Discolorations and gray marks can add charm and character to an old mirror, but a well worn look is not always desirable, especially if it is not old. Mirrors are not made of a magical material with reflective properties. A quality one is made of high-grade glass with silver backing, and it is the backing that makes the glass reflective. When the silver backing is damaged, the discolorations, marks, and scratches are evident and can ruin the look of a beautiful piece of furniture or the design of a room. It is possible to resilver a mirror and make it look as good as new, and this process is worth the effort if the mirror is old, beveled, or if it has great sentimental value.
Before beginning, precautionary statements are located on product packaging, and the instructions should be read in their entirety. If not followed carefully the mirror can end up permanently damaged or broken. It is best to work with an assistant when handling large mirrors during repair. If steps are carefully followed, kits to resilver mirrors are a fantastic alternative to costly professional services. These tips can help you repair antique mirrors, beveled edged mirrors and more! Here's how.
Determine if it is practical to resilver the mirror. Bathroom mirrors that are flush with the wall and meet the backsplash of the sink often become damaged because they come in contact with water and chemical cleaners. Although these mirrors are usually large it is not worth the time and expense to resilver them. On the other hand, antique and beveled mirrors are worth the time and expense required to resilver them - if the glass is in good condition.
Inspect the glass for damage. It is important to thoroughly inspect the glass before deciding to resilver a mirror. When the silvering of a mirror is damaged, scratches, gouges, and chips in mirrors are sometimes not apparent. Carefully inspect the edges as well as the surface of the glass before you decide to invest in supplies to resilver it. View it up close from various angles and in various levels of light, and look for surface damage. Resilver damaged glass and the glass will still appear damaged. The damage might even look more apparent than ever.
Purchase supplies to resilver. Kits to resilver mirrors are available online and in some home improvement stores. The kits generally contain everything needed, and the label will specify the size the amount of products in the kit can resilver. The kits are not cheap, but using a kit is a great way to learn the process. Consider attempting to resilver a small inexpensive mirror before tackling a larger project. This will enable you to decide if you like the results before you resilver a valued heirloom or something you would not want to risk damaging.
Strip off the old painted backing. Turn any mirror over and you will notice a dull painted backing. This is not the material used to silver or resilver glass. It is a protective paint used to cover the finished piece. The layer against the silver is copper, and the other is backing paint. It will be necessary to strip away the old painted backing before getting started, and commercial strippers are available for this purpose. Check your kit to see if everything is included, or visit a local home improvement store or craft retailer, and ask for paint stripper that can be used on glass.
Strip the silver. Once the painted backing has been removed it is necessary to strip away the old silver using nitric acid. This will also be included in a complete kit. Follow instructions on the product for best results, and wear safety goggles and gloves to prevent skin or eye irritation or injury.
Clean and polish the glass. After the glass has been completely stripped it will require cleaning and polishing before you resilver it with new material. While wearing a clean pair of powder-free latex gloves, clean the glass using deionized water and a lint-free cloth. This will get rid of any smudges or fingerprints before the next step.
Spray the glass with silver backing. Special sprayers are available to resilver mirrors. Combine the silver nitrate included in the kit with the necessary chemicals that are also included. The combination of the chemicals will enable the silver nitrate to stick to the glass. The mixture will look clear, but after it is sprayed on it will turn silver as it dries. It is easiest to complete this process if the glass is secured by a sturdy easel.
Coat the silver with copper paint. Unbeknownst to many, copper is also used in the process to resilver mirrors. Check the resilver kit for copper paint, and apply it according to product label instructions. Once the copper dries it will be covered with another protective backing.
Apply a new painted backing. The last step to resilver a mirror is the application of a painted backing. The paint should also be included in the kit. Apply it as directed, and allow it to dry completely before handling or hanging. If the glass is in good condition, and if product directions were carefully followed, the mirror should look like new.
With these tips you now know how to resilver a mirror. After you successfully resilver one mirror, you might decide you want to do more. It can be worth the time and expense to do this repair, and a mirror that would have otherwise spoil the look of a piece of furniture or a wall can look as beautiful as ever.
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