Exploding Patio Sets?

OK, not really… but now that I have your attention, let me tell you what happened this past weekend. It was Saturday, a relatively warm, cloudy day here in New Jersey. Like every Saturday for the past few months, my routine was the same, I would go out on my back deck, enjoy a cup of coffee and my morning cigarette (yes, I know… don’t go there), the dogs run around the yard, and then I get ready and head off to the gym. So like every other Saturday morning, I knew exactly what the condition of the yard was (mostly I note whether I will be mowing or doing yard work that day). Nothing was particularly amiss or out of the usual.

As I was coming home, TheWife calls me and says the our patio set is “broken” (I really must speak to her about her ability to understate a situation). I arrived home to find that the tempered glass top of our patio set had shattered into nothing but a chards of glass. I mean tiny. The pieces were so small that you could fit two or three of them on a dime. I found this quite baffling. Now granted tempered glass is supposed to break in a way that prevents thos huge sharp edges from forming, but in the past, I had only seen the tiny pieces at point of impact when something broke the glass, and the rest sort of hung together in a “sheet” of broken pieces. In this case the entire tabletop was completely in chards. I did my best Gil Grissom imitation (other than taking photos… dammit), looking for a cause. There were no rocks, sticks, branches from a tree or other projectiles within the rubble. The ring that protects the center hold where the umbrella goes had fallen straight down and landed on the leg of the table, so obviously the table came straight down, and not at some angle. There was no blood to indicate that a squirrel or other animal had landed on it crashing through. I even entertained the notion that since I live in the flight path of Newark Liberty International Airport that it was a case of “blue ice” and that in the midday sun, it had just melted… but even that would have left some sort of residue from the dye (and or contained waste…ewww). No, nothing seemed to fit.

The table, was one I had purchased from K-Mart a couple of years ago, one of their Martha Stewart line of tables. I was talking about it this week to somebody, and decided to look up some information on Tempered Glass, and at first found this article discussing how when tempered glass is compromised in some way that it can seem like it just “explodes.” Back into Google for a search of “Tempered Glass Exploding” and there… the first article up (at least at the time I did the search), was this little piece called, “Sounds of Summer: Martha Stewart Tables Shattering.” Turns out, this “phenomenon” that had struck our table was not at all uncommon.

There is apparently even a class action lawsuit that is in the works against Martha Stewart Living Omnipedia and JRA Funiture.  However, JRA Funiture filed Chapter 7 Bakruptcy (total liquidation) last year, so at least they are no longer the source (depending on inventories of course) of the tables, but it also means no recovery for the Class Action Lawsuit either.

I’d like to think that with JRA Funiture out of business that this is the end of the situation, but to be honest, reading how Sears (and/or Kmart) and Martha Stewart Living have not even (so far as I can tell) acknowledged this as a problem, outside of saying they will work with consumers under warranty, leaves me a little ill at ease with them, leaving me doubting whether I want to trust them again.  Problem is, at least the old sets were also farmed out under different names to other chains as well.  JRA’s funiture was also sold under the Hampton Bay name at Home Depot, as well as being carried by Sam’s Club, Target and Safeway. (Only Home Depot has has a similar report of an exploding table that I have been able to find so far).

If you have (or had) one of these sets,  if your table is still under warranty you can call K-mart Customer Service about it at 866-562-7848 (though K-Mart has not specifically said they will honor the manufacturer’s warranty) or Home Depot (who will honor the warranty) at 800-585-9969.  Other than that you are probably out of luck.  So what does this all mean?  I guess, most of all be careful if you are going to buy a glass top patio set from a discount retailer.  In my case, I am thinking a nice teak set might be in our future instead of risking it with glass again.


  1. Shouldn’t “a class action lawsuit” that have been “a glass action lawsuit” :)

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