Mirrors can become discolored or marred over time and while this look may fit in with a shabby chic decor, there may be situations when a pristine mirrored surface is desired. It is possible to resilver a mirror, and while the process is not cheap or easy, it may be worth the effort if the mirror has sentimental value, beveled edges or a fabulous frame. Before resilvering a valuable antique mirror, check with a reputable dealer to see if the process will affect the value of the mirror.
Resilvering can be dangerous if precautions are not taken. Be sure to read and follow all precautionary statements on product packaging to avoid damaging the mirror or injuring yourself. Seek the help of a friend when working with a large mirror.
Preparations and Supplies
Before purchasing a resilvering kit, determine if it is even practical to resilver the mirror. For instance, bathroom mirrors that are wall mounted often become damaged when they come into contact with water and cleaning solvents. These mirrors are not usually worth resilvering. Inexpensive mirrors should be replaced rather than resilvered.
Next, carefully inspect the glass before deciding to resilver a mirror. Scratches, gouges, and chips cannot be improved by resilvering. Inspect the mirror from the edges and different angles to determine if there is surface damage. If you spot damage, do not bother resilvering or the damage may be even more apparent.
Resilvering kits can be found at home improvement stores and online. They are not inexpensive, but they are a great way to learn the resilvering process. You may want to attempt a small inexpensive mirror first, before attempting to resilver a valuable or irreplaceable mirror.
1.Remove the painted protective backing.
Protective backing paint is applied to the backside of mirrors. This is not the silvering, but merely a protective coating. The layer against the silver is copper, and the final layer is backing paint. A commercial stripper will remove the backing paint. The stripper may be included with your kit or it can be purchased at a home improvement or craft store.
2.Strip away the old silver.
After the protective backing is removed, use nitric acid to remove the old silver. This will be included in the kit. Follow all safety precaution on the packaging and wear protective goggles and gloves to avoid injury to your eyes and skin.
3.Clean and polish the glass.
After stripping, the glass must be cleaned and polished before the new resilvering is applied. Remove all smudges and fingerprints with deionized water and a lint-free cloth; wear powder-free gloves to keep from smudging the glass as you work.
4.Spray the silver backing on to the glass.
A sprayer designed for resilvering mirrors should be used to apply silver nitrate to the glass. Mix the chemicals as directed on your kit and apply evenly with the sprayer. Note that the spray will look clear when applied, but will turn silver as it dries. Secure the glass on an easel or work table before spraying.
5.Apply the copper paint and new painted backing.
Apply the copper paint from your kit according to product instructions. Let it dry completely and then apply the new protective painted backing as directed. The backing should be allowed to dry thoroughly before hanging the mirror.