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Top 5 Mirror Projects for Your Home January 27, 2011

Posted by Bob Eugley in Mirrors.
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Bathroom Mirror ProjectI’m often asked where the best applications for mirror are in the home, here’s my opinion:

  1. Master Bath – In this application, size does matter. The larger the mirror, the larger the bath will look. In today’s homes, often the master bath isn’t that large and more mirror will help to give the illusion of size.
  2. Secondary Baths – Since these are even smaller than most Master Baths, the need for a large mirror is even greater. The larger the mirror, the more spacious the area will feel.
  3. Mirrored Wardrobe Doors – Again, the addition of mirror will make the room appear larger, but where could it be more useful than where you dress.
  4. Dressing Area – If you don’t typically dress in front of your mirrored wardrobe doors, be sure you have a dressing mirror where you do dress, be it inside a walk in closet or wherever your “private spot” is.  Make sure it is tall enough to show you everything and low enough to see your shoes. NEVER use a tinted mirror as a dressing mirror.
  5. Blind Driveway – Some homes leave a lot to be desired in the way their driveways access the street. If you have this problem, a Plexiglas (outdoor use) convex mirror, mounted in the proper location, may save your life ( or someone else’s).

Finally, too much mirror can be worse than not enough. Also never install mirrors opposite each other. In the industry, we call that the “fun house” application.

What Should I Look For In a Mirror? January 19, 2011

Posted by Bob Eugley in Mirrors.
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Bathroom MirrorThat’s a legitimate question that more people should ask.  All mirrors are NOT created equal and here is a quick rundown on what to look for.  For starters, any salesperson who is worth his salt will tell you they have the best of the best.  That’s fine, but DO ask him what makes the difference.  If he doesn’t have a good answer find someone else.  Good residential mirror has the following qualities:

  • High silver content
  • Multiple coats of protective paint on the back (to keep air from the silver which will make it tarnish)
  • Use one glass source exclusively.  If  the manufacturer uses multiple sources for glass you may find subtle differences in the shade of the mirror.  It won’t be noticed until you put two pieces together, but by that time it is too late!
  • The latest processes call for the elimination of copper in the backing.  This change enhances the life of the mirror dramatically.  The best mirror is “copper free”
  • Size matters! Mirror comes in ¼” thickness and several thinner ones.  The thinner types are either for special applications like mirrored wardrobe doors or just plain cost cutting.  If it isn’t ¼” it IS a lower quality mirror
  • ¼” thick mirror is a good start, but the best mirror is made from “mirror select” quality glass.  This is glass that has been selected exclusively for mirrors.  It has fewer flaws and distortions and is a key ingredient in the BEST mirror

Lastly, no mirror is perfect.  If you spend long enough looking at it you will find something that isn’t perfect.  Our technology simply isn’t that good.  Industry standards dictate that if you can’t see the flaw from about 10’ it is acceptable.  Also looking at the mirror from a sharp angle will almost always make it look distorted.

At Mirror Shower & Glass, we use Guardian Mirror exclusively for in home installation.  Guardian is the world’s largest producer of “mirror select” glass and they use it exclusively in their product.  It is  American made, produced in Reedley California.  It has a high silver content, multiple coats of paint and is “copper free”.  It is the very best mirror I know of.

Use a Protective Glass Top to Protect Your Wood Furnishings August 15, 2010

Posted by Bob Eugley in Glass Tops.
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Protecting your investment in fine wood furnishings is an excellent idea.  There are too many opportunities for a spill or a dropped item to damage your furniture.  A protective glass top is a smart investment in this case.  You are attempting to display your furniture and protect it, so beveling is generally not a good idea.  You want the visual image to be your furniture, so drawing attention to the protective top can be a mistake.  Similarly, using tinted glass will distort the appearance of the furniture.  Generally 1/4″ clear, annealed (non-tempered) glass is your best approach.  The heat of the tempering process often results in allowable distortions in the glass.  The irregularities will cause the glass to lose its perfectly flat surface and it may not sit evenly on the furniture.  When setting the glass it is important that the glass not lie directly on the wood.  A slight variance in the surface of the furniture would allow the glass to leave a rub mark over time.  The use of clear plastic wafers to separate the glass from the furniture is essential.  This creates a small air space between glass and wood.  Imagine a hot cup being placed on the surface.  Condensation on the underside of the glass is the normal result.  If there is no air space you can have both mold and damage to the wood surface.  Be certain to use a spacer that won’t chemically degrade over time damaging your furniture.

Using Colored Glass as an Alternative to Whiteboards June 4, 2010

Posted by Bob Eugley in Colored glass.
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ColorKote Colored GlassTired of having your whiteboard get scratched and discolored from old markings?  ColorKote is now making a line of glass marker boards that are far more durable than standard whiteboards.  The board itself is glass, which make it is far more resistant to scratching.  Also, the color is chemically bonded to the back of the glass, which is what prevents discoloration.  As a nice added touch, ColorKote can customize your glass marker board, by imprinting your logo or forms on the back of the glass.  In addition to custom applications, there are standard sizes to choose from as well.  While the image above is not that of a glass marker board, it gives you an example of what colored glass looks like, as well as an alternative application for its use (kitchen backsplashes).

Choose the Best Glass for Your Boat March 1, 2010

Posted by Bob Eugley in Boat Glass.
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Laminated Glass for Your Boat - San DiegoBuilding codes generally require that anything that moves has to utilize safety glass.  Your boat, as a moving vehicle, is no exception to this rule.  Portholes and windshields must utilize the general category of safety glass.  The field includes plexiglass, tempered glass and laminated glass.  My personal preference is laminated for several reasons.  Laminated glass is more scratch resistant than plexiglas and also won’t turn that ugly shade of yellow when exposed to the sun.  Tempered glass is much stronger, but if it does break, it explodes into tiny pieces and vacates the opening (the side windows in you car are an example).  Imagine being out in rough seas and breaking a porthole -would you prefer glass like your side car window that breaks and vacates the opening or glass like your car windshield that cracks and stays in place until you get to port and repair it?  The tempered glass is less expensive, but you need a precise pattern and about a week to have your order processed.  With laminated glass, you still need the pattern, but Mirror Shower & Glass carries laminated in stock and has a full time shop technician who can usually complete your order same day!

Building codes generally require that anything that moves has to utilize safety glass.  Your boat, as a moving vehicle, is no

exception to this rule.  Portholes and windshields must utilize the general category of safety glass.  The field includes plexiglass,

tempered glass and laminated glass.  My personal preference is laminated for several reasons.  Laminated glass is more scratch

resistant than plexiglas and also won’t turn that ugly shade of yellow when exposed to the sun.  Tempered glass is much stronger, but

if it does break, it explodes into tiny pieces and vacates the opening (the side windows in you car are an example).  Imagine being

out in rough seas and breaking a porthole -would you prefer glass like your side car window that breaks and vacates the opening or

glass like your car windshield that cracks and stays in place until you get to port and repair it?  The tempered glass is less

expensive, but you need a precise pattern and about a week to have your order processed.  With laminated glass, you still need the

pattern, but Mirror Shower & Glass carries laminated in stock and has a full time shop technician who can usually complete your order

same day!

Is mirror all the same? January 11, 2010

Posted by Bob Eugley in Mirrors.
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After nearly 25 years in the glass industry this is a question that more customers should really be asking.  When you go to buy something and you are uncertain about what you are shopping for the automatic default is price.  How much would it cost for….?  There is really a lot more to buying mirror and if you don’t know what to ask how are you going to get what you want?

If you are shopping for a bathroom mirror what are you looking for other than price?  Is your home a “flipper” that you are going to be out of in a few years or is this your home for the forseeable future.  If  it’s a short term fix the Big Box stores carry prepackaged low quality mirrors that are plenty cheap.  The cost is low beacuse they mass produce a few sizes, use thin glass, cut the amount of silver and cut corners on the paint on the back of the mirror.

Typically the lack of a good backing will allow air and liquid (condensation, glass cleaners) to penetrate and make contact with the silver.  Ever leave a silver tea pot in the sink over night?  It tarnishes so will your mirror.  We’ve all gone in a public restroom and the bottom of the mirror is all black.  Liquid has built up at the back of the mirror and “wicked” up penetrating the paint and tarnishing the mirror.  If it is only on the bottom the cause was partially an installation error.  The mirror was set flush on a bottom surface and now condensation on the back of the mirror is puddling at the base.  If the installer had put blocks near each corner it would have allowed the liquid to collect at the bottom and dry without touching the mirror.  If the tarnishing or “black edge” as it is called in the industry is on all four sides the cause is either poor mirror quality of a toxic cleaning agent, or both.  If you use an ammoniated glass cleaner you WILL cause black edge, as ammonia is known to tarnish silver.  Save your ammoniated cleaner for your windows and use a non ammoniated cleaner (or plain water) on your mirrors.  Avoid applying too much of your cleaner or it will build up at the base  endangering your mirror.

That’s a lot of talk about bad mirrors and bad installation – what is good mirror?  If you ask the guy from the glass shop he will say his is good – we all do!  Ask him why.  If he doesn’t have an answer move on.  Good mirror starts with good glass.  The best mirror is made of  “mirror select” glass.  It has been selected as relatively blemish free.  The rejects go to regular glass sales, maybe even a mirror manufacturer who doesn’t want the extra expense.  “Mirror  select” is only 1/4″.  Mirror that is 3/16″ or 5/32″ or 1/8″ is not made from mirror select glass.  The 3/16″ and 5/32″ product is for the less descriminating buyer and for tract work that is awarded to a low bidder.  The next point is where does the mirror manufacturer get his glass.  If he buys only “mirror select” but shops around for price each manufacturers glass is slightly different and has a slightly different cast.   I learned the hard way that even using the same mirror manufacturer you can get a 3 panel mirrored wall where one panel is a little blue, another a little green and the third a little gray.  It usually isn’t noticeable unless you have a lot of white (carpets, walls, furniture), but once you notice it, the difference becomes the first thing you see.  Subsequently, the mirror manufacturer should use one glass suppliers product exclusively.

The next quality item is silver content.  If the manufacturer cuts silver content the life span will be shortened.  When I started in the industry you used to be able to identify the manufacturer of a certain brand by holding up a second mirror to the one you were replacing and you could actually read the name that had been printed over the paint in the back.  Multiple coats of top quality paint will lengthen the life of a mirror.  The better and thicker the paint the better protection the silver gets from bathroom steam, hairspray and all the other nasties in the air.

In the past few years mirror manufacturers have discovered that eliminating copper in the coating between the silver and the paint has a dramatic effect on longevity.  One way to test mirror is with a controlled salt spray.  These tests have shown that mirror that is copper free lasts 2-10 times longer than traditional mirror that contains copper in the backing.

In summary, the best mirror is made from 1/4″ “mirror select” glass, obtained from a single glass manufacturer.  The silver content as well as the quality and quantity of the paint covering the back will play a major factor in longevity.  Finally, you should get a copper free mirror for maximim life in your mirror.   There are a few domestic mirror manufacturers who meet those criteria, but not many.

Remember, if your glass company says his mirror is the best you need to ask him why.  If the explanation isn’t there it may be time to move on.

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