Mirrors are great household items that are both practical and stylish, but they can break easily, and you may face costly repairs if you don’t know how to do it yourself. You can do many repairs without the need for professional assistance, and they only require some research before undertaking them.
Repairing mirrors can take effort, but there are plenty of small maintenance jobs that can be done at home. Cracks and scratches will be the main things to fix, but desilvering may also become an issue. Learning how to fix these problems can save money and time spent on professional repairs.
If you’ve got a mirror that needs some sprucing up, check out this guide. We’ll teach you how to identify the different types of mirrors and how to fix them, and explore the issues most likely to affect them that you can treat at home.
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How to Repair Mirrors
Mirrors are indispensable household items, but they are also some of the likeliest to break. The expense of mirror repairs will be affected by the severity of the problem, but you’ll be able to fix them at home more often than you might think. This will save some of your finances, and you’ll be able to carry on enjoying your mirror without having to wait.
You should always look for professional help if your mirror requires more know-how than you have, but in the first instance, you can check this guide to see if you can undertake the process without outside assistance.
As a general rule, mirrors come in many shapes and sizes that you can use all over your home. To understand more about how to repair them, we’ll first look at the three main categories of mirrors, and how best to use them. The issues that will affect your mirrors will depend on their location in the house, and the use you assign them can influence the repair.
The most important first step in your journey to repair mirrors is to know how they work and the common issues you will face with them. Don’t give up on your mirrors before checking out this guide! It may extend their life span, and you may be able to also completely avoid a visit from a mirror repair professional.
Types of Mirrors
The types of mirrors are determined by how the glass used for them is treated. These are the three main types of mirrors usually found in households:
- Convex: These are spherical-shaped mirrors that give a distorted effect by making the proportions of the reflected image smaller.
- Plane: The most often-found mirror type in homes, the plane mirrors are flat and will show reflections with their natural proportions.
- Concave: This is another spherical type of mirror that distorts the reflection by making it seem larger, as the sphere curves inward.
Most Common Mirror Repairs
Now that you’ve seen the different types of mirrors, you’re probably already intuiting the problems you may be facing with them. These are some of the issues you’ll encounter most frequently with your mirrors:
- Scratches and cracks: These are almost inevitable when you have mirrors, and being able to fix them at home will depend entirely on their scale.
- Dark spots: A common sign of age, dark spots may ruin the surface of a mirror and prevent you from enjoying the reflection.
- Black edges and desilvering: This is another sign of wear and tear and will frequently affect bathroom mirrors in particular.
- Cloudiness: You may find the surface of a mirror becoming cloudy or foggy over time.
- Mirror backing replacement: The back of the mirror comes into contact with other surfaces and can be affected by other elements. This can cause it to become scratched and warped, which will require a lot of attention to repair.
How to Fix Mirrors
Now that we’ve addressed the most common issues that will affect mirrors and might require a repair, let’s see some ways to fix them before calling for a professional.
Scratches and Cracks
Scratches and cracks across a mirror’s surface can range from almost unnoticeable to unable to avoid noticing. This will affect how you’ll be able to pursue fixing them. In the most extreme cases, the mirror will need to be replaced, but on average, you’ll be able to salvage them from the more minor scrapes.
When you notice a scratch or a crack on your mirror, the most important thing to do is to act immediately. Cracks in glass can very quickly double and spread, which will render the mirror unusable. If you act in time and prevent further damage to the mirror, you’ll be able to continue using it.
There are plenty of home remedies you can try to use when fixing scratches and cracks on your mirror. Of course, you should always do some research and decide which one will suit your problem best, but you can also try a combination of them, depending on the situation.
When it comes to cracks, you can try out various remedies for smaller ones: a syringe filled with a resin solution is a traditional way to tackle this problem, especially when followed by a curing film on top.
Toothpaste is the main ingredient in one of the most tried and tested home remedies for cracked or scratched mirrors. This may seem outlandish, but toothpaste applied with a soft cloth to the mirror’s surface can polish and sand any minor imperfections. Toothpaste is also great for general maintenance and cleaning. Make sure to apply it carefully.
Nail polish is another traditional remedy for small scratches. Make sure to use only clear ones, and apply very carefully to the scratched area. If you see no improvement, add another few layers while making sure to wipe off any excess immediately before it sets.
If you have an older mirror, or if you’ve thrifted one, you may observe dark spots marring the surface of the mirror. This can take away from both the aesthetic and practical appeal of the mirror, but it doesn’t always require immediate replacement.
You should be advised that dark spots on mirrors can take time and patience to repair, but attempting to do the fix at home can lead to a great result. The most popular way to deal with them is by using aluminum foil, usually accompanied by a suitable adhesive like clear glue or tape. You will use strips of aluminum foil to cover the spots, fixing them with the adhesive.
Another thing you can try to repair dark spots is spray paint. There are many choices designed to have a mirror effect, and this affordable solution can save you a lot of time that you might otherwise spend on plastering aluminum foil over the mirror. This is an excellent solution if there’s not much damage and if the dark spots are on the clear side.
This issue will affect bathroom mirrors in particular, as it is frequently caused by an excess of moisture or even by frequent cleaning. The humidity will cause the edges of the mirror to darken until this can’t be ignored. This affects the silvering of the mirror, which is the coating that makes the surface reflective. It can also indicate an issue with the sealing.
This is an issue that can frequently result in calling for the services of a professional because the amount of time and effort it can take may seem like too much. If you’d like to tackle this issue to see if it can be repaired at home, these are the two most popular methods:
- Add a frame to your mirror: This can be a time-consuming process that will only work if the darkened parts are still contained to the edges of the surface, but it can be a helpful way of fixing the mirror and adding a personal touch.
- Resilver the mirror: This is a lengthy process that requires specific chemical solutions that will recoat the mirror’s surface. This method is the only way to fully eliminate the black edges from your mirror, but it is also the one that takes the most time and effort, especially if you’re doing it on your own.
If these methods fail, you should consider entirely replacing your mirror or contacting a professional to see if they can help save it.
Over time, the surface of a mirror can become cloudy and may remain in that state despite various efforts to clean it. This can also be caused by excessive moisture that slowly affects the silvering of the mirror, but there are various methods you can try to fix this issue before going on the hunt for a new one.
The usual cleaning sprays may not be enough to deal with this sort of cloudiness and the smudging that it entails. A simple solution is to mix the versatile white vinegar with water and then spray it onto the mirror after shaking it well. Diluting vinegar will produce a higher quantity of it than there is in cleaning products, but take care to ventilate the area after use.
Once you’ve sprayed the vinegar mix on, buff it along the mirror, preferably with a microfiber cloth to avoid any extra streaks. Take your time to cover the entire surface, let it dry, and then observe the result.
If that hasn’t worked to eliminate the cloudiness, grab your trusty spray bottle and go for another household staple: rubbing alcohol. Dilute the rubbing alcohol with a tiny bit of water, and then spray it directly onto the mirror. Buff it with a microfiber cloth or glove as you go. This should make your mirror shine like new.
Mirror Backing Replacement
As you’ve seen, most of the issues we’ve touched upon regarding mirror repairs have been related to a damaged mirror backing. To eliminate most of them, you can skip ahead to fixing the root of the issue and focusing on the mirror backing. This will help deal with problems that might affect the entire surface.
The backing can crack to the point of creating holes in the surface, which will need to be replaced. If the damage isn’t too widespread, you’ll be able to cover up the worst of it, but to prevent it from becoming unusable, you may have to contact a professional. If moisture and other elements continue to affect the surface, you won’t be able to repair the mirror enough.
If you notice a lot of damage related to the mirror backing, you should either attempt to replace the damaged parts of the backing or fully replace it as much as possible. This will help make your mirror last longer.
How to Resilver a Mirror
You’ve already seen that resilvering a mirror will solve many of your problems with it, but we’ve not gone into detail on how to do that. So let’s take a look at this process in more depth so you can become familiar with what’s involved.
Remove the Mirror Backing
Before you can proceed to the resilvering of the mirror, you’ll have to remove the backing. There are many kits for this on the market, but you’ll primarily need an industrial-grade paint remover. This will include enough solvent to get rid of the paint.
You can also use a paint stripper for this part of the process, but you’ll have to make sure it works with glass without damaging it.
Remove the Original Coating
Once you’ve removed the backing, the next step is to remove the original coat of silver that is most likely causing the problems you’re experiencing on the surface of the mirror. This will require the use of nitric acid. You should be careful when handling and disposing of nitric acid, as it can be quite toxic to the environment.
You should get a nitric acid that’s moderate to strong and refrain from diluting it with water. A diluted or weak nitric acid will be less effective on the original silver coating, so make sure to get the right one for the purpose. Remember to follow all safety procedures required when using chemicals. A respirator will usually be necessary.
Once the original coating is removed, you’ll come to one of the most essential parts in the process: an in-depth cleaning of the surface to prevent the appearance of blemishes in the resilvering. Any lingering debris, like particles of dust, will also interfere with the final bonding of the new silver coat.
Reapply the Silver Coating
After a thorough cleaning of the surface, you’ll proceed to the application of the new silver coating. If you have a kit to help you with this process, you’ll have silver nitrate in it and instructions on how to mix it. Once you’ve done so, you’ll have to set your mirror where it can remain steady during the application and then put your nitrate mix into a spray bottle.
You can spray the entire surface of the mirror with this mix, but make sure to apply an even coat across the area. You will have to wait between 24 and 48 hours for it to dry completely, at which point you’ll be able to observe how it has changed in color from clear to silver as it bonds with the glass.
If you’re wary of making your own silver nitrate mix, you can purchase a mirror spray that’s pre-mixed and ready to go. Apply it the same way, but keep an eye on the drying, as it can be quicker.
Seal the Silver Coating
After your new silver coating has dried, you can go ahead and seal it. To do this, you’ll usually use copper paint because it offers excellent protection for the silver. You can either purchase liquid copper paint or spray copper paint. They will both perform the task more than adequately, and you’ll have a lovely finish on the glass once it’s also dried.
Increase the Protection
For an added layer of protection to keep the silver safe, you can add grey paint on top after the copper paint has finished drying. This will fade into what you’ve already applied onto the surface while preserving the integrity of the silver coating. Before you admire the final product, make sure that the final layer has dried.
When to Go to a Pro
You can tackle many mirror repair jobs at home, but there will be cases where you’ll have to choose between throwing it in the trash or calling professionals for an expert opinion on the issue. You should never do a job on your mirror if you’re not absolutely sure of what it involves and how to go about it.
If you’re an amateur mirror restaurateur and don’t know how to proceed, make sure to check with a professional to get some advice. But, of course, you should also do that if you don’t have the time to dedicate to such an endeavor or don’t know how to handle the chemicals and steps necessary to fix the problem.
As a general rule, professionals have plenty of training to deal with these issues, and they will be able to solve your problems with more ease and usually more efficiently. If you’d rather opt for a quick solution and peace of mind, especially for a complex mirror repair, you should find a professional near you.
Only Use Mirrors As Designed to Avoid Repairs In the First Place
Now that you’re aware of the three main types of mirrors and how to fix them, you should also know how best to use mirrors to make the most of their effect in your household. This will impact problems that you’ll encounter in your mirrors, primarily based on use. It will also help you prevent other problems while making sure you get to enjoy them to the fullest.
Let’s look at some tips to make sure you get the best out of your mirrors so that you can maintain them accordingly, too. Besides just a bathroom mirror, there are plenty of other safe ways to use them that don’t risk causing damage:
If you’ve got a living room that’s on the cozy side, you should add the illusion of extra space to it with big statement mirrors. Floor-to-ceiling ones are particularly recommended if you’re looking to create space because the play between the reflection and the physical room will immediately make it seem more significant. They are also easier to install than mirrors up high, and easier installation means less risk of damage.
If you live in a place with long, dark winters or have small windows in specific rooms, you can use mirrors as the tricks up your sleeve to enhance the light in these spaces. Placing mirrors in front of light sources, particularly windows, will reflect the light across the room and make the most of natural light while it lasts.
You can also save on purchasing lamps. If you place a lamp across from a mirror, the light will reflect in it just like daylight through a window. This will enhance the light in the room and make it seem cozy and welcoming even at night or on rainy days. This is a great solution for basements and any space you might feel the need to illuminate more.
Use Them in the Best Locations
Being aware of the types of mirrors you have will not just help you with potential repairs but also with ideas for where to best place them. For example, the best type of mirror for bathrooms is the concave one. This type of spherical mirror enlarges the reflection, which makes it a great option in this location.
With a concave mirror in the bathroom, you won’t have to struggle to get a detailed reflection of your face; it will make shaving and skincare a breeze. Having to get too close to the mirror risks damaging it…and your face if you’re not careful. If you like to wear make-up, you won’t miss an inch with this type of mirror, and it will help you start your day without any extra struggles.
If you’re looking to make statements with the mirrors themselves, you should opt for eclectic pieces. These will add color, style, and a personal touch to the rooms without having to customize the entire space.
If you’re looking for mirrors with personality, you can always check out vintage options or even consider ordering custom-made pieces that will be made to your specifications and taste.
Can Old Mirrors Be Restored?
Old mirrors can be restored, even though it can take some time and attention. If you’ve found a gem of a mirror while browsing through vintage stores that needs some care, you’ll be able to provide that more often than not. Don’t give up on a particularly rare find if it is attractive to you. Below, we’ll guide you through some tips that can help you on the occasion of finding a tremendous old mirror.
Tips to Restore Old Mirrors
Old mirrors need plenty of maintenance, especially if you’re looking to restore them after they’ve languished in shops or spent time in storage. There are some things to keep an eye on when dealing with restoring old mirrors:
- Plan as much as possible. From the moment you encounter the old mirror you want to restore, check everything twice when it comes to organization.
- Once you start the process, you should clean the surface as attentively as you can.
- If it’s particularly expensive or a one-of-a-kind antique, you should always seek some professional advice before proceeding to restoration, especially if there’s an issue with the glass.
- If the frame needs to be repaired, you’ll first have to remove the glass and then give it an in-depth cleaning. You can then use filler, if necessary, on any damage along the frame that has changed its appearance.
- Knowing that you can restore most mirrors will make your life easier, and you can proceed to do antique mirror collecting. You won’t usually have much work to do for a mirror that comes from a dealership.
Repairing mirrors can be a daunting task, but one that you can undertake on your own more often than you’d think as long as you’re well-prepared and aware that you should call a professional if the situation requires one. Also, you should do as much research as possible on what you need to achieve with your mirror repair.
Once you have the necessary information on what you need to do with your mirror, you should follow the process that usually goes with that issue. You can do many things at home without needing outside help, from antique restoration to resilvering and everything in between.