Plate mirrors are the most common mirrors used over vanities. They are available in stock sizes for the budget conscious, or can be custom cut to fill the wall space and include holes for lights and outlets to go through them. Plate mirrors are also used in exercise rooms and other areas where a full expanse of mirror is desired. They can be fit to tiled borders, as well as wood frames or other materials. They are also used over backsplashes in bar areas and kitchens, as well as the back of niches. They can be fit to door frames such as medicine cabinets, or to the backs and sides of furniture items such as display cases.
Types of Plate Mirrors
Our plate mirrors have three components: the glass, the silvering, and the protective coating for the silvering. Changes to any of these gives our customers some unique options for their decorating needs. Clear, bronze, grey, black, and blue glass can all be used to give the mirror color. The silvering can be perfect, or it can be mottled or speckled to give the mirror an antique aesthetic. Finally, there are differences in the protective coatings used on mirrors that can affect longevity.
A colored mirror is just tinted glass that has been silvered. Since float glass is used in the manufacturing of distortion free plate mirrors, the colors are limited to the most common float glass tints.
- Clear Mirror - Offers the greatest reflectance with limited color distortion. It is always used for vanities where clarity is important.
- Bronze Mirror - This mirror has a slight brown tint, because it uses bronze glass. The reflectance is high, but it is less than that of clear mirror. This mirror is usually used for atmosphere and is commonly seen in behind bar counters and shelving displays, or over backsplashes.
- Grey Mirror - This mirror has a grey tint, because it uses grey glass. The reflectance is high, but less than that of clear mirror. This mirror is used for the same applications as bronze mirror, but whether grey or bronze mirror is used depends on the colors of the room as well as the customer's personal preference.
- Black Mirror - This mirror has a dark grey tint and uses a glass called greylite #14. The reflectance is low, about half that of clear. The reflected image is similar to what one may see wearing sunglasses just before dusk.
- Blue Mirror - This mirror has a blue tint.
- Antique Mirrors
- Silver Backing
After the silver is deposited on the glass a protective layer is added to prevent the silver from oxidizing. Standard mirrors achieve this by having a layer of copper cover the silver, and then a special mirror backing paint to cover the copper. However, copper backed mirrors are still susceptible to degradation when the edges of the mirrors are in contact with water or cleaning solutions. Typically this occurs at the bottom edge, especially if the mirror is resting on a surface that can wick moisture to the back of the mirror and entrap it. This is known as blackedging.
Copper-free backings are now possible because of modern manufacturing capabilities. We purchase the majority of our stock and sheet mirrors from Guardian. Guardian manufactures both standard mirrors and copper-free UltraMirror®, and all the mirrors we purchase from them is UltraMirror.
Our plate mirrors are available in three thicknesses: 1/8", 3/16", and 1/4". We recommend using the thickest mirror possible for any particular application. A thicker mirror will have more rigidity and strength than a thinner mirror, which is important to minimize flexing. Even slight flexing of a mirror will give a distorted reflection, and this is especially true in large mirrors. For this reason we always use 1/4" mirror over vanities and for mirrored walls. However, mirror is heavy and sometimes a thinner mirror is necessary when a thicker mirror would be too heavy. Furthermore, frames and other limitations sometimes prevent the use of thicker mirrors.
The size of the mirrors are limited by the size of the sheet we can get, and as is most often the case, the restrictions of the jobsite such as staircases, hallway turns, and door openings.
- Gunther Clips
Installing mirrors with Gunther clips is our standard method for stock size vanity and door mirrors. They provide a mechanical support that firmly secures the mirror to the wall. Future removal of the mirror is simple, and there is no damage to the wall except for the screw holes. Our Gunther clips are available in polished chrome and brass, with most people preferring the chrome because they are less noticeable.
- Mirror Mastic
Mirrors can be installed with mirror adhesive for a cleaner look. This installation is preferred by most people, especially with custom cut-to-fit mirrors. Glueing is also sometimes the only option for use in furniture items such as the back of a grandfather clock. It would also be unsightly to use anything other than glue for mirrored backsplashes or niches. However, glueing a mirror is a more permanent solution than mechanically fastening it to the wall. Removal of the mirror for remodeling or other reasons would require much more effort. There is a possibility the mirror will break, which can be dangerous if the mirror is large enough. If installed on drywall the mastic is so strong it will remain stuck to the mirror and take part of the paper coating of the drywall with it. This is only cosmetic damage, but would require some patching by the homeowner if a new mirror will not be covering it up.
Please note, the mirror needs to be physically supported until the glue cures, which takes about 24 hours. The mirrors should not be solely supported by mirror mastic. A glued mirror should either rest on a backsplash or have a channel or little lip to support the majority of the weight. There is a possibility that the bond between the adhesive and the wall can degrade in time, depending on environmental conditions, the quality of the wall surface, a bad tube of mastic, or other factors. This is a rare occurance, but it can happen. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that any adhesive used should specifically indicate use for mirrors. Adhesives have chemicals in them that can react with the mirror backing, either showing up in time as black spots in the mirror or even glue failure.
J-channel is screwed to the wall, and can be used along the bottom only (if mirror is glued as well), along the top and bottom, or around the perimeter for a framed look. J-channel is most commonly used for mirroring an expanse of wall such as in an exercise room. Using J-channel along the top and bottom allows us to set small neoprene blocks in the bottom channel and install the mirrors as "lift and drop". This gives us more flexibility in making certain the mirrors butt together properly. It also provides a very clean, finished look for any mirrored wall when the j-channel goes around the entire perimeter and matches the finish of fixtures in the room.