Repairing the mirrors on my mirrored vanity?
September 19, 2019 10:49 AM   Subscribe

I have an old little vanity table that I'd like to repair.

It has black spots on the edges of the mirrors and in various other places on the mirrors. In some spots it's transparent (the top isn't glued on anymore so I slid it off its base and I could see my finger through it) but also because the mirror part is eroded there's the black stuff exposed.

I'd like to fix it if it wouldn't be too difficult. I think there's a spray of mirrored stuff I can buy? How does that work? What happens to the places where the black backing is showing? What is that black stuff, anyway, and how does it relate to the mirror surface?

Any advice much appreciated!
posted by DMelanogaster to Home & Garden (2 answers total)
 
Older mirrors use a silvering process, where a solution of silver is painted onto the mirror, then lacquered to seal it and prevent tarnish. Re-silvering is the process of refinishing old mirrors, but the process produces toxic by-products, and is getting hard to find. Look for "mirror reslivering service" in your area - but be warned it's not cheap!
I don't know of another way to 'fix' an old mirror like that, reliably. Others might.
posted by dbmcd at 11:07 AM on September 19, 2019


So the easiest fix I've tried for this (other than outright resilvering) is stripping the silver backing from the mirror and putting a thin new mirror that has been cut to the same shape behind the glass once it is clean. You can also just replace the mirror itself, but there is a slight color and glass transparency issue without the old glass. Also lining the clean glass with a new mirror saves any etching or decoration. A new mirror cut like this in Chicago runs around 10-20 bucks a square foot, so it isn't cheap if the mirror is big. You also have to account for the space the new glass takes up. The last time I looked into resilvering it was going to be US$ 30 a sq. ft.

If you wanted something that looked really antique, you could totally strip it and then use silver leaf and gelatin (I am sure there is a tutorial on Youtube), but that is a look that is older and much more rustic than you probably want.

I've not had luck trying to resilver a mirror myself - I can never get the setup, texture, and technique right and it looks bad and cheap. You could try to use a metallic silver spray paint, but the finish is already starting to oxidize and fail and you may end up with a bigger and uglier mess than you bargained for.

As it is, I take a cue from my grandma at this point and have just started letting my mirrors age with me.
posted by Tchad at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2019 [3 favorites]


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