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HOME IMPROVEMENT : Mirrors Can Create Positive Image

March 09, 1991|From Reader's Digest

Mirrors widen and heighten space, intensify lighting and mask wall defects. Here are some guidelines for hanging and cleaning these functional and decorative items:

Hanging Mirrors

Position a mirror so that a person of average height looks directly into it. However, if you plan to use the mirror primarily for decorative effect--for example, over a mantel--its height is less critical.

If a mirror is unbacked and unframed or has only a lightweight frame, a simple, secure way to mount it on a wall or door is with J-shaped mirror clips on the bottom and Z-shaped clips along the top and sides. The number and size of the clips needed depends on the size and weight of the mirror. Ask the advice of a glass dealer or a hardware dealer that carries the clips.

To mount:

1. Draw a level guideline on which to position the base clips.

2. Secure two or three J-clips along the pencil line using hollow-wall fasteners or wall anchors, depending on the type of wall. These clips along the mirror's bottom will support most of its weight, so be sure they are securely anchored. If the clips are unpadded, add thin adhesive-backed felt to prevent them from scratching the mirror.

3. With a helper, gently lower the mirror into position. While your helper holds the mirror, install Z-clips at regular intervals around the sides and top so that the mirror hugs the wall.

As an alternative, you can have the glass dealer drill holes through the corners of the mirror. Mount the mirror with long screws sunk in wall anchors; cover the screw heads with decorative rosettes.

The method for hanging a mirror with a sturdy frame is the same as for hanging a framed picture. First, find out how much the mirror weighs. This is important because hardware stores and frame shops sell picture hooks in packages that indicate the maximum weight each hook will hold.

If the mirror weighs less than 5 pounds, simply tack a sawtooth hanger on back of the top part of the frame.

If it weighs more than 5 pounds, attach two screw eyes to the sides of the frame and secure a strand of braided picture wire between them.

If the mirror is extra-heavy, use larger screw eyes and thicker picture wire and mount them on two hooks. If possible, use long screw hooks that go into studs on the wall.

Here's how to hang a framed mirror:

1. Screw in each screw eye into a side of the frame one-third of the way down from the top of the frame. Cut stranded picture wire 8 inches longer than the frame's width. Slip one end through a screw eye, pull it out 4 inches, slip it through again, then twist the short end of the wire tightly around the main wire. Repeat with the other screw eye, pulling the wire taut.

2. Pull the wire toward the top center of the frame; measure from the uppermost point of the wire to the frame's top. Have someone hold the frame at its intended position on the wall. Mark the midpoint of the frame's top; from there measure down to where the hook should meet the wire and mark the spot.

3. Crisscross masking tape over the marked spot. Place each hook (with the nail in place) flat against the wall and hit the nail head firmly. Hold the hammer so that it is in line with the direction of the nail and hits squarely on the nailhead. Continue to drive the nail until the hanger fits just snugly against the wall--don't beat it into the wall.

Cleaning Mirrors

Use liquid glass cleaner on a mirror's surface. If it is badly soiled, wipe with a warm solution of tea, water and detergent, or use 2 tablespoons of vinegar, ammonia or denatured alcohol in 1 quart of water. Do not allow any cleaner to touch the back of the mirror; it can discolor the reflective backing.

Remove paint splatters from a mirror by rubbing the spots with extremely fine steel wool. Or scrape it off with a razor blade in a holder.

To discourage fogging of mirrors, trail a soapy finger a few times across the surface, then shine with a cloth.

To disguise a worn spot in the reflective backing of a mirror, sandwich a piece of aluminum foil between the mirror and its cardboard backing.

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