Mirror glass - traditional and industrial

There are different methods for mirroring glass, but always a metal coating is used. Depending on the different treatment methods, variable effects also arise, which mirror manufacturers take advantage of. We will explain how the traditional craft performs a mirroring and which industrial processes have been added in the modern world.

What is a real mirror?

A real mirror consists of a metal backed glass that lets no light through. Partly transparent glasses are not "real" mirrors, but they have additional names such as "spy mirrors" or "splitter mirrors".

Traditional mirroring of glass

The oldest artisanal technique of mirror making is to cover the glass backside with a silver nitrate mixture. Some modern mirror manufacturers use the old process in part-technical form to achieve a very special mirror effect.

Silver mirrors are considered particularly brilliant, but are also relatively expensive. Therefore, one-off productions are hardly affordable, with larger series, the price is relativized. The silver plating technique also allows the mirroring of grooved or faceted glass, creating interesting visual stimuli.

Only the traditionally manufactured mirrors can be further processed into toughened safety glass (ESG), which they have in advance of their industrially manufactured relatives.

Industrial mirroring glass

Industrially mirrored glass is created by the back coating with a metal layer. Here sometimes silver is also used, but also the cheaper aluminum. The metal also receives a topcoat of paint to protect the material.

Normally, industrially manufactured mirrors are flat glass of different thickness with a particularly smooth surface. Especially thin glasses have a high reflectance.

A faceting of the industrial mirror glass is in contrast to the manual version only possible on the front, so of course some design options are lost.


The decorative mirroring is created by a special process in which a thin layer of pure silver is applied to the back of the glass using printing technology. The advantages:

  • high precision possible
  • mirrored / non-mirrored surfaces side by side
  • fine silver lines can be applied
  • many different color mirrors can be produced
  • Series production of design mirrors
  • also for unique and small series

Tips & Tricks

Do not use your decorative silver mirror outdoors. Despite the protective topcoat on the back, the silver could be damaged by the weather.

Video Board: Mirrors How its made