Fitting Mirrors Without Breaking Them

Strategically placed mirrors or mirror tiles can be used to create an illusion of space in a room, to make a room brighter by reflecting window light, or just as an eye-catching feature — perhaps in an alcove or behind display shelving.

Smaller mirrors can be fixed with mirror screws, clips or corner plates. A large mirror needs additional support provided by screwing to the wall a batten on which it can rest. Any wall which is reasonably flat makes a good surface for a mirror; if the wall is badly undulating then it will be necessary to first fix a base board of plywood or chipboard to provide a smooth surface. However it is fixed, a mirror should first be held in place and its positioning checked with a spirit level. It must be truly vertical.

Dome-head mirror screws are best for screw fixing. If the holes are not already drilled then these can be made with an electric drill and a special spear-point bit. The holes should be drilled at least 25mm away from the edge.

To drill a hole, lay the mirror on a flat surface, stick a small ring of Plasticine around the drilling position and pour into it a few drops of water. Drill the holes first from the back of the mirror then, as the point of the bit breaks through on the mirror side, turn the mirror over and complete the hole from the front.

Mirror screws are often provided with spacer washers which fit between the mirror and the wall, plastic sleeves which fit in the hole in the mirror, and extra washers which go between the screw heads and the mirror surface. Never over-tighten the screws or the mirror might crack. The Frew head is concealed beneath a screw-on dome cover.

When using mirror clips, two fixed clips are screwed to the wall to support the mirror. Two more sliding clips are added at the top (and possibly one on either side) to retain the mirror. The screws for these are tightened sufficiently to allow the clips to slide in and out. The mirror is positioned on the fixed clips and then the sliding clips are pushed into position.

Mirror tiles are available in many types and styles — colours, patterns and even murals comprising about six tiles. If the tiles are to be used in a kitchen or bathroom then first check their suitability for steamy conditions. The wall must be clean and dry, and free from loose material. Tiles must not be fixed over vinyl wallpaper because they will soon come adrift.

On the back of each tile there are four adhesive tabs; remove the paper covering from each and press the tile to the wall. The tabs might be provided in a separate packet.

If a wall is slightly undulating then some distortion in the reflection will result. This can be overcome by using an additional tab over the existing one. In extreme cases, the wall must be lined first with chipboard or plywood.

Mirror tiles can be bought in different sizes and can be used in many ways to produce interesting and imaginative results. They can be put in virtually any room in your house or apartment.

In the bathroom they can cover a wall, although they will of course suffer from condensation when the bath is in full use. Mirror tiles can also be used to reflect other decorations by, for instance, running a line of tiles behind a selection of indoor plants, or by fixing them within the recess of an old, disused fireplace.

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