What Causes Mirror Desilvering?

Many mirrors, whether brand-new or antique, eventually become silvered. A mirror’s dark corners tell that the silver coating is peeling and wearing away.

Mirrors will become desilver when moisture from a warm bath or water droplets is subjected to moisture. The silver becomes oxidized as a result of humidity. Additionally, if you reside near a body of water, such as an ocean or sea, the air’s moisture is salty, which can lead to delivery problems.

What Are Dark Streaks and Spots Around the Edges of My Mirror?

What Causes Mirror Desilvering

Mirrors are not only composed of glass. A coating of tin and silver is poured onto the glass substrate as part of the mirror-making process. The mirror gets its glimmer and glitter from this layer of silver. However, the silver coating can result in dark or black scars and streaks along the margins.

The mirror may lose its silver finish if the backing comes off the surface or deteriorates. This frequently occurs when: 

  • De-silvering is critically dependent on moisture. You repeatedly splatter water on the mirror. The mirror may eventually become less silvery if you frequently splash water on it (for example, in a bathroom or kitchen).
  • You subject the mirror to a lot of moisture. Moisture can also desilver a mirror without directly touching with water rushing (or splashing). This mirror problem may be caused by a steam sauna or other humid home area.
  • You don’t adequately clean the mirror. Your mirror may become less reflective if you frequently use an ammonia-based cleaning agent or touch it with a damp cloth.
  • Desilvering can be avoided, and it won’t affect all of your home’s reflective glass. You can prevent your mirror from this phase. But what if the mirrors have already developed stains and streaks? The damage can be repaired, hidden, or replaced if it’s too late and the activity is well started or if you acquired desilvered mirrors.

How Do I Prevent Mirror Desilvering?

Mirrors are durable and last a lifetime with proper care. But we’ve all seen scratched mirrors with blackened edges in antique shops. Desilvering is a process that can occur when mirrors are not properly maintained.

Fortunately, maintaining the appearance of your mirror doesn’t need much extra work; you simply need to incorporate these few easy procedures into your daily home maintenance regimen.

Watch Out For Water Splashes

The preventive coating on the back of your bathroom mirror may be affected by excessive moisture, which puts it at the most severe danger of desilvering. When using a sink right below your mirror to wash your hands, brush your teeth, or do anything else, be extra careful not to spray water all over the place.

Make sure to clean up any water that may have splashed onto the mirror right soon.

Dry Your Mirror After Shower

After a hot shower, if your bathroom becomes incredibly steamy, wipe the moisture off the mirror with a towel rather than wait for it to dry naturally.

Take Care When Cleaning

When cleaning your mirror, avoid using excessive amounts of glass cleaner; instead, use the solution moderately and clean the mirror thoroughly and dry afterward. In fact, it’s better to use a microfiber cloth or paper towel doused with a cleaner instead of spraying any cleaning directly on your mirror.

Pick The Appropriate Cleaning Product

Over time, some cleaning products can be more damaging to your mirror. Any cleaning products with ammonia or vinegar as an ingredient should be avoided.

Put In A Frame

The borders of your bathroom mirror can be shielded from encroaching dampness by a frame, which also serves to conceal any potential desilvering that may have already occurred. In addition, as an added benefit, it will make your mirror look polished and newer without requiring the glass to be replaced.

Following these five suggestions, you can make the most of your mirror for several more coming years.

Repairing Mirror Desilvering

You can select any size mirror depending on how your home or bathroom is decorated. There are many different sizes of mirrors on the market from which you may choose one to match your interior design. Although there are many different sizes, forms, and structures of mirrors, the process of making them hasn’t changed much over time.

Basically, the back of a piece of smooth glass is coated with a small layer of aluminum or silver to create a mirror. You may quickly fix your mirror if it develops minor fractures or scratches. You may fix minor cracks in your mirror using a glass repair kit.

You can use a Desilvering spray to hide up black patches brought on by desilvering.

The Mirror’s Backing Will Be Removed

The old coating on your mirror needs to be removed first. There are numerous desilvering kits available on the market. There are detailed instructions included with each desilvering package.

You should use an industrial-grade paint stripper to clean the surface before applying a reasonable amount of solvent. Use a nitric acid solution to get rid of the silver if you’ve managed to get the paint off. Because the process involves utilizing harsh chemicals that could be hazardous to your health, you should wear a painter’s respirator.

Take precautions to protect your safety and avoid cutting your hands on jagged glass edges. After the old paint has been peeled off, thoroughly clean the glass to get rid of any dirt.

You must thoroughly clean the surface before proceeding to the following step since any dirt left behind will show up as imperfections in the end product, negating all of your hard work.

Distributing Evenly With Silver Nitrate

The silver must now be reapplied; to do this, a silver nitrate mixture must be evenly applied to the glass’s cleaned side. The bond between this substance and glass is flawless and performs excellently. In between 24 and 48 hours, let the coat dry. The end product will be pretty good, so the long wait will have been worthwhile.

Applying Copper Paint Coating

The last step is to paint the mirror with a layer of copper paint to lock in the silver. To strengthen the coating, put one or more coats of gray paint over the metallic paint after it has been applied. The final layers aid in shielding the reflective coating from scuffs and damage.

Allow each application to completely dry before adding the next. The glass must be allowed to dry and cure between each material coat.

How To Hide Desilvering From Mirror’s Edges?

You can cover tarnish on the mirror’s edges with ornate beads, mirror scraping, and liquid lead. The two options are to coat the mirror with a replacement finish or cover the areas because it is difficult to remove the stains. A cleaning solution seeped into the mirror’s back may be the source of tarnishing on the mirror’s edges. The alternatives for covering tarnish on the mirror’s edges are listed below.

Add Beads for Decoration

Using ornamental beads is one approach to covering tarnish at the mirror’s edges. There are many different types of beautiful beads to choose from. You could even decide on a design based on the room’s theme. Beads should be glued to the mirror.

Apply Mirror Rubbing

Mirror stripping is an additional choice you could consider. Put mirror peeling around the mirror’s edge to cover the tarnished spots.

Apply Liquid Lead

You can also use liquid lead to cover the mirror’s corroded edges. To accomplish this:

  • Take the mirror off the wall and place it flat on the floor.
  • Draw some patterns on the mirror’s edges using liquid lead.
  • Use stained glass paint to fill in the margins.

Cost To Resilver A Mirror?

It is possible that your mirror has to be resilvered if it is foggy or splotchy and cleaning it does not clear things up. Regardless of whether your mirror is constructed of silver or aluminum, the method used by specialists to solve the issue is resilvering. 

The technique is inexpensive and will cost about $20 per square foot if the metal for your mirror is placed on top of the glass. The glass may need to be removed and replaced, which could be an additional fee. 

Most businesses typically have a waiting period before this process is finished. To make a single mirror using their technology cost-effective for the user, they need to resilver broad areas rather than just one.

When Should You Resilver A Mirror?

Re-silvering the glass is unquestionably worthwhile if it has sentimental value or is beveled, curved, exquisitely engraved, meticulously sculpted, or has any of these features.

An exceptionally wet procedure is mirror resilvering. You must remove a mirror from its frame before you can resilver it. After carefully removing the mirror, is when you should do this. It’s a good idea to examine the structure itself to see whether it needs to be adjusted or repaired.

The glass itself is unaffected by the process of resilvering a mirror. Scratches, chips, or cracks won’t be repaired by it. The new, brilliant silver might even draw attention to these flaws more.

To determine whether a scratch is in the glass or the silver of your mirror, carefully inspect it. A scratch in the glass cannot be manually polished away. However, a scratch in the silver coating can be eliminated by re-silvering.


This article on the causes of mirror desilvering is now at its conclusion. Mirror tarnish can be brought on by various circumstances, as we have discovered. These elements include age and exposure to dampness. Additionally, we provided advice on how to clean tarnish off of mirrors and ways to prevent it. Many thanks for reading.

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