We maybe should have gone with the cupholder add-ons
July 16, 2013 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Coasters! We just got a new beautifully crafted wood table. It's super fancy with removable leaves and an inset layer (for puzzle doin'!) and extra doohickeys for boardgaming and it's going to be for games, eating, laptopping, and more. Problem: I am a slob. Problem 2: I have never been in the habit of using coasters. Problem 3: We don't own any coasters right now I can make myself use right away. So, how did you get yourself into the coaster-using habit? Would you do some window-shopping for really lovely/amazing/innovative coasters and share links with me? And, what should I do when I inevitably forget to use a coaster to minimize any damage? In the past I've either not cared enough about the furniture for it to matter, or it's not been wood.

Style guide for coaster shopping:

-Natural materials and inspirations like stone, wood, leaves, leather, verdigris copper, pottery with organic-feeling glazes are all lovely, as well as textile and fiber art pieces.
-But heavy is annoying and liable to get dropped poorly onto the table and ding things (and my fingers)
-It would be cool if they stored or displayed neatly in some way
-Also nerdy fun science things are great! But something other than the typical caffeine molecule diagrams and such, please.
-I might use this as an excuse to crochet things; I'd be happy to buy patterns for crochet or embroidery if you have any suggestions.
posted by Mizu to Home & Garden (32 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You didn't ask this but while you are getting into the habit of using coasters, you may sometimes forget to use coasters and set your glass down directly. When you lift it up you may see a light-colored water stain. That's okay! You can lift that stain up with, of all things, mayonnaise.

ETA: I see you did ask it.
posted by gauche at 6:12 PM on July 16, 2013

So, how did you get yourself into the coaster-using habit?

Well, um, I started putting coasters under drinks. C'mon, it's not that hard, just do it. Don't own any? Toss around a bunch of old CDs and start using them, til you get those fancy ones. Alternative approach: put all your drinks in glasses with stems, like wine glasses or goblets. Essentially they have built-in coasters.
posted by beagle at 6:15 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

To encourage the use of coasters, get a big, clean jar. Put a sign on it that says "Table refinishing fund" and every time anyone puts something that should need a coaster down, but not on a coaster (this includes you), they put $5 in the jar.
posted by rtha at 6:19 PM on July 16, 2013

If you find that coasters just aren't for you, you can always get yourself a few insulated cups/glasses. Think Tervis or Kleen Kanteen Insulated.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 6:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thinkgeek. Search for coasters. Nerdy coasters? CHECK.
posted by Jacen at 6:20 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

i made people start using those cozy things on their drinks - that way it was like an attached coaster they couldn't forget.

Also? Keeps your drink cold. Or warm. Whichever.
posted by dotgirl at 6:22 PM on July 16, 2013

I bought a whole bunch of coasters and put them all over the living room. I bought ones that were cute and interesting and colorful and got into the habit of telling others to use coasters. Now, I'm kind of obnoxious about the use of coasters by just mentioning coasters a lot.

Coasters. Coasters! COASTERS!
posted by xingcat at 6:25 PM on July 16, 2013

I've seen a lot of these agate coasters going around and I think they're wonderful. We're not in need of coasters right now (glass tables) but some day...Come to think of it, depending on the size, you might be able to store them in a petri dish or beaker or something along those lines.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:30 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Beer mats are inventive and plentiful and will get you started.
posted by holgate at 6:31 PM on July 16, 2013

These are sort-of chintzy looking but mine have now held up for TWELVE YEARS, so they last! You can pick them up at any Michael's or similar craft store, usually in the embroidery section.

I cross-stitched leftover bits of aida cloth with small motifs from a book of Celtic cross-stitch patterns, and people love them. There are similar books for just about every design style you can imagine, or you can find things online, or design your own (I have a program that converts graphics to cross stitch charts, memail me if you have questions). You could embroider or cross-stitch some coasters relevant to your interests, like Game of Thrones house symbols or Catan tile pictures or equations or horses or whatever.

(Also I think you should post a pic of your table, it sounds pretty.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:31 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd buy some awesome color change tiles to use. They are pretty rainbow colors and sciencey and magic!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:36 PM on July 16, 2013 [5 favorites]

Jetlagaddict, those agate coasters are gorgeous! I have found though, that you need to be careful with totally smooth coasters: condensation from a smooth bottoms glass can stick the coaster to the glass until you tip it to drink and then the coaster slides off and can damage your furniture with dents instead of rings! (It's rage inducing! We don't own those coasters anymore.)

Also, it's easier to care about your stuff when you have nice stuff. I agree with xingcat, just have coasters out and you will use them!
posted by heybearica at 6:37 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

My solution to the "nice table and I don't want things spilled on it" problem (with two kids, for higher difficulty) was to buy 6 or 7 yards of clear vinyl shower curtain, from your local fabric store (e.g. Joann Fabrics, or apparently online, although I don't think I paid that much per yard) and use it on the table. Wipes up easy, and you can still see the pretty wood through it.

(You'd have to take it off for the times you wanted to use your puzzle inset, but that's not a big deal.)
posted by leahwrenn at 6:40 PM on July 16, 2013

Is the table unfinished? Even on a finished table, water can leave marks, but on an unfinished table, it's almost a cruel canvas of marks that stain your beautiful table. I have a table made of reclaimed railroad ties from CB2 that was completely unfinished. I finished it with a bottle or two of Howard's Feed'n'wax: orange oil and beeswax.

Smells great, just left it on very wet all night, then buffed out in the morning. Darkened things just a bit, but the table is completely protected now. While I wouldn't leave a puddle on it overnight or anything, it's held up to some pretty vicious spills, as a good finished table should.

In the meantime, just go buy coasters are put them out. :-)
posted by disillusioned at 6:42 PM on July 16, 2013

(Also I think you should post a pic of your table, it sounds pretty.)

It's the "Portal Gaming Table" from Geek Chic in a cherry finish.

Okay I think the wisdom I'm picking up from these answers is that I just need to have coasters in my face all the time! So that means buying and making them; I highly encourage further links. Those color changing tiles are a really delightful idea!
posted by Mizu at 6:49 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I just got a bunch of cork coasters and put them in the logical drink-setting-down-places (e.g.: the corner of the coffee table closest to my spot on the couch, next to my computer by the mousepad, etc...). When it comes down to it, there are only a few places you'd set your drink down. If you just leave a coaster there, that's where you'll naturally put your drink. And because my coasters are cork, they absorb most of the surface moisture and don't really need to be cleaned separately, so I just leave them where they are.
posted by mhum at 6:59 PM on July 16, 2013


If you're someplace with heat/humidity, you might want to get some cork coasters or something that will absorb a bit of moisture otherwise any drinks with ice are going to get all condensey and if the water isn't soaking in to your table, it's going to drip in your lap. There are a bunch of nice options. Here are a few basic choices: 1, 2, 3. The low end ones are cheap enough that you can get a dozen of them. The high end ones look decent, I think. Another simple alternative is just to get those super light cardboard ones like they have at bars and get them printed custom for your place which I think would be nifty.
posted by jessamyn at 7:04 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

I prefer coasters that are absorbent, like beer mats, or that have a lip. I tend to have a lot of magazines around, and they serve as coasters if I don't feel like getting one of the pretty coasters that were a Christmas gift once. You learn by thinking about how lovely the table is, and how much it would suck if it got water-stained. Some water rings turn white, and can be treated with oil (mayo, orange oil, etc). Some water stains turn black, and require more work to remove.

You can make coasters out of plain old cardboard for now. Cover them with duct tape or some fabric, if you want. Museum shops always have classy coasters.
posted by theora55 at 7:14 PM on July 16, 2013

I use small cork coasters meant to sit under flower pots. I get them at my local nursery.
posted by michellenoel at 7:16 PM on July 16, 2013

I put a table runner on the coffee table. You could get seasonal ones, ones that match your decor, or maybe bamboo like these. I've seen them at Target or Pier One. I also have a faux leather one that I made myself that works great.
posted by tamitang at 7:28 PM on July 16, 2013

Toast-it-coasters are fun to use and can be arranged like a loaf of bread when not in use. They're pretty big, so also good for bowls.
posted by before and after at 7:29 PM on July 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

Thirstystone coasters. They're beautiful, they're sandstone so the condensation is absorbed by the stone, and they have a cork bottom so you don't mar your table.

If you're concerned that they don't offer a big landing area, you could buy some cheap 12"x12" cork squares and cover most of your table, or make a kind of table runner out of them. A cork runner actually sounds like a good idea for hot as well as cold. Project!

Or apparently you can make a table runner of wine corks. Classier, but so much wine.
posted by tllaya at 7:45 PM on July 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

Trick is to have lots of coasters, it's easier to remember to use them if you don't have to go across the room to where they are neatly stacked to get them. Keep them on the table in roughly the location people would put drinks down, you (and visitors) will see them and for the most part they just use them.

I have some nice cork ones I like because it doesn't matter which way is up,they are cheap and they handle the condensation well. I also have some a friend made that are like tiny rag rugs, they are bright and they always make me smile when I use them.
posted by wwax at 8:00 PM on July 16, 2013

dexter http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e755/?srp=1
portal 2 http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e912/?srp=2
GoT http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ebde/?srp=4
rubix cube http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e866/?srp=5
classic Star Wars http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e6f3/?srp=6
3.5 floppy http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ee37/?srp=7
Stargate http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/b928/?srp=8
Cylon http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ed7d/?srp=9
Tardis http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/ed53/?srp=10
posted by Jacen at 8:37 PM on July 16, 2013

Coasters are possibly the all time BEST vacation souvenir. You can find them everywhere, they're always unique, and you could always use more.
posted by Sara C. at 8:54 PM on July 16, 2013

I've had bevshots coasters on my wishlist for quite a while!
They're highly magnified images of drinks.

I have cork coasters and ceramic coasters and cheap beer mats I swipe from bars usually, but with all of those in another state right now I'm using a (cheap, cloth) napkin as a coaster.

Optionally, if you're mostly drinking out of bottles or cans, coozies are another solution.
posted by worstname at 9:40 PM on July 16, 2013

You can go to Home Depot and pick up several hardwood floor samples to use as coasters. They have a foam padding on the bottom to keep them from slipping around. You can use them individually or attach them end to end to make a table runner of sorts out of them. There are many styles and colors to choose from and they are FREE (at least they are where I live).
posted by wherever, whatever at 11:30 PM on July 16, 2013

I came here to recommend Thirstystone coasters but tllaya beat me to it.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:49 AM on July 17, 2013

I have Cosmic Coasters: four coasters which are a game from Looney Labs. Nifty pictures of the moons of Jupiter; made of the same stuff as beer mats, light and durable.
posted by Pallas Athena at 4:43 AM on July 17, 2013

We have a plain version of these, which we found in the store without the printed design. They're just thin strips of bamboo, woven together with decorative threads, then bonded to a loose-woven fabric backing, then cut into coaster shapes and edged with sewn-on fabric tape. They're cheap, organic-looking, lightweight, thin, and won't dent or scratch anything. They are not waterproof, but they will stop drops of condensation from an iced beverage and insulate against the heat of a hot one. We keep a bunch of them in a ceramic pot on the fireplace mantle, near the coffee table, so they're near at hand whenever we want them.

BTW, the finishes on most new commercially manufactured furniture are much more durable than what you'd find on older pieces. They can still scratch and the wood can still dent, but at least discoloration from moderate heat and water stains is less likely.
posted by jon1270 at 5:24 AM on July 17, 2013

I have a Geek Chic Emissary table in walnut with... pretty much everything except the drink holders. And I'm going to have to agree that coasters or placemats are pretty much the way to go. Admittedly we do have drawers that can be pulled out, making the placemat option a lot more viable, but if you don't use all of the recessed space on the table you can just cover the part you don't use with a placemat or runner and not have to worry about precise coaster placement. As far as coasters, my husband and I trained ourselves by getting the Rubik's Cube coasters as previously mentioned. And then constantly reminding each other how much we'd just spent on the table.

However, just to put your mind at ease somewhat, in the year and a half we've owned our table it has seen some heavy use and some spills, but still looks good as new. So it's pretty durable! Just make sure to clean things up instead of leaving them to sit. (Which I assume you would do anyway but it bears mentioning.)
posted by daikaisho at 6:11 AM on July 17, 2013

I've crocheted coasters before -- no particular patterns, just anything roundish that suits me. If you go with a lightweight yarn you can felt them, which can be a pretty neat look. Small doilies are also great for coasters. You could also do some tapestry work with them, maybe pixel art crocheted coasters? Go with something with a limited color set or that would be recognizable in whatever colors you've got. Coasters are a good "I don't want to start a real project" project.
posted by asperity at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2013

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