So your fake wicker outdoor suite came with not one but two matching coffee tables. Fantastic! Those tempered glass tops are perfect for holding your drinks, toddlers and other outdoor detritus, but they have one tiny flaw: refraction. Every day, the glass focuses sunlight on the nice absorbent plastic, which eventually becomes brittle and cracks through. And then it begins. A small hole becomes a few trailing strands of plastic, becomes... what you see above. Not the elegant outdoor setting you signed up for, and possibly the epitome of first world problems.
You will need:
- Glass cleaner
- Methylated spirits/rubbing alcohol
- Duct tape
- Scraper/wide chisel
- Matte spray paint
- Beer *
* Or your beverage of choice.
Step 1: How Not to Fix the Problem
When table number one went, I tried and considered a range of solutions. Hot glue and a pair of scissors only exacerbated the problem. I thought about recovering the solid frame with shade cloth fabric, but that wouldn't have matched our chairs, and it seemed like the same problem would eventuate.
Table two followed suit, and I had to choose between finally making that wooden table I've been promising my wife, or figuring out at least a temporary solution. Temporary solution time, obviously. And this one worked.
Step 2: Assess and Limit the Damage
Once brittle, the tables shed fragments of plastic every time they are moved, used or looked at sideways. In our case, this damage was contained to the area beneath the glass, and much worse in (what remained of) the middle of the table.
Duct tape to the rescue!
Remove the glass from the table. It should lift cleanly away, but might be stuck to its rubber mounts if it's been on there for years. Set the glass aside (safely) for the next step, and then get intimate with the table itself.
I taped the edges of the table both above and below, then broke away the remaining brittle plastic. The duct tape won't last forever, but it's only there to contain any residual fragments, so we don't have more piles of plastic growing on the deck.
Step 3: Paint the Glass
Clean and dry the glass. I started with a bath towel, then used glass cleaner and a scraper, finishing it off with methylated spirits and paper towels.
Find a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, and mask the glass off with newspaper or a tarpaulin. Follow all safety precautions on the spray-paint, shake it well, and apply the first coat. You want to paint the bottom of the glass, so pay attention to which side has any safety markings or rubber feet (before you scrape the glass, or you'll be guessing). Painting the bottom means the paint won't scratch off the first time you put a coffee mug on the surface, and should give you the longest solution.
Spray a single light coat until the glass is covered, and leave it to dry for 20-30 minutes. Then re-coat and leave it alone for at least a few hours.
Step 4: Reassemble
Pull on a pair of gloves (so your skin doesn't damage the paint), and carefully place the glass back on top of the frame, paint-side down. Instead of the yawning maw of plastic decay, you should now see a nearly flawless and mirrored black surface.
Job almost done, but you'll still want a refreshing beverage to ensure the table works correctly (not pictured, sorry).