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How to Protect Your Mirrors from Wear and Scratches

How to Protect Your Mirrors from Wear and Scratches - House of Mirrors - Mirrors and Glass Calgary

At House of Mirrors and Glass, we like to think of mirrors as wonderous pieces of art. There’s a sort of magic to them, how they make even the most cramped bathroom feel bright and spacious, and they lend elegance and class to any room. Mirrors are versatile, practical, and you can never go wrong by using mirrors to decorate your home. However, it can be extremely frustrating to find one of your favourite mirrors has been scratched or is beginning to blacken along the edge. 

Fortunately, classic antique mirrors clearly demonstrate that it is entirely possible to protect your mirror from time, ensuring it continues to look beautiful for decades or centuries.

Cracks & Scratches are the most common type of wear and tear on mirrors and glass. They vary from super fine scratches (which can only be seen when the light hits the mirror the right way and can’t be felt with a fingernail) to extreme cracks, which may cause injury. 

Fine scratches are generally the result of poor cleaning practices. Using the wrong materials (such as paper towels or non-glass safe cleaners) can lead to minute scratches along the surface of your mirror or glass. Larger cracks are usually the result of trauma to the surface. Pets and children are common culprits, and they should be kept away from mirrors and other glass surfaces.

Repairing Minor Scratches.

There are a couple options for DIY repair of minor scratches. Using a new, soft toothbrush, you can buff the area using a dab of toothpaste. Toothpastes contain small amounts of mild abrasives, like hydrated silica or calcium carbonate, which help to rub away stains and debris on your teeth. These same abrasives are able to gently buff the surface of your mirror, making the scratch invisible. Be gentle as you buff, or you could accidentally create new scratches. 

Another option is to use a clear nail polish to fill and protect the scratch. Clean the affected area thoroughly using a lint-free, microfiber cloth and a glass-safe cleaner. Then apply a very thin coat of clear nail polish to the scratch. Allow the polish to dry slightly, then use your microfiber cloth to wipe away any excess polish.

Once you’ve repaired (or replaced)  your mirror, carefully look through your cleaners to be certain that they are all glass-safe. Ensure everyone who cleans the mirrors knows to only use microfiber cloths on its surface and to apply the cleaner to the cloth rather than to the mirror, to protect the mirror from rot.

Mirror Rot occurs when moisture and air begins to oxidate (rust/tarnish) the silver nitrate that makes your mirror reflective. In a well maintained mirror, a layer of copper sulfate and a coat of paint seal the silver, preventing oxygen from reaching the reflective metal within. However, improper cleaning practice (e.g. applying glass cleaner directly to the mirror rather than indirectly via a microfiber cloth) can slowly breakdown these protective coatings, and leave the silver nitrate exposed. Once air and moisture can reach the silver, they chemically react to turn the silver an ugly, black colour.

Framing a Blackened Mirror.

Fortunately, the protective coating rarely degrades much beyond the first inch or two of the mirror’s edge. Therefore, mirror rot is usually fairly contained and can be hidden behind a frame. Choose a heavier frame to ensure that blacken tarnish won’t peak out, even if the mirror rot grows another inch or so further. 

With proper care, mirrors are able to remain stunning for centuries. If one of your mirrors requires a substantial repair or needs to be replaced, the glass and mirror experts at House of Mirrors and Glass are here to help. Call us today at (403) 253-3777.