Mirror, Mirror on the...door- How long till you make us all look fat?
August 29, 2016 3:36 PM   Subscribe

I found out too late that mirrors of less than 1/4" thickness tend to give distorted reflections after a while. I really wish I knew this before I purchased three of them.

I recently had installed three mirrors that are 6.5 feet tall and 3/16" thick. They are all glued to the backs of doors. My neighbor had two mirrors of the same thickness but free-standing. He tells me the reflection gets distorted after a while if the mirror is not thick enough and that's why his free-standing mirrors made everyone look fat. Great. Just dandy. It's always fun to know you've spent good money on something that's eventually going to make you look fat.

So my questions are: How long can I expect these 3/16" mirrors of mine to last? If I eventually have to replace them how can I make sure to get mirrors that will remain undistorted as long as possible? Is it just about thickness?
posted by olivetree to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Mirrors make you look fat two ways: A) you're fat, or B) the mirror is getting convex on the left-right axis, i.e. the centerline (a vertical line) of the mirror is farther from the door than the left and right edges.

I've never heard of mirror distortion changing over time like that, and am not sure why it would but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. You can try deforming the mirror yourself so that it's flat, or maybe even a little concave, which would be a "skinny mirror."
posted by Sunburnt at 3:44 PM on August 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Well, ideally I'd like it to be a reality mirror. Not a skinny or fat one. It looks accurate now, but now sure now how long it will last.
posted by olivetree at 4:00 PM on August 29, 2016

I went searching for the source of your neighbor's data and here is what I found:

If you want the truth (can you handle the truth?), invest in a strong, thick mirror that is less likely to bend under its own weight. Some experts contend that a high-quality 1/4-inch thick plate glass mirror is a better choice than a thinner, 3/16" thick mirror because it will be less prone to distortion.

It shouldn't make a difference if you have a cheval mirror (a long mirror that is fixed to a frame that stands on the floor) or a wall-mounted floor mirror. The key is that the actual glass itself is not bent or warped in any way. However, simply leaning a bare, unframed floor mirror up against the wall may make it more likely to bend and, therefore, more likely to distort your image.

A mirror glued to the back of a door seems much, much less likely to bend than your neighbor's freestanding mirror, so I think you'll be okay.
posted by acidic at 4:05 PM on August 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

You could reinforce the mirror with some horizontal braces attached firmly (glued, probably) across the back of the mirror so it can't bend. Sheet metal might be overkill, but some hard plastic strips attached to the back in a horizontal fashion should do the job.

I just have no idea why a mirror would change over time unless it has to do with how the attachments to the door are being worked b the movement of the door.
posted by Sunburnt at 4:30 PM on August 29, 2016

If your mirror is mounted firmly to the back of your door, it should not bend and you will have no problems.
posted by ssg at 4:31 PM on August 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Being fat isn't the worst thing on the planet, first of all. Second, it's not like the mirror would add rolls of fat, you'd just look wider. And thirdly, since you appear to believe that fatness is inferior, it should comfort you to know that you're always smaller than you appear in that mirror. It's like a buffer!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:18 PM on August 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

Since the mirror is glued to the door, the only way it's going to bend/distort is if the door itself is bending/distorting.

You're fine.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:39 AM on August 30, 2016

I notice that people are talking about you looking fatter as if the mirror is going to expand you horizontally (convex horizontal). Gravity is a vertical force, the bend will be a vertical bend, making the mirror slightly concave vertically, making you look shorter and the same width. Still proportionally fatter, but a different vector.

The way to prevent this is to prevent vertical bending by, for example, gluing it to a door. Congratulations, it's fixed!
posted by aimedwander at 8:07 AM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah. Glued to a door, the mirror cannot bend without the door also bending. Your mirrors are effectively about an inch and a half thick, not three sixteenths of an inch. Don't worry about it.

Also, I have never heard of this being a thing. Mirrors, being glass, do not like to bend much and are generally supported by either a frame or a wall/door to protect them and stop them from shattering under their own weight. Even if just hung from the top rather than supported continuously, the weight of the mirror should pull straight down in a way that would actually help keep it straight. The only way I can think of to get a mirror to bend would be to mount it from the bottom only, so that it wants to fall over.

I think your neighbor has the wrong end of the stick here. Is it possible that they gained weight and are blaming it on their mirrors? That is a thing I have heard of, unlike bendy mirror syndrome.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:18 AM on August 30, 2016

I suppose a thin mirror that is just mounted at the corners could sag, or slump, making it slightly convex and stretching out the reflection heightwise. This is just to rephrase what others have already said.

For the record, those thin, frameless mirrors are definitely capable of bending, as you find out when you take it out of the packaging and prepare to mount it. But when it's upright this is minimized. And-- if it's glued to a stiff wood door I don't see it happening at all.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 4:37 PM on August 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

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