Replacing a mirror in a small area like the bathroom can give the entire room a new look. Mirrors add light and space and instantly make even the tiniest space seem bigger. But before you hurry off to buy a beautiful mirror to start your makeover, it is important to check that the glass is suitable for bathroom use.
Bathroom mirrors should be made from special glass as regular mirror glass may not tolerate the high humidity and temperature changes inside a bathroom. Tempered or laminated glass mirrors are suitable for bathrooms as they are moisture-resistant and won’t shatter into sharp pieces if they break.
If you thought selecting a new mirror for your bathroom was as simple as choosing a new shape, think again. Bathroom mirrors need to withstand unique conditions that can put a lot of strain on the glass and the frame it is mounted in.
Do You Need Special Glass For A Bathroom Mirror?
At first glance, the glass in all mirrors may look the same. After all, they all offer highly reflective surfaces, so it is natural to assume that choosing a mirror for the bathroom is simply finding a style that suits the décor.
Bathrooms are, however, quite different from the other rooms in a home. The warm and steamy conditions after a hot bath or shower can take a toll on a mirror’s backing. The result will be that, over time, it will break down. The result may be the formation of discoloration or dark spots, but sudden fluctuations in temperature and humidity may also result in surface cracks.
Because of the potential safety risks associated with regular mirrors breaking into dangerously sharp shards, federal safety laws exist that address this. They require that bathroom mirrors be made from tempered or laminated glass. The tempering process ensures that the pieces will be small and less likely to cause injury if a mirror breaks.
It is always best to check each area’s safety codes before making a makeover. There are several reasons why using an ordinary glass mirror in a bathroom is not a good idea.
- The fluctuations in temperature and humidity may cause the mirror to break
- The shards of a regular glass mirror are extremely jagged and sharp
- People are more likely to slip in a bathroom
- People are often not clothed in a bathroom setting. This means that they will have no protection against sharp pieces of mirror glass in case of an accident.
What’s Difference Between Regular Glass and Tempered Glass?
Tempered glass is between 3 and 5 times stronger than ordinary glass, so it is more resistant to heat and breakage. Since bathrooms are small areas that frequently undergo significant temperature and humidity fluctuations, having the correct type of glass in the mirror is essential.
Let’s take a quick look at the differences between tempered and regular glass.
|Regular Glass||Tempered Glass|
|Regular strength||Four times stronger|
|It breaks into sharp, irregular shapes||Shatters into small, rounded pieces|
|Cooled off rapidly during the annealing process while being manufactured||Cooled off very slowly during the annealing process, which makes it tougher.|
Remember, a mirror is simply a sheet of glass with a thin reflective layer on the back covered by a protective coating. So a mirror is every bit as fragile as a windowpane, which is why it is important to use safety glass mirrors in the bathroom.
If you have a regular mirror in your bathroom that you simply cannot part with, it is highly recommended that you apply a safety film on the rear of the glass. You can purchase mirror safety backing that can be stuck onto the back of the glass over the protective coating. It may still crack because of temperature or humidity fluctuations, but the shards are less likely to scatter and cause injury.
A less common but still a good option for bathroom mirror glass is laminated glass which can be confidently used in bathroom settings. This type of glass is held together by a thin polymer layer of polyvinyl butyral. This invisible film renders the mirror safer if it breaks as it may shatter, but it will stay in place.
Why Can’t I Use An Ordinary Glass Mirror In A Bathroom?
Special safety glass like tempered or laminated glass in bathroom mirrors is recommended because of the risk when it breaks, but having a regular mirror in the bathroom also has durability implications. The damp conditions in most bathrooms can quickly take a toll on the state of most regular mirrors.
Another problem when using any framed regular mirror in the bathroom is that the frame that holds it may not have been designed to withstand damp conditions. Over time this will lead to warping and twisting, which may crack the glass. No type of mirror glass will withstand excessive bending caused by the outer frame changing shape.
If you have ever been to an antique store, you may have noticed that some old mirrors have dark spots or flecks under the surface of the glass. This condition is referred to as mirror rot. In the case of really old mirrors, this process might have developed over a very long time.
Bathroom mirrors can develop mirror rot very quickly. The process, also called desilvering, happens when the protective coating on the back of the mirror wears away. The silver nitrate layer is exposed with this coating removed in certain spots. Silver nitrate is the layer responsible for giving the glass its reflective quality.
So although any mirror will look great in a bathroom when you first hang it, a regular mirror not specifically created for use in a bathroom may soon start showing signs of deterioration. In high moisture zones, like over the bathroom basin, condensation can occur unseen on the rear of the mirror, which can quickly break down the bond between the glass and the backing. The result will be expanding black spots on the spots where the silver layer is exposed.
To prevent moisture from building up behind your bathroom mirror and causing damage, you can try the following:
- Make it a habit to dry around the edges of the mirror each time you use the basin for brushing your teeth or washing your face. This will prevent the moisture on the glass from spreading around the edge, especially at the bottom section.
- Move the mirror to a higher spot so water is less likely to splash onto it.
- Use a moisture-proof frame or seal around the existing frame to prevent moisture from creeping in behind the mirror.
- Install a dehumidifier or extractor fan to help control the moisture level in your bathroom
The two types of surfaces that you will find on the surface of bathroom mirrors are either plane or spherical.
Plane surface mirrors are entirely flat and reflect everything without any level of distortion. Spherical surface mirrors can be either convex or concave. Concave mirrors are popular additions to bathroom vanities as they reflect the image larger than it is, so they are great for applying makeup or shaving.
What To Look For When Choosing a Bathroom Mirror
Bathroom mirrors can also feature special attributes that make them ideal for the setting. Mirrors are not created equal, and bathroom mirrors are available, making you wonder how you ever managed with a regular glass mirror.
Mirrors specifically for use in bathrooms are made using safety glass, so if you are in the bathroom aisle when shopping, you can switch from safety mode to focusing more on aesthetic requirements. Selecting the right mirror can change the entire look and feel of a bathroom.
These are some of the features that you will need to consider when choosing a mirror for your bathroom:
- Check that the mirror glass is tempered or laminated
- The size of the mirror and how it will look in your bathroom
- The shape of the mirror
- How will the mirror be mounted?
- The lighting around the mirror
- Do you need an anti-fog mirror?
Bathroom mirrors are a little different from mirrors in other areas of the home because there are many more options available in terms of size. If you need to create a larger-looking space, a giant wall mirror can make the area look much bigger.
However, the size of the bathroom mirror you choose will probably be determined by the height and width of your countertop. Remember that the larger the mirror, the more cleaning it will require to stay shiny and smudge-free.
There are no set rules regarding shapes when it comes to bathroom mirrors. The classic medicine cabinet rectangle shape has long since made way for creative designs which can either be mounted into the wall or hang in a frame. Keep in mind that if you choose a hanging mirror, it is imperative that the glass is safety glass in case it falls.
Bathroom mirrors can be set into the walls like tiles, be mounted in frames, or even be free-standing, although free-standing mirrors are not usually suitable for bathrooms. An essential consideration when selecting a mirror is how damp the back of the mirror may become during usual showering or bathing activities. Every effort must always be made to protect the rear surface of any mirror from dampness.
One of bathroom mirrors’ most universally trying problems is that they tend to fog up quickly. If this is something that you find particularly challenging, anti-fog bathroom mirrors are available. Fog-free mirrors can work in two ways:
- Some defoggers warm the mirror glass to prevent condensation when moist air makes contact with a cold surface.
- Some have a transparent polyester film applied to the glass’s surface, and excess water runs off rather than sticking to the surface, which causes the foggy effect.
If you have already invested in a bathroom mirror and are struggling to keep it clear, there are a few tricks to treat the mirror’s surface that may help. Keep in mind that you must ensure that no moisture reaches the back of the mirror even while cleaning or applying solutions to prevent fogging. Moisture build-up will damage the mirror’s protective coating, and it could soon develop black spots.
How Do You Defog A Bathroom Mirror?
Stepping out of a steamy shower and finding that the bathroom mirror is fogged up is pretty routine for most people. The fog is caused when warm, humid air condenses on the cold glass surface. However, if you don’t want to invest in a special anti-fog bathroom mirror, there are some hacks you can try that will provide a film on the glass, which will be less likely to fog-up.
Keep in mind that the effect of all these methods will only be short-term solutions, and you will need to reapply regularly to keep the surface of your bathroom mirror fog-free.
- Use a product like Rain-x. There are several similar products, and you may already have one that you use to repel water from your car windshield. Apply it to the surface of the bathroom mirror as per the instructions.
- Rub the surface of the mirror with a car of soap. Use any dry soap bar and run it evenly over the mirror’s surface before buffing it off using a clean cloth.
- Try shaving cream. Simply rub a thin layer over the entire surface of the mirror before buffing it.
- Use a vinegar solution. Mix vinegar and water in equal ration and rub it across the mirror’s surface. Then buff it using another clean cloth.
Since foggy mirrors result from condensation, one of the best long-term solutions to keeping your bathroom mirror sparkly even after a shower is to improve the ventilation. You can add an extractor fan or add some extra air vents.
Improving the ventilation in the bathroom will also reduce the likelihood of mold growing on the ceiling or walls.
Bathroom mirrors should be made from either tempered or laminated glass to provide additional strength. In addition, should the glass shatter, using safety glass will ensure that it is far less likely to cause injury.
Because bathrooms are damp and steamy environments, it is also vital that the protective coating on the rear of the glass is sealed to protect it from moisture. Regular glass can quickly develop unsightly moisture spots, and the mirror may not last for long.