The UK's Furniture Research Association

Call +44 (0) 1438 777 700

News Article

Furniture Retail Quality Group - glass furniture response

In response to the recent news stories the Furniture Retail Quality Group would like to reassure consumers regarding the safety of products containing toughened safety glass.

Whilst we are unable to comment on specific incidents, instances of glass products shattering are generally rare. The type of products affected are normally designed with safety in mind and are made from thermally toughened safety glass to minimise potential injuries.

What causes the glass to shatter?

Toughened glass is designed to shatter into lots of small granular pieces when damaged. This is a safety feature to reduce the risk of injury, as it doesn’t form large and jagged shards like normal (annealed) glass. Toughened glass is also stronger and more resistant to heat than normal glass, which is why it is commonly used in products like car windows, oven doors, shower screens, glass cookware and furniture.

In rare instances, if toughened glass is damaged, for example chips and scratches it can lead to the glass breaking seemingly of its own accord. Damage to the glass (not always visible) can get worse over time until it reaches a critical point when it may shatter. This is not a fault with the product or design, this is how the toughened glass is intended to behave if damaged.

In addition an uncommon, but unavoidable reason for glass breaking is nickel-sulfide (NiS) inclusions. These tiny particles can get trapped in glass during manufacturing. In toughened glass they sometimes expand slowly and can reach a point where they cause the glass to break.

To support consumer safety, members of the Furniture Retail Quality Group encourage the use of product testing to assess the suitability of the glass used in furniture and the final product itself.

Members of the Furniture Retail Quality Group would offer the following advice to consumers on how to care for their products:

Toughened glass can withstand impacts but is not indestructible. Damage is most likely to occur if the glass is struck by a hard object, dropped on its edge onto a hard surface or, for garden furniture, blown over in strong winds.

To reduce the risk of damage it is recommended that:

  • During assembly do not lay the glass directly onto hard or rough surfaces. We recommend laying the glass on a blanket or cardboard during assembly. You could even use the box.
  • When lifting or moving the product, ask for someone to lend a hand, trying to move a product on your own can lead to accidents.
  • Do not use furniture if any parts are missing or broken. Contact your retailer immediately.
  • Do not place very hot or very cold items, such as saucepans or barbecues, directly on the glass surface. Extreme temperature differences over small areas can damage glass.
  • Do not sit or stand upon the glass surface.
  • Do not strike the glass with hard or pointed items, or use the glass as a chopping surface.
  • Do not drag rough or heavy objects over the top of the glass.
  • We recommend using place mats, coasters and table cloths to help protect against scratches and accidentally dropped items.
  • Clean the glass regularly to make sure there are no grit on the top.
  • Do not clean glass with washing powders or any other substances containing abrasives, since these substances can scratch glass.
  • For tables that can be used outdoors, if your table has a parasol, make sure the edge of the parasol cut-out has a protector in place. In addition always use a weighted parasol base, and remove the parasol in windy conditions. Parasols can put pressure on the table top or even blow the table over in windy weather.
  • For tables that can be used outdoors it is advised that the table is kept covered when not in use to protect the glass from the weather and accidental damage.
  • If you have any concerns regarding your product please contact your retailer immediately.