What is Colored Mirror Glass?


Ready to freshen up your home’s interior? You’ve probably already thought about new paint, carpet and furniture. Maybe you’ve even looked into new windows and window treatments. But what about mirrors? You’re probably thinking, “Really? Mirrors?” Are you envisioning outdated décor, complete with floor to ceiling mirror walls? Well, put those thoughts aside. We’re not bringing back disco fever interior design. However, there are a lot of timeless ways you can incorporate mirrors into your home’s décor. Not only does mirror glass create a visual aesthetic, it can also make a space feel bright and large. And for a completely different look, a colored mirror can bring a unique style to enhance your living space. Yes, in the glass world, there’s something to suit anyone’s style, and colored mirrors can take a room from bland to bold.

Using colored mirror creates a unique aesthetic

What are My Colored Mirror Options?

A home’s bathroom is the most common application for mirror. Some applications feature one large span of mirror across the wall behind the sink. Likewise, some more recent, modern homes feature smaller framed mirrors in bathrooms.

While there are certainly plenty of options, you might be wondering, what, exactly, is mirror glass? Simply put, treating the glass with a metallic substance, such as silver, makes it reflective. The term “mirrored glass” applies to several types of products. In addition to mirrors specifically, there’s also reflective glass for architectural or decorative purposes, such as facades or tabletops.

Colored Mirror

Adding a pop of color to your interior space is a great way to create visual interest. Colored mirror glass is an alternative to traditional updates, such as new paint or a bright throw pillow. Some glass shops offer a variety of colored mirror options. The most common selections are usually green, bronze and gray. However, there are also options for even bolder colors, such as pink, purple, red and even yellow.

Antique Mirror

In addition, antique mirror glass, which has dark or tarnished speckles, is another option. The metallic coating on the back of the glass oxidizes over time and causes this effect.

While the antique mirror look does occur naturally over time, you don’t have to wait hundreds of years. Many glass shops offer antique mirror options that you can easily incorporate into your home. Applications include interior walls, backsplashes, tabletops or even furniture.

How Is Colored Mirror Made?

Before understanding how colored mirror glass is made, let’s look at how to make glass. Modern glass production begins with the float glass process. This was invented in 1959 by Sir Alistar Pilkington. In this process, a continuous strip of molten glass at approximately 1,000 degrees centigrade flows continuously from the furnace onto a large shallow bath of molten metal, usually tin. The glass floats and cools on the tin and spreads out to form a flat surface. The speed at which the controlling glass ribbon is drawn determines the thickness of the glass. The float glass process produces more than 90 percent of the world’s flat glass.

The ingredients that are used to make glass are known as “the batch.” These include:

  • Silica sand: Makes up 60% of glass;
  • Limestone: Contributes strength properties to glass;
  • Soda ash: Helps glass endure a range of temperatures without melting;
  • Dolomite: Contributes to glass’ resistance to melting; and
  • Glass cullet: Commonly known as broken glass, this accelerates the melting of glass as it goes through the float glass process.

In addition, adding different powdered metal oxides, sulfides or other compounds to the molten glass will add or change the color. Common colors for architectural glass include blue, green, gray and bronze. Applying a silver coating to this type of glass will result in a mirror of that color.

But what about brighter and bolder colors? While it’s possible to create these colors through the float glass process, doing so would be very expensive. That’s because a float glass line runs constantly, every day of the year. Purple glass may be beautiful, but there’s not enough demand for the quantity the float process would produce.

Fortunately, there are alternative methods. Some companies produce a variety of glass colors in brick furnaces. Here, they heat the limestone, soda ash and sand to the same high temperatures as in the float process. Different mixtures of ingredients create a variety of colors. The heated molten glass travels across a lehr. Like in the float process, this is where the glass is slowly and evenly cooled. At the end of the lehr, workers remove the cooled sheet of glass and cut it to different sizes.

Colored Mirror Design Elements

Now that you know all about colored mirrors, it’s time to think about incorporating them into your home décor. Before hanging a mirror, be sure to look around the space and see what will be across from it. This way you can determine what the mirror will reflect. For example, a mirror placed across from a unique detail, will reflect that element, making it even more pronounced. Also, hanging a mirror across from a window will help increase the amount of light in the room.

In addition, keep in mind that a mirror should be hung at the appropriate height for the space. While artwork should always be hung at eye level, mirror placement depends on what you want to be reflected. Eye-level is often fine, but higher or lower may be better depending on the situation.

Remember, adding a mirror can help create a beautiful focal point. You can hang one above a mantel or in your home’s foyer. You can even place many mirrors of different sizes and shapes on a wall for a unique look.

Ready to Mirror Shop

Mirrors come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, styles and even colors. Whether your home’s décor is modern, edgy, or traditional, there is a mirror option that’s right for you. Glass.com can connect you with glass professionals in your area who can help you find the one that suits your own unique tastes.

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Ellen Rogers

By Ellen Rogers

Ellen Rogers has been involved with the glass industry for nearly 20 years and is the editor of USGlass Magazine and Architects’ Guide to Glass magazine. Ellen received a degree from Peace College where she studied journalism.

Ellen enjoys running and competes regularly in races including half and full marathons. When not on the go, Ellen enjoys reading, wine tasting, true crime shows, and family game nights with her husband and son. Their favorite game is Clue. Ellen also bakes what is known locally as “World Famous Oatmeal Cookies.”


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