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Clever Ways With Mirrors

May 5, 2008
Mirrors aren't just for looking in - they can make a small room seem spacious and a dark room much lighter. There are more types than you might think, and fixing presents few problems.

When you consider that extra lights entail new wiring, and that creating space often means knocking down walls, the ease with which you can fix up mirrors begins to look doubly appealing.

There's a wide choice of types and fixing methods - all of them easy and you don't need specialist tools. Just take your pick.

Glass mirrors

Traditional mirrors are made of glass with a silvered backing. These are easy to find in the shops and although there are only a few standard sizes sold, glass merchants may well stock larger sheets and be prepared to cut any size you want but perhaps with a maximum size of about 3.6mX2.4m. At the same time they can smooth the edges and even put a bevel on them. Remember that glass mirrors are heavy - one 1m square and 6mm thick weighs about 30kg.

It's best to buy mirrors the exact size you want as glass mirror cutting is not something that can easily be tackled at home. If you want to fix a mirror to the wall using screws you can either drill the holes yourself or get them done when you buy; some standard mirrors can be supplied pre-drilled.

If you want a ready framed mirror to use as a looking glass your choice of style, shape and colour is wide. Many sorts of shop stock them - including antique dealers. When buying an old mirror, bear in mind that re-silvering is not a do-it-yourself job.

Alternatives to glass

A much newer type of mirror is made of plastic - usually acrylic - with a silvered backing. Its main advantage over glass is that it is easy to cut and drill without any special equipment. It is also rather lighter than glass so is somewhat easier to handle.

Plastic mirrors are often suitable for fixing to weak partition walls which might not be able to bear the weight of glass. But acrylic materials do scratch easily (though light marks will polish out with an abrasive polish) and the reflection may not be as perfect as that from a glass mirror.

In a bathroom, mirrored polystyrene is a particularly useful type. It consists of a metalized polyester film attached to a white polystyrene sheet and - like all plastic mirrors - will be less prone to steaming up than a glass mirror. The reflection will not be perfect but the material is very light and can be cut using a saw. Mail order plastics suppliers have mirrored polystyrene in their catalogues - there's a range of sizes.

Take care when using plastic mirrors backed with chipboard - unless sealed, the chipboard may swell in a damp atmosphere, such as in a bathroom.
About the Author
James Holdinski writes about Trend T11 - Gordon Warre writes about Trend T11 Router - Blackpool
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