Re-Silvering Old Mirrors

Click to enlarge photo
We are not specialists in re-silvering old mirrors. We include this page to answer some of your questions and give you a few tips.

It is sometimes possible to re-silver a small section on an otherwise perfect mirror. The best you will get is a black line between the old silver and the new. We offer absolutely no guarantees for this process.

Repairing Scratches:

In the photo above we re-silvered the scratch on the left and then painted it with "mirror repair" silver paint. We painted the scratch on the right with the same silver paint without re-silvering it. Both scratches are still visible.
  1. For this process you will need a Mini Silver Kit and Extra Fine Pumice.
  2. Polish the scratch with a paste of distilled water and pumice to smooth the edges.
  3. Follow our Mini Silver Kit Instructions to clean, tin and silver the scratch. You can always add a second layer of silver on top of the first layer.
  4. Protect the new silver with Black Mirror Backing Paint (included in the Kit) or silver "mirror repair" paint.

How To Re-Silver an Old Mirror:

To re-silver an old mirror properly, you must remove it from its frame, strip it down to plain glass and clean the old glass very, very thoroughly.
  1. Use Multi-Strip and plastic scraper to remove the backing paint.
  2. Use our Mirror Removers and cotton balls to dissolve the silver and copper (if your silver has a copper backing).
  3. Use our Sheet Glass Mirroring Kit to re-silver the glass. You may need to build a large mirroring bench to accomodate your glass.
The alternative to re-silvering your old glass is to remove all of the silver and paint and then buy a new mirror cut to size and place it behind the old glass in the same frame.

If your old mirror is large and/or valuable, look in your local, printed Yellow Pages under "Mirrors" or "Glass" for a re-silvering service or ask your local glass store for a recommendation. Not all local craftsmen have websites and many of them are too busy to advertise.

Reasons Not To Re-Silver an Old Mirror:

  • When you take an old mirror out of its frame, you run the risk of breaking and/or scratching the glass and further damaging the backing paint.
  • Scratches and other imperfections in the glass are more visible when the silver is bright and new.
  • If you can feel the scratch with your fingernail, you can not remove it by hand polishing. Machine polishing can distort the glass and hence the reflection.
  • Antique mirrors are very popular - see Antiquing Mirrors

Tips on Cleaning an Old Mirror:

  • Clean the mirror face by spraying glass cleaner on an old towel or T-shirt and then wiping the glass. Water is the enemy of mirrors. Do not spray the cleaner directly on the glass.
  • Never use a dust cloth or vacuum to remove the dust from the back of an old mirror. Leave it dusty. The integrity of the silver depends on the integrity of the backing paint. Suction and friction can loosen the backing paint and expose the silver to further corrosion.

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