How to Repair and Restore Antique Mirrors

an ovular antique mirror
What You'll Need
Resilvering chemical kit
Sturdy gloves
Eye protection
Heavy duty dust mask
Scraper or chemical to remove old silver

The sentimental value attached to some antique mirrors may make it hard for you to replace them with new mirrors. But what happens if the mirror is damaged and worn out? Well you need to know how to repair and restore them.

You might also have an intricately designed mirror that you had custom ordered. The mirror will definitely need some restoration once in a while. You can easily revamp antique mirrors to their original condition through the following steps.

Step 1 - Determine what Needs to be Done

Look at your mirror and determine whether resilvering will restore it to a functional condition. Some mirrors are easier and cheaper to replace than to restore. If the antique mirror will do with a restoration, continue with these steps.

Clean the mirror carefully with some warm water and a non-corrosive detergent.

Step 2 - Removing the Silver

It is time to wear your protective gear (sturdy gloves, eye protection and heavy-duty dust mask). Ensure that the gloves and the mask are worn to fit and that they leave no part of your hands and face exposed.

Place the mirror on a clean surface that is preferably cushioned by a hard rug. Apply the silver removing chemical or carefully scrape the old silver from the back of your mirror. The chemical should ideally be packed together with the resilvering chemical kit. If it is not provided, then just apply some varnish remover and the silver will easily peel off. Another useful silver-removing chemical is diluted nitric acid.

Step 3 - Apply the Chemical

Raise the glass to a slight incline and clean it with a soft cloth. Add some acidic cleanser, which should also come with the chemical kit. From this point on, refrain from touching the glass with your bare hands.

Put the glass on a level surface again and carefully apply your chemical mixture provided in the kit. The mixture is what captures and sticks your silver.

Step 4 - Apply the Backing

Wait for about ten minutes for the mixture to dry a bit. After ten minutes, apply the silver evenly and without leaving any lines and blots on the glass. Let dry for about 25 minutes.

Once the silver has been on the glass for some time you can now apply your new backing. This should preferably be black lacquer paint, also included in your chemical kit.

Step 5 - Finishing

Leave the mirror to dry for several hours. Wash your hands and face thoroughly before getting some fresh air.

When the mirror dries completely, hang it up.

Some Tips on Repair Work

The frame maybe chipped or its paint peeled. To correct this, remove the mirror from the frame and dab some primer on the chipped parts before repainting. For metal frames, all you need to do is to repaint the frame in your color choice.

If you cannot remove the frame during the repainting, protect your mirror from the paint, using some old newspapers masked on the surface of the mirror. You can then paint the frame with two even coats of high gloss paint.

You can repair and restore antique mirrors not just when they are completely dysfunctional but even when they lose their shine. These steps should guide you in such maintenance needs.