Choosing the right mirror

All kinds of things have been used to make mirrors throughout history, from pools of water to polished stones, copper and brass, to the most widely used today – mirrored glass.

Mirrored glass is made by taking flat glass and coating one side with a reflective coating, which is mostly made from silver, it’s usually then painted over multiple times.

After the coating process is finished the large sheet of mirrored, or silver glass, is then processed in the same way as any other glass. It can be cut down to size and the edges can be processed in a number of ways, from simply removing the sharp edge (arrissing), flat polishing or bevelling.

There are a couple of guidelines to follow when choosing the right mirror. The following guidelines are my recommendations, based on the Australian Standards for mirrors in buildings.

What thickness of mirror should I use?

  • Use 3mm if the mirror is less than 1 square meter
  • Use 4mm if the mirror under 2 square meters
  • Use 6mm if the mirror is bigger than 2 square meters or if you would simply like the look of a thicker mirror.

What if my mirror is in a wet area? For example, a bathroom, laundry or next to a pool/spa?

According to the Australian Standards mirrors that are to be used in a wet area must be either vinyl backed or completely adhered to a surface, this means if the mirror breaks all the pieces are held together. I will do a how to install mirrors page soon.

Different types of mirror
Although most mirrors are on clear glass, mirrored glass comes in a range of colours like grey, bronze, green and blue.

Mirrored splashbacks

Recently mirrored splashbacks have started to be used  in kitchens and bathrooms, however, it can’t be ordinary or toughen mirror. The heat process that is used to temper, or toughen, ordinary glass ruins the silver coating and this type of mirror also cracks when exposed to heat during use.

The way around this is to use one-way mirror glass, as it has a special coating that reflects light – this coating can survive the toughening process. After the glass is toughened a special glass paint is applied to the coated side of the glass. The end product is a piece of glass very close to a standard mirror, this toughened mirror usually looks a bit darker than standard mirror and can also have slight imperfections that come from the toughening process.

Edgework on mirrors
The edges of mirrored glass, like any glass, can be processed in a number of ways, or if the mirror is to be framed, the edges can be left raw (sharp).

  • Arris: The easiest and usually cheapest way to finish the edge of a mirror is called arrissing, this is a process done on a vertical wet belt sanding machine, it simply removes the sharp edge.
  • Flat grind: This is usually done on a big machine called a straight line edger, it is a perfectly flat edge with a slight chamfer on the corners, it has a matt finish.
  • Flat polish: A flat polish is also done on a straight line edger and it is a highly polished edge that shines in the light.
  • Bevelling: Beveling is the process of grinding from the edge into the face of the glass/mirror, it can be done at different measurements from 5mm to 30mm, after grinding the edge is then highly polished, giving the mirror the appearance of a silver border, beveling is very expensive, it also weakens the edge of the mirror by making it thinner.

Thank you for reading all about mirrors, I’ll go into more detail in future posts and will also provide some tips on installing mirrors yourself.

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