How to polish scratches out of a glass tabletop

December 12, 2012

Q. I have a question concerning a 30-year-old, ¾-inch-thick glass top for a coffee table. The glass has gotten terribly scratched over the years. Can a thick piece of glass be polished to remove the scratches?

Washington

A. Try applying a thin layer of paste wax. Let it dry, then buff with a clean cotton cloth. If the scratches are shallow enough, that might be all you need. The wax fills the divots and helps light reflect as if the surface is smooth.

If that doesn’t do it, but the scratches are still so shallow that you can’t feel them with a fingernail, you can probably have them buffed out with a special polishing compound. Bel Pre Glassworks in Rockville (301-948-6003) does this using cerium oxide. The company does the work in its shop and will pick up pieces that are too large for customers to bring in themselves. The company doesn’t work in homes because the polishing compound can stain furnishings. Removing scratches usually takes at least half an hour, according to Courtney Ross, the sales and marketing director. The shop charges $60 an hour, so expect to pay at least $30.

If you want to attempt the repair yourself, check out products sold for rubbing away scratches in automobile glass, such as the Diamondite Glass Repair Kit. It sells for $50 to $60, depending on whether you get the system for hand application or the one for machine application. The machine kit includes a polishing pad that fits into an electric drill.

If your table has deeper scratches, attempts to rub them away with a buffing compound might leave the surface looking worse than it is now. But you can probably order a new glass top from a full-service glass company.

Have a problem in your home? Send queries to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in December, such as disconnecting hoses.

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