How do I choose the right mirror for my needs?

For 160 Degree Convex mirrors, Generally, you need to consider three issues: (1) Visibility - how far will a person be from the mirror, when they are using the mirror. (2) View Distance - Because the reflection in the mirror shows a large area, the images exponentially shrink with distance. This limits the distance a person, with good eyesight, can reasonably see. The suggested size based on "Visibility Only" is roughly 1" of mirror size for every foot you will be from the mirror. All of the mirrors reflect a similar image. As the mirror size increases, so does the size of the image. Regarding the distance you can effectively see items in the mirror, does depend on many factors. However, I have found that I can clearly see areas up to about 75 to 100 feet. When looking down a road, I could easily see a car 250 feet away from the mirror. I was also able to see a car at 400 feet, but it was VERY SMALL in the reflection and I had to be closer to the mirror. For the above reasons, my suggestion for when considerating if a Convex Mirror could work, is to use a maximum view distance of 300 feet for cars and around 100 feet for people sized images. (3) What environmental conditions will the mirror in, after installed. I have separated the items based on inside use, outside in middle weather conditions and all weather use sections. Round and "roundtangular" mirrors allow a 160-degree view. Of our convex mirrors, they provide a clear view with the least image shrinkage. For the "DOME" mirrors, the Visibility and view distance are the same. Use the same sizing formula as the convex mirrors. 1 inch of mirror size for every foot you are from the dome mirror. This rule-of-thumb should be a starting point then you can decide to bump the size up of down. The 1/4 dome mirror provides a 90-degree view and works well in corners. All dome mirrors are limited in the distance you san see objects in the mirror. Generally if what you are wanting to see, like a person around a corner in a hallway, dome mirrors work great. If the object is 30 or more feet away from where the mirror is mounted, the object will be too small to recognize in the mirrors reflection. The 1/2 and full dome mirrors provide a wider viewing area of 180+ degrees. However, as mentioned above, the image becomes very small when it is far away from the mirror. If you do not need the wide-angle view, you should try using a round or "roundtangular" mirror. The convex mirrors do not shrink the image as quickly as do the dome mirrors. If you do need the wide angle and a detailed view, go to a larger sized dome. A good starting point to size the mirror is to first determine how far from the mirror you will be when you need to use it. For example; 18 to 20 feet, use an 18 inch round mirror. For an 18" DOME mirror you will need to be closer so use 10 to 15 feet for an 18" Dome. away.The general rule-of-thumb to determine the size mirror you will need is: For mirrors with a 160º view like the ROUND CONVEX and ROUNDTANGULAR convex mirrors, 1 inch of mirror width equals 1 foot the mirror will be from where you will be looking at the mirror. For the DOME mirrors, the image appears much smaller so you should use the above rule for the distance viewing as the maximum distance. For example: An 18" Dome will work well up to around 15 feet and can be used to see objeccts up to 18 feet. After that it is difficult to identify the image seen in the mirror. I should note that your vision will play a very important roll in the size mirror to choose, so the above recommendations should be used as a guide rather then as an absolute.      

What is a good mirror for the office?

For office or home hallways, a quarter-, half-, or full-dome mirror is a good choice. For example, a quarter-dome mirror can allow people walking toward a blind corner to see around the corner and avoid running into another person or object. For surveillance purposes, a full-dome can offer panoramic views of wide open areas. The smaller (12"x18") "roundtangular" can also be used in an office or store to watch areas where a 180º view is not needed. For example, aisles and entrance areas. The larger round mirrors (26" and 30") are commonly used in convenience stores where they can be placed across the room and still provide a good (detailed) view of persons in the store.

Which Mirror is good for outside?

For outside uses--such as, in driveways, alleys, parking garage, entrances, and exits--a round convex mirror works very well. The "roundtangular" mirror also works well and will allow you to avoid the sun more than the round mirror, and some customers feel it has a more attractive design. Both mirrors work equally well at viewing left to right angles. There is  more information on the Driveway and Traffic Safety Mirrors page.  

How do I decide what kind of backing I need for my mirror?

For inside use, any of the mirrors will work, however the inside hardboard backed and lightweight mirrors are less expensive and therefore recommended. Inside use mirrors are used in stores, office buildings, daycare and classrooms just to name a few places. The mirror lens and mounting hardware are the same with a single centered swivel mount and wall bracket. NOTE: For the 26” and larger mirrors made for outside use, there are slightly different hardware configurations explained as below under the heading “How to mount the mirror”.

The coated hardboard back and ABS plastic backed mirrors can be used inside or outside and will hold up to mild weather conditions.

For the ultimate in durability and longevity we recommend using a steel backing for outside. The steel-backed mirror is strong and the lens is sealed allowing the mirror to stand up to all but the worst of weather conditions. The steel backed mirrors are being used in many outdoor applications including driveway exits, mountain roads, parking lots and construction sites.

On all of the mirrors made for outside use and including the Coated hardboard and ABS backed mirrors, have a molded rubber seal around the perimeter of the mirror for added protection and strength. The inside-use-only mirrors also have a rim however some mirrors (starting with SA-PLX…) have a thin plastic seal around the outside edge, which is fine for inside use. The RP-xxx and AL-xxx models have the same heavy-duty rim on both the inside and outside use models but not sealed for water resistance or glued for wind resistance.

Where there is exposure to rain, wind and/or freezing and thawing (even without wind), you should consider the steel backed mirror for longevity.

Any area protected from wind inside or outside the office, home, garage, factory or any other location protected from high winds, the ABS or coated hardboard backed mirrors are a good choice and will last a very long time. NOTE: If there is intense sun exposure to the back of the mirror, we suggest going with the steel back.

Additional Note: If you are going to order a 48” mirror, I suggest ordering one with steel backing, regardless of where it is going. The hardboard back tends to bend with the weight of the large mirror.

What are the mirrors themselves made of?

ACRYLIC - The Acrylic mirror has the same reflectivity and clear reflection as glass and naturally reflects UV rays. Acrylic does not yellow or harden from exposure to sunlight. Acrylic mirrors are the most common type of convex mirror used. They are made from mirror-grade virgin acrylic with a silver, or powdered aluminum, coating on the backside. The mirror coating is covered with environmentally safe water based silver-gray epoxy paint. Acrylic mirrors are shatterproof meaning if you were able to hit the mirror hard enough to break it, the lens will crack but normally not fall apart. Acrylic is difficult to break and often advertised as unbreakable however they can be broken. Because of their cost, shatterproof properties and natural UV resistance, acrylic is the most commonly used type of convex mirror. The image reflection is the same as Glass and one would fine it difficult, if even possible, to see any difference if placed side-by-side to a convex glass mirror. NOTE: Please do not compare our Acrylic mirrors to the small inexpensive stick-on mirrors found at auto shops and department stores. The large Acrylic convex mirrors we sell are far superior in quality, reflectivity and durability.

GLASS – Convex glass mirrors are great mirrors. They have excellent reflective properties and are almost scratchproof. Being very hard and ridged is why it is very difficult to scratch glass mirrors. Unfortunately being so hard and non-flexible allows them to shatter into sharp pieces when broken. IF THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DANGER OF BEING BROKEN then glass works great. We absolutely DO NOT recommend glass mirrors in public areas or places where a person or child could break the mirror. When a glass mirror breaks the pieces fall out and can be extremely dangerous to anyone under the mirror or stepping on the broken glass. On the other hand, glass can be cleaned with paper towels and resists harsh chemicals which may be the perfect material needed in some situations. There is a glass product we sell with a shatterproof sticky tape coating in the back of the mirror. This will reduce the chance of the glass pieces from falling out of the frame if broken. The Shatterproof glass does NOT imply that is more difficult to break. It is just a safer option if a glass mirror is something preferred. Glass in only available in the convex (160 degree) or flat profiles. There are no domed glass safety mirrors made.

Polycarbonate – For the sake of keeping this simple, Polycarbonate mirrors are just like Acrylic mirrors. Being a lightly softer material, they are virtually unbreakable. Polycarbonate can be folded without breaking. The Impact strength is almost off the chart compared to Glass and many times stronger than Acrylic. The down side to polycarbonate is the cost. I would only recommend the polycarbonate lens if the mirror is placed in a location where something may hit it. It is also slightly less resistant to being scratched than the Acrylic however if you feel that the mirror is a target for vandalism or in a place where it could likely be hit, the Polycarbonate options would likely outlast Glass and Acrylic.

Stainless Steel – Use stainless steel when glass, acrylic or polycarbonate cannot be used. An example is for use in the food processing industry. Stainless steel mirrors have excellent reflective properties with # 7 or better finish and are made from 304 Stainless. The reflective properties are very good but slightly less than glass. They are more expensive than all other types of mirrors and they can be bent if hit. Stainless steel will not break and even if dented they can still work but enough damage will cause them to be useless. When outside, over time stainless steel may form a coating, which looks like a haze but can be polished off and restored to the original finish. However, care must be taken when cleaning the mirrors. Only use a clean soft cotton cloth or material suited for polishing to avoid scratching the polished finish. The good part of Stainless Steel is that almost any non-abrasive cleaner can be used to clean the mirror.

How do I decide whether to use an acrylic or glass mirror?

For rough conditions where the mirror could be broken, you will want to use an acrylic mirror, because they are very difficult to break and will not shatter. If there is little chance of the mirror being hit or subjected to rough treatment and you do NOT have a safety issue, then a glass mirror will more than meet your needs. The glass mirrors are more resistant to scratches and normal glass cleaner can be used. There is very little if any difference in the reflective qualities of glass compared to acrylic (you may get an argument out of someone if you quote me on that one but we have placed the two side-by-side and can not tell the difference!). The Acrylic mirrors are difficult to break and there is much less danger of being cut from broken acrylic than from broken glass. On the negative side, you should be careful to only clean the acrylic with mild soap and a clean cotton cloth (An old T-Shirt works great!). You can also use products on the market made specifically for cleaning acrylic. Lemon Pledge© works well! Outside, the acrylic seems to resist water spots better than the glass so acrylic doesn't need to be cleaned as often. Most customers asked, have never needed to clean their mirror so cleaning does not seem to be an issue.   

How do I mount my mirror?

For the convex and roundtangular mirrors - All mirrors come with mounting hardware, which includes a ball swivel on the back, which attaches to a wall mount bracket. All INSIDE USE mirrors have the centered single mount. All OUTSIDE USE mirrors up to 18” diameter also have the centered single mount. Outside use mirrors starting with the item number RP-xxx have a stronger heavy- duty ball swivel centered on the back of the mirror. Those mirrors are most easily attached to a wall, post, tree or pole. The outside use mirrors starting with SA-xxx, and are 26” and larger, have two standard ball swivel mounts attached to the mirror (called a “Double Mount”) with two extension arms to hold the mirror. Those mirrors are most easily attached to an overhang or a location where the mirror is held normal to the surface it is mounted. The double mounts are not easily attached to trees or posts or flat walls without some creative thinking.

Brackets can be installed on a wall, tree, or most fixed objects with bolts or large screws. Note: Before the ball swivel can be repositioned you must loosen the three screws around the ball. After you have positioned the mirror, tighten the screws to lock the ball from moving.

For outside where there is no existing place to mount a mirror, I can suggest three methods.
The first is to use a metal fence post similar to the one stop signs are mounted on. The posts can be purchased at hardware stores for a few dollars but you should call first. Not all stores carry the posts. A post driver (around $15.00) or a large hammer can be used to drive the post into the ground. Because the post already has holes in it, you can easily bolt the bracket to the post. The drawback to the metal sign post is that the wind will tend to cause the mirror to wobble side-to-side mush like a stop sign on a windy day. 

The second method is to use a 4"x4" pressure treated wooden post, which can be found at any hardware store. You can dig a hole and mount it into the ground or place some cement around the post after placing it into the hole. I suggest digging no less than 12 to 18 inches deep where the ground is soft. The depth really depends on the soil you are placing it in. The nice thing about using the wood post is that wood screws can be used to mount the mirror and wood does not allow the mirror to swing side-to-side in the wind. 1 1/2 inch x 3/8 inch screws will work well.

The third method is to sink a 10 foot 1 1/4 inch to 1 1/2 inch galvanized pipe 1 to 2 1/2 feet into a post hole, then fill it with concrete. You should use three lines (string works well) to tie down the pipe while it is drying. Make sure the line is tied tight enough to the pipe to prevent it from slipping down while the concrete is drying. (Start about one foot from the end of the string and wrap the string around the pipe several times (about 5 feet high). Use the extra foot we left at the beginning to tie the string to the pole so the wrapped portion will not slip down the pipe. Next run the string down to a stake. Repeat this for each of the three strings. Position the stakes equally around the Pipe so that it will stand vertical. You can use a level to make it perfect.) After the concrete sets up-around one day-you can mount the mirror by drilling two holes through the pipe using the bracket as a guide. You can also use small muffler clamps to hold the bracket to the pipe. The clamps are easier to install but can be difficult to find. (I found them at an auto parts store.) Finish the job with an end cap on the top of the pipe to prevent water from filling the pipe. (in looking back, I would suggest putting the end-cap on as the first step. You may also want to drill your holes before setting the pip into the ground.) The mirror will mount to the mounting bracket the same as any other installation.

The Dome mirrors (with a backing) and flat mirrors have brackets much like picture frames. You put screws on the wall then hang the mirror on the screws. I suggest using a level when putting in the second screw. The mirror will hang crooked if the screws are not level. Lens-only domes (no backing) have a screw hole in the flange where a screw is used to hold the mirror to a wall. “Do not tighten the screws or you will crack the mirror flange”. You will only need to hold the mirror flush against the wall so use a hand screwdriver, not an electric drill when tightening the screws. Domes with the spring mount are easy. Just attach the spring anchor hook to the wall then attach the spring to the hook.

The Drop-in ceiling dome is made to replace a 2' X 2' ceiling tile.

The hardback Full Dome is mounted made to be suspended by a chain or by wire.

The non-backed full dome mirrors have a 1.5 inch flange with screw holes in the flange. Those mirrors can be mounted directly against a ceiling.

The pendant (for a camera) is made to mount on a conduit pipe similar to a ceiling fan extension pipe. The conduit or pipe is not included but can be purchased at most home/hardware stores like Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace, etc.

Are there alternate ways of mounting mirrors?

Yes. For special locations you can consider mounting mirrors on a pole purchased separately--such as a fence post, etc. You can also use a galvanized pipe, which is available at Home and Hardware stores. Mount the post by digging a 2 ½ foot hole filled with concrete and topped with an end cap. Note: The 4"x4" wooden post is the method I recommend for most applications.

For mounting from a ceiling or straight out from a wall, we sell extension brackets. The RH100 is 14" long and will work for a mirror up to 26" in diameter. The RH200 is 25 1/2 inches long and is used for the 30 and 36 " mirrors. Note: You can use the RH200 on any of the mirrors having the swivel mount. The extension brackets also have an adjustment of up to 45 degrees. (Click here to see the extension bracket

How do I clean my mirror?

Acrylic mirrors should be cleaned with a soft cotton cloth and water. You can use mild soap and clean sponge to get off the tough stuff. An old T-Shirt works great as the cloth. (NEVER USE PAPER TOWELS) Suggestions for removing scratches are Lemon Pledge or TurtleWax WET'n Black Professional Tire Dressing (It is a clear liquid in a spray bottle purchased at most automotive supply stores).

For the glass mirrors, any glass cleaner may be used. (DO NOT USE GLASS CLEANER ON ACRYLIC MIRRORS.)

Why can't I order extra-large mirrors through the web store?

Extra-large mirrors require larger boxes which can not be shipped via UPS or Fed Ex.. The items must be shipped via a trucking company and must be calculated on a case-by-case basis.