Mirror Quality: What Really Matters

Mirror Quality What Really Matters

To select a high-quality mirror, you should consider the following 6 factors: the quality of the glass, thickness, mirror flatness, types of reflection coating, types of protective layer, and backing materials. 

In this article, we will introduce the factors one by one and give you some advice in the meantime.

Glass Quality (Glass Purity)

glass purity comparison
Glass Purity Comparison

The glass quality is crucial in determining how accurate and clear the reflection will be. When selecting a mirror, it’s important to consider the following factors that can affect the quality of the glass:

  • Purity of raw materials: The quality of the glass depends largely on the purity of the materials used in manufacturing. The purer the raw materials, the clearer and more flawless the reflection.
  • Uniformity and evenness of the glass surface: A high-quality mirror glass is free from inconsistencies that distort the reflection. Look for a glass with an even, uniform surface, as these imperfections can seriously affect how you see yourself in the mirror.

Distortions (Glass Flatness)

glass distortion
Glass Distortion

First, let’s talk about how to identify distortions in your mirror. There are a couple of methods you can try:

  1. Checking for flatness of the mirror surface: Place a straight edge, like a ruler, on the mirror’s surface and look for gaps or warping. A high-quality mirror should have a flat surface to ensure a clear reflection.
  2. Moving your head to view an object’s reflection from different angles: Choose an object in the mirror and move your head so that you view it from one corner to another. If the image changes, that’s a sign of distortions in the mirror.

Now that you know how to identify distortions, why do they matter when considering mirror quality? Well, distortions can impact:

  • Clarity of reflections: A distorted mirror can make it difficult to see objects clearly, which defeats the purpose of a mirror.
  • Visual aesthetic: Distorted mirrors can create an undesirable appearance, making your space look less polished and well-put-together.

Mirror Thickness (Glass Thickness)

common glass thickness
Common Glass Thickness

Thickness matters. 

Thin glass mirrors are vulnerable to distortion caused by their own weightiness, while thicker glass mirrors are more sturdier. Warp or distortion is more seen in large-sized mirrors.

  • For mirrors between 24 and 48 inches wide, a thickness of 3/16 inch (4.8mm) is generally preferred. These mirrors are commonly used in bedrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms. 
  • For larger mirrors over 48 inches wide, the standard thickness is 1/4 inch (6mm). These thicker mirrors are ideal for maintaining the reflection quality even on slightly uneven walls.

Reflective Coating

Mercury, aluminum, and silver are common materials as reflective layers for mirrors. They can get the same reflective effect under nowadays technologies.

But silver mirrors are recognized as the best solution for up-class mirrors because mercury is harmful to humans even if a little bit uptake by mistake, and aluminum is apt to oxidation

There are a few key indicators that can help you determine the quality of a mirror’s silvering:

  1. Thickness of the coating: A thicker coating of silver layer on the glass generally results in a better-quality mirror. Make sure to ask about the thickness when purchasing a mirror.
  2. Sealer: A high-quality mirror will have a layer of sealer to protect the reflective coating from moisture and tarnishing.

Protective Layer

mirror protective layer
Mirror Protective Layer

Above the reflective coating layer, manufacturers will usually add another layer to protect the coating layer from moisture and oxidation.

This layer comes with different materials due to different costs or applications. 

But remember to choose lead and cooper-free mirrors.

Old workmanship adopts materials containing red lead, which is hazardous and restricted by EU directives. Some materials contain copper which will make the protective layer itself vulnerable to oxidation.

The latest generation adopts ethoxylate resin to reach high resistance to corrosion, even in some harsh circumstances, such as vessels in the deep ocean, where salinity and humidity are quite high.

The Backing

A high-quality backing should provide strength and support to the glass. After all, you wouldn’t want your mirror falling apart or becoming distorted easily, would you? The right backing can prevent such mishaps and extend the life of your mirror.

Here are some characteristics of a good quality backing:

  • Strong and moisture-resistant: A good backing should protect the reflective coating from damage, especially in areas with high humidity.
  • Uniformly applied: The backing should be applied without any visible gaps or overlaps. This ensures that your reflection remains clear and free from distortion.

Wood or plywood are commonly used for mounting high-quality mirrors, as they provide stability and durability.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors determine mirror quality?

When assessing mirror quality, you should consider the glass quality, proper silvering, sturdiness of the frame, and lack of distortions or imperfections. High-quality mirrors provide a clear and sharp reflection, ensuring longevity and resistance to tarnishing.

How is mirror thickness measured?

Mirror thickness is typically measured in inches. A common thickness for high-quality mirrors is 1/4 inch. Thinner glass may lack stability and be more prone to distortions, affecting the reflective quality.

Differences between cheap and high-end mirrors?

Cheap mirrors often use thinner glass, weaker silvering, and inferior frames, leading to shorter life spans and distorted reflections. High-end mirrors, on the other hand, offer better build quality, thicker glass, and long-lasting silvering, resulting in a clearer reflection.

Accurate and best mirror types?

The “best” type of mirror depends on your purpose and requirements. Frameless, oval-shaped models are great for bathroom use, while larger wall mirrors work well in living spaces. Regardless of the type, always opt for mirrors with distortion-free, flat surfaces and high-quality glass.

Author: James

Author: James

This is James, I have been working in Okay Mirror as sales and marketing director for more than 10 years. Knowledgable in LED lighting and mirror technology, experienced in kinds of projects for residential, commercial, and hospitality industry.

Author: James

Author: James

This is James, I have been working in Okay Mirror as sales and marketing director for more than 10 years. Knowledgable in LED lighting and mirror technology, experienced in kinds of projects for residential, commercial, and hospitality industry.

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