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Compare Backing Paints

Finding the right household paint to protect your mirror coating could be a matter of trial and error. The chart at the bottom of this page lists important characteristics of our mirror backing paints.

Why you should use mirror backing paint:

  • Untested paints can contain chemicals that will tarnish the mirror over time.
  • Mirror backing paints are carefully formulated to preserve the mirror coating.
  • Most paints are flexible. Mirror backing paints are brittle. When you cut the glass or peel off a mask the paint breaks cleanly.

Using Mastic

Our backing paints are air dried. Mirror mastic is designed to be used on factory-applied baked on backing paints. The fumes emitted by mirror mastic as it cures can create shadows or ghost images on mirrors that do not have baked on backing paint. Please see our page on Mirror Mastic for our solution to this problem.


Old timers used shellac under the backing paint to protect perfect silver mirrors. We do not recommend shellac for copper or galena mirror because it discolors these metals over time. Mirror Undercoat is a primer designed to be used on perfect silver and gold mirrors. Standard shellac bends and peels when you cut the mirrored glass. Mirror Undercoat does not.

Antique silver mirrors

  • Black mirror backing paint makes an antique silver mirror more dramatic
  • Gray backing paint makes a perfect silver mirror slightly more brilliant
  • Gilsonite asphaltum gives an antique silver mirror a wonderful golden-brown tone

How to dry blown glass sculptures

Blown glass sculptures with long thin areas, curved points and narrow openings can take a long time to dry. You can try this technique to speed up the process.

  1. Rinse the newly mirrored surface with distilled water.
  2. Drain out as much water as possible.
  3. Pour in a moderate amount of acetone. The acetone will displace the water and tend to drive it out.
  4. Rotate to cover all the surfaces with acetone.
  5. Set the container open side down to allow the acetone/water mix to drain out completely.
  6. Allow time for all the acetone and water to dry before lacquering the surface. Any moisture trapped under the lacquer can discolor the mirror over time.

WARNING: Acetone is FLAMMABLE! Do not use near an open flame, spark, electrical hot plate or any other source of ignition.

Paint Comparison Chart

 Black Mirror
Backing Paint
Roll Coat
Roll Coat
Century White
Century Clear
Paint Color Flat Black Flat Black Medium Gray Opaque White Colorless Colorless Dark Brown
Abrasion Resistance High High High Medium High High Low
Chemical Resistance High High High Medium High High Moderate
Water Proof Moderate High High Moderate Moderate High High
Clean Breaking Yes Yes Yes Moderate Moderate No Yes
Drying Time Fast Fast Fast Fast Fast Fast Slow
Settles in Can Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Odor Low High High Moderate Moderate High Low
Solvent Mineral Spirits Xylene Xylene Lacquer Thinner Lacquer Thinner Lacquer Thinner Mineral Spirits
Clean Up Mineral Spirits Mineral Spirits Mineral Spirits Acetone Acetone Lacquer Thinner Mineral Spirits

Chemical resistance refers to the ability of the dry paint film to stand up to other mirroring chemicals, mirror removers and soldering flux.

Clean breaking refers to the brittleness of the dry paint film; whether the paint breaks or peels when you cut the mirror.