Mirror, mirror on the wall

Custom installation procedures and products
Content courtesy of MyGlassClass.com
October 4, 2008

When mirrors work well in a room, it is the result of two important factors: the design and the installation. In some cases, glaziers control the design, but in all cases, they control the installation. This article presents proper techniques for installing custom mirrors.

Custom mirror installation consists of three steps: measuring the wall, fabricating the mirror in the shop and installing the mirror on site. Depending on the structure of your company, each step might be done by different people. While this may make the steps sound distinct and separate, they are not. Each is closely related to the other. A successful installation requires each step to be completed as precisely as possible.

The quality of a custom mirror installation depends on the accuracy of each of the following procedures. Before installing a custom mirror, take note of high and low areas by marking their locations on the wall. Increase or decrease the mastic at these locations to counteract the inadequacies. Make sure to read the manufacturer's instructions carefully. You must use a rubber base of 3 inches or an asphalt base of 4 inches to 4 1/2 inches. Use a 4-inch to 4 1/2-inch pancake of mastic to mount the mirror. Then, follow these steps:

1. Mark the location of studs along the upper and lower J-channel paths.

2. Fasten the J-channel to the studs, and level and counter sink the heads of the fasteners, so they do not contact the mirror backing. Shim the J-channel where depressions in the wall occur to provide a straight channel for the mirror.

3. Tape over the screw heads and the wall edge of the J-channel if it protrudes from the wall.

4. Place setting blocks at two places per panel in the lower J-channel, approximately 6 inches from the edge.

5. Remove all switch, vent, and heating and cooling register covers. Cut the tabs or ears off the electrical outlets.

6. Paint the seam line of the butt-joint black. Some installers prefer to use black tape or spray paint. This will prevent the white wall from showing through the cracks.

7. Dry fit each panel separately to assure a secure fit. Adjust the setting blocks if necessary. Plan a panel installation sequence. Install the most difficult panel first: the one with the most cutouts or the hardest to reach. Be sure that all edges of the mirror have been sealed before installing. Mirrors should be sealed to avoid black edge problems.

8. Apply mastic to the mirror according to the manufacturer's specifications. Prime the wall if necessary. Mastic is installed by pats, a minimum of one per square foot and a maximum of four. Be sure to compensate at the depressions and bows in the wall to make the final outcome nice and flat.

9. Install the panels with vacuum cups by setting the top of the mirror inside the upper J-channel.

10. Slide the mirror up to the top. This should allow the bottom of the mirror to clear the lower J-channel.

11. Push the bottom of the mirror against the wall. The top of the mirror will want to pivot outward when you do this. Do not let the top of the mirror chip.

12. Let the mirror slide onto the setting blocks in the J- channel. Do not force it down. Allow the weight of the mirror to pull it down.

13. Align the mirror side-to-side until it is in the approximate location.

14. Install each panel the same way. Use extreme caution not to hit the edge of the mirror on the J-channel, the other mirror or the floor. Any chip in the back of the mirror could result in you having to fabricate and install the mirror all over again. Think twice, install once.

15. Replace the electrical outlets by cutting a piece of plastic tubing long enough to bring the outlet flush with the surface of the mirror. Insert the tubing behind the screw mounts in the top and bottom of each outlet.

16. Replace all vents and switch plates in the same fashion.

17. Clean the mirror and inspect the installation. If you are not using permanent upper fasteners, be sure that the mirror is temporarily secured with some kind of mechanical fastener.When installing mirrors in bathrooms, use mechanical fasteners and leave an air space behind the mirror for humidity. Be sure the edges of the mirror are sealed. If you are using J-channel, make elongated holes in the bottom for drainage of condensation. Round holes do not drain very well.

The mirrors
Mirrors can add depth to a room or enhance the appearance of a living space, and are installed in offices, waiting rooms and residences. Some examples of mirror products available from industry suppliers include:

Chip Huber mirror wall plates
Chip Huber, Sarasota, Fla., offers 78 different mirror wall plates, in four different lines and three sizes. They include standard 1/8-inch clear acrylic mirror; Image 3/16-inch green edge acrylic mirror; Colors 1/8-inch bronze, grey, blue, gold, red or green acrylic mirror; and 1/8-inch clear acrylic mirror with 1/8-inch gasket attached. All products are individually packaged; and custom plate orders received by 1 p.m. Eastern time are shipped the same day, according to a release.
800/430-4402 | www.chiphuberinc.com

Gardner mirrors

Gardner Glass Products, North Wilkesboro, N.C., offers high quality mirrors in cut size, stock sheet and stoce packs in thicknesses ranging from 1/8-inch to 5/16-inch. With edgework capabilities that include polishing, beveling up to 1 1/4-inch wide and arras edge, Gardner can create the right product for the job, according to a release. The company has distribution branches in Phoenix, Indianapolis and Springfield, Va., and manufacturing facilities in Huntsville, Texas, and North Wilkesboro, N.C. Gardner has boom-truck and loose lite capabilities, and offers a 10-year warranty, company officials state.
336/651-9344 | www.gardnerglass.com

GGI antique mirror
General Glass International, Secaucus, N.J., is the exclusive U.S. representative for Italy's Antique Mirror S.P.A., one of the world's fore-most producers of decorative antique mirrors. The company offers six designs for prompt delivery, according to a release. The antique mirror designs are available in 6-millimeter thicknesses, in stock sheets of 47 1/4 inches by 78 3/4 inches. Larger sizes also are available. The mirrors are suitable for a wide range of applications, including wall decoration, furniture and other interior applications. Additional designs are available on a special-order basis.  
800/431-2042 | www.generalglass.com

Guardian Ultra Mirror
Available from Guardian Industries, Auburn Hills, Mich. Ultra Mirror offers protection against mirror reflectance and lifespan degradation. This is accomplished by fine-tuning the silvering process to improve the mirror's corrosion-resistance. The end result is a mirror that exceeds industry testing standards and comes with a 10-year limited warranty. Guardian Ultra Mirrors can be beveled, penciled, polished and v-grooved, and are copper-free, according to the release.
248/340-1800 | www.guardian.com

Kentwood decorative mirror
Kentwood Mfg. Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., produces decorative wall mirrors in many shapes, styles, sizes and finishes. Its product line includes a unique assortment of frameless mirrors, along with framed options in solid wood and popular finishes such as oil rubbed bronze. The typical lead-time is 1 day to 2 days for shipping, with most items available to ship via UPS. Quantity discounts also are available. Custom sizes and finish matching are available for larger projects such as hotels, hospitals and office buildings. 
616/698-6370 | www.kentwoodmfg.com

Meek mirror frame
Meek Mfg. Co., Fort Smith, Ark., has built framed mirrors for more than 40 years, according to company releases. Mirrors are crafted from high quality, heavy-gauge stainless steel, officials state. Meek's trademark Angle Snap Frame is constructed of 18-gauge type 304 stainless steel with welded and polished corners. The frame measures 5/8-inch face by 3/4-inch depth. Theft- and vandal-resistant, this mirror features quick and easy installation with no visible mounting, according to the release. To save money and freight costs, retailers can order the frame only and install the mirror themselves as it is field replaceable.
800/643-2533 | www.meekmirrors.com

Content courtesy of MyGlassClass.com, a state-of-the-art online technical school created by the National Glass Association, McLean, Va., to provide commercial, retail and auto glass companies a convenient, affordable and comprehensive resource for improving worker skills, enhancing workplace safety and achieving professional certification. For more information, visit www.myglassclass.com.