We replaced them with wood tables, which I have been very pleased with. I also heard of a glass coffee 'exploding' once, when the glass shattered for no apparent reason.

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