How To Restore Antique Mirrors

Mirrors are a great way to decorate one’s home, and are also functional pieces of home furnishings. Some mirrors simply give your reflection. Some mirrors, especially antique ones, are often family heirlooms that are usually passed on from generation to generation. These will usually tell of history and experience. Antique mirrors often appeal to people, particularly with their enticing and intriguing design. In order to keep that enticing quality you must learn how to restore your antique mirror.

  • Clean the glass. The first step in restoring an antique mirror is cleaning. Wash the glass thoroughly with warm soap and water. You can also use industrial-grade glass cleaner if the glass is stained. This will sometimes be enough to bring the mirror back to a pristine state. However, should simple cleaning be inadequate, you can restore the mirror with a little paint refresh.
  • Repaint the frame. The frame defines the entire form of your antique mirror. Repainting the frame will help restore the mirror’s appearance. Before doing any sanding or finishing, be sure to tape off the glass with masking tape and some old newspaper. Before painting, you will need to sand off the existing paint or varnish. Use rough-grit sandpaper for the first sanding, and fine-grit sandpaper for final sanding, and to sand difficult-to-reach spots.

    For the first layer use a primer on the frame and let dry. Then, spray a new layer of paint on the second layer. Make sure to use the proper type of paint or finish, which will depend on the original finish of material your frame is made of.

  • Re-silver the mirror. Re-silvering is the process of replacing the reflective material behind the mirror’s glass. For antique mirrors it would be best to hire a professional to do a re-silvering job for you. Otherwise you can also purchase a re-silvering kit at a home improvement or hardware store, if you are fond of do-it-yourself work.
  • Replace the mirror. If re-silvering proves to be expensive or too difficult, you can simply restore the frame and just replace the mirror. As long as the frame is maintained, then you can maintain the value of the antique mirror.

    When restoring woodwork, make sure you wear the proper safety gear, especially if you’re using finishes like varnish and paints. Wear a face mask and goggles to prevent irritation and inhalation of the paint fumes. Make sure you are working outdoors or in an adequately-ventilated area. You will also need to take extra care when handling glass, as broken shards can cause serious injury.

Antique mirrors are often treated as family heirlooms, which are passed on from generation to generation. The value of antiques usually lies in the state of repair of the item. Give your mirror a refreshing restoration job, to enhance its value and prolong its life. This will make the antique mirror an even more valuable piece of furniture, which will go well with any house or living space. You can also restore antique mirrors for extra income, like if you are selling or auctioning antique materials.


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