From making a room appear larger or brighter to adding a unique focal point, commercial mirrors serve a variety of purposes in design.
Like any glass product, mirrors should be handled with care. Carelessness in how you move, install, or maintain a commercial mirror greatly increases the risk for damaging or breaking the piece -- or even worse, causing an injury.
Protecting mirror sheets -- as well as your staff and customers -- is about taking the proper precautions from the moment you receive them all the way through installation.
Receiving & Storing Commercial Mirrors
After making its way from the manufacturer to your shop, the integrity of your mirror order is quite literally in your hands. Once your mirror delivery-- no matter how large -- arrives on-site, be sure to:
- Inspect it for obvious breaks while still in its packaging -- you’ll save yourself the headache of cleaning up shards of broken mirror if your order was damaged during shipping.
- If moisture is present on the mirror, wipe it off with a dry cloth to prevent staining or degradation of the silver backing.
- Keep your order in a dry, well-ventilated area with a stable temperature. Shifts in temperature -- especially the cold -- jeopardize the integrity of a mirror’s silver backing. When exposed to changes in temperature, moisture may condense on the surface. If not a sealed mirror, moisture can get between the glass and silvering, causing the reflective layer to deteriorate.
- Store mirror panes vertically. Laying a mirror flat puts strain on the sheet when it’s picked up, increasing the risk of breakage.
How to Safely Move a Large Mirror
Heavy and cumbersome, large mirrors can be tough to move -- even a short distance. And the bigger the mirror, the bigger the mess is to clean up should it shatter.
When moving a large mirror:
- Use two hands. This improves stability and reduces the chances of a drop.
Wear gloves. Not only do gloves give you an improved grip, but they also protect your hands from cuts or splinters from mirrors with unfinished edges.
- Seek assistance if moving a large pane seems like too big a job for one person. Don’t drop a pane because of overconfidence in your abilities to move it!
How to Install a Commercial Mirror Safely
While installation is the final leg of a mirror’s journey from manufacturer to customer, it’s no time to relax. A mirror can break or sustain damage during installation just as easily as it can during transport.
When installing a commercial mirror:
- Have the right tools readily available to help you work efficiently to secure the mirror in place. Most mirror installation jobs call for a:
- Measuring tape
- Stud finder
- Have an assistant. An extra set of hands goes a long way to keep a mirror sheet safe and stable during installation. A helper can reduce your chances of damaging the glass while also offering a second opinion on placement.
- Whether you’re hanging a mirror using standard hardware, a J-channel or L-bar, or an adhesive, follow installation directions and use products recommended by the manufacturer. Deviating from the instructions may mean your mirror is hung improperly, increasing the odds of it falling.
- Fasten mirror mounting hardware to wall studs. This is especially important for heavy pieces. Building materials such as drywall or plaster do not have the strength to support heavy objects.
- When using an adhesive to affix a mirror, be mindful of the piece’s safety backing and the type of adhesive you’re using. Certain adhesives may not bond properly with safety backing, increasing the chances for the mirror to fall. The chemical composition of some adhesives may also damage a mirror’s silvering over time.
- Surface preparation is critical -- especially when hanging a mirror via adhesive. If the wall was recently painted, make sure it's had enough time to dry and cure. An uncured painted surface can’t support the stress placed on it by an adhered mirror.
Maintaining a Mirror’s Appearance
Whether it’s in your shop or with the customer, a mirror is meant to be looked at. And it’s meant to reflect light. That’s why keeping it clean makes all the difference in its functionality and presentation.
To clean a mirror properly, use a non-ammoniated cleaning product. Spray the cleaner onto a cloth, and wipe down the glass surface.
One of the worst things you can do to a mirror is spray an ammoniated cleaner directly on the surface. While this doesn’t damage the glass, it may affect other components of the mirror. Moisture from the cleaner can roll onto the mirror’s edge and damage the back of the mirror, causing its silvering to flake. Ammoniated cleaners may also damage a mirror’s frame over time.
Protecting Commercial Mirror From Day 1
Standard commercial mirror sheets are versatile. They aren’t, however, as durable as some enhanced glasses. By paying careful attention to handling, you’ll ensure your mirrors remain fully intact through each leg of their journey to the customer.
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