Help with selecting Round Convex Traffic and Safety Mirrors

***Selecting the right mirror size and style can be confusing!***
Below are suggestions to consider when selecting a safety mirror:   -

***Several questions to ask in order to make an informed purchase.***

1) What Size mirror will best fit your need?

2) What function is the mirror intended to help resolve? What is it that you want to see in the mirror's reflection?

3) Where will the mirror be located? Indoors, Outdoors, wet or dry conditions, subject to wind ...etc.

4) What kinds of surface areas are available to hold the mirror, a wall, post, ceiling, tree etc.?

5) What are the chances of something or someone damaging the mirror?

We have provided information below to help answer these questions.


* Determine (in feet) the approximate distance you would normally be from the mirror, when you are looking at it.

This is where we start when determining the size mirror needed. The number of feet you are from the mirror is approximately equal to the needed mirror size in inches. For example: Let us say the estimated distance is around 20 feet from the mirror. In this example, you will want somewhere around a 20" diameter mirror. There are two available sizes that could work, an 18" in the smaller size and 26" at the larger size. (There are no 20" mirrors)

HINT:   In the next step we will estimate the distance and size of what you are wanting to see, to determine which size would be best, or if a convex mirror can be used to do the job.

NOTE:   The distance a person is located from the mirror when wanting to use it, is flexible for all the mirrors, especially with the larger sizes. Continuing with the above example using a distance of 20 feet, an 18" mirror or a 26" mirror could work. The range of distance each mirror will accommodate is approximately 1 and 1/2 times the diameter of the mirror in feet. As an example, an 18" mirror is effective up to 27 feet away ((18"+9")*1 foot). A 26" mirror is effective up to 39 feet away. Now that we have an idea of the size mirror that could do the job, we will determine if the object (or area) being viewed, can be effectively seen using a convex mirror. We will call that object or area the "TARGET".

2) Effective View Distance - What are you wanting to see? What is the target? -

NOTE:   What are you wanting to see? How large it is? For example: Is it a laptop sized object, a person's size or something like the size of a car.

* Estimate how far away the target will be from the mirror when you want to see it.

Technically speaking, all mirrors provide an infinite reflection, however, unless you are wanting to see something larger than a car, any object beyond 400 feet will appear so small, it would be difficult to see in the mirror's reflection. Effectively seeing a person or to watch a doorway more than 50 feet away from the mirror is difficult. For objects the size of a briefcase, the mirror should be no more than 25 to 30 feet from the object.

Use the following view-distances to determine if a convex mirror could work. Your decision will be based on what you want to see and the distance that objects would be from the mirror.

*** Under 400 feet for Auto traffic - under 50 feet for persons - under 30 feet for laptop sized objects ETC...***

The above distances are from personal observations. The suggested view distance is the farthest realistic distances we feel an area or object can be seen. A person's eyesight and the amount of clutter in the area being viewed can impact the effective distance the mirror provides. Clutter around the observed object (or target) may also require you to select a larger size mirror.

Use the following view-distances to determine if a convex mirror could work. Your decision will be based on what you want to see and the distance that objects would be from the mirror.

*** Under 400 feet for Auto traffic - under 50 feet for persons - under 30 feet for laptop sized objects ETC...***

If your target is closer than these distances it will be easier to see it. For example, anything LARGER than a cell phone, located 10 to 15 feet from the mirror will easily be seen. If the target area is relatively close to the mirror, you may consider a smaller size.

We will continue using the example of standing 20 feet away from the mirror. As an example, we want to see a doorway that is 35 feet down a hallway. A doorway is roughly the size of a person, so if the estimated maximum distance, a person can be seen, is around 50 feet away, then 35 feet fits comfortably into that range.

Based on the above calculations, we now believe a convex mirror could work in this situation. We also know that an 18" mirror (or a 26" mirror) will be the size needed for this situation.

NOTE:   Check to see if your calculated size mirror will fit into the location you're intending to mount it.

HINT:   In the next step it is important to know the enviornment where the mirror will be installed. Does the mirror have to be weatherproof or be subject to any other special environmental exposure like high wind etc?

3)BACKING - The type of mirror backing correlates to the environmental conditions the mirror must withstand. -

* The back will determine if the mirror can go outdoors or if it is only to be used indoors. The most common backs used in outdoor conditions are the galvanized steel. There are however several options depending on the environment where the mirror is to be installed.

NO BACKING - INDOOR USE ONLY - These mirrors have the swivel mount glued directly to the back of the mirror lens. They cost less and work well for indoor and dry conditions. Occasionally getting these mirrors wet is not a problem as long as it isn't in constant dampness. Over a long period of time the larger sizes (30 and 36 inch) tend to sag a little due to not being supported around the mirror edge. However, the mirror will still perform as intended. Not having a protective rim around the lens can also be a potential problem if something strikes the edge. Without having any protection, the lens can be more easily damaged.

The mirrors with no back are great for those areas inside a building and in locations where there is little chance it will be hit on the edge.

BROWN HARDBOARD - INDOOR USE ONLY - These mirrors are also less expensive and limited to an indoor and dry environment. The chance of sagging on the larger sizes is extremely reduced and there is better protection around the edge of the mirror. NOTE: The “RP...” and “AL...” mirrors with the brown hardboard backer have a thick rubber rim where the SA... mirrors have a thin but effective adhesive tape. If there is a high chance of the mirror edge being hit, the “RP.. or AL..” part numbered mirrors should be considered because they stand a better chance of survival.

ABS PLASTIC - INDOOR or OUTDOOR USE - The ABS backed mirror is a very versatile mirror. The ABS back is waterproof, and will hold up to moderate weather conditions. They all have a thick locking rubber rim to protect the edge. The smaller sizes under 30" will stand up to higher wind conditions. Because ABS plastic will flex, the larger sizes may wiggle high in winds. The only drawback to the ABS back is that ABS is not UV Proof and over time will become brittle if exposed to direct sunlight, every day, throughout the day. The ABS backed mirrors are an excellent choice for outside, protected and/or shaded areas.

NOTE:   The default backing for the "Mild weather Use" SA mirrors is the ABS back. Go to “Convex mirrors/Outside Mildweather Use” for those items.

POLYCARBONATE PLASTIC - OUTDOOR or INDOOR USE - Polycarbonate is classified as "Unbreakable". It will not rust and will stand up to wet conditions. While the Polycarbonate backed mirrors are a new design, they seem to be proving themselves to be reliable and versatile. The Polycarbonate back is a great choice for about any situation.

A note about high wind conditions:   We cannot guaranty the swivel mount, on the large sizes, will retain at the set angle in high wind conditions. If you know the wind will be often times 40 MPH and greater, and the size you will need is greater than 26", then you may need to check the mirror angle to see if it is holding. You may also consider the heavier steel backed style.

GALVANIZED STEEL - OUTDOOR USE - The galvanized back is the most commonly sold mirror. Galvanized steel resists rust, is UV and heat proof and will stand up to windy weather. The 20 gauge galvanized steel is laminated to a hardboard back to increase the strength allowing the mirror to stand up to higher winds with little flexing when compared to the ABS backed mirrors. All outdoor use mirrors have a protective rim around the lens which adds strength to the mirror and protection to the mirror edge.

STAINLESS STEEL - OUTDOOR USE - The Stainless Steel back has everything the above galvanized steel back has. It is weatherproof, UV light proof and additionally more resistant to a caustic environment. For example, close to the beach where the salt can cause rust to form on about any metal surface. In those conditions you may want the stainless steel back over the galvanized or if you just don't want to see any rust. There is no advantage to strength when comparing the stainless to galvanized steel backs. Both are laminated to a hardboard back for additional strength and have the protective bumper rim around the lens.

NOTE:   Galvanized steel may, over years in full weather conditions, become a little rusty but it will be many years before its strength is compromised.

4) Mounting - All the mirrors have the adjustable swivel mounts and mounting hardware. -

We have the single, centered (one) mount and the double (two) swivel mount configurations.

The single centered mounts are easiest to install on flat walls, wooden posts, trees, etc. All sizes from 9" through 18" have a single center mount. All 26" through 36" a have a single centered mount with the exception of the part numbers starting with "SA", which have the double swivel mounts.

For the "SA" mirrors, 26" and larger, with two(2) swivel mounts, they are attached using two extension arms. TIP: Go to the bottom this page and click on the Illustrations showing mounting configurations for a better understanding of the double mount mirrors.

All "RP" mirrors have a Heavy-Duty single centered mount, strong enough to hold the mirror steady. The centered swivels are also easiest to adjust the desired angle when you install them. On the other hand, the extension arms on the Double Mount mirrors are ideal for attaching to an over-hang, standing up from the top of a wall or extending out perpendicular to a wall.

All "SEAL-TITE" mirrors have a single centered mount

5) Selecting the material the Mirror Lens is made from: -

NOTE:   All the lens types have an excellent reflection, so much so, that just by looking at one, you will find it difficult to identify the material it was made from.

For most applications you will want the standard Acrylic lens; however you can choose from multiple materials depending on the environment the mirror will be exposed to.

ACRYLIC - Mirror grade acrylic is UV resistant and shatterproof. They can be broken with a violent impact, but do not shatter into pieces when broken. While all plastic mirrors can be easily scratched, Acrylic is a little more resistant to scratching than the Polycarbonate. NOTE: All plastic will become more brittle in extreme freezing temperatures including the Acrylic. The only reported issue, however, was in a Deep freezer (40 below zero) where a person backed into the mirror and it broke.

POLYCARBONATE - This material is termed as unbreakable because you can actually fold it and not cause it to break. This material is slightly easier to scratch, however the difference between ease of scratching between the two is very small. You may want to consider a Polycarbonate mirror if there is a high probability it will be struck by something. (Example: close to a sidewalk or a location easily reached by pedestrian traffic etc.)

STAINLESS STEEL - UV proof, waterproof, and without saying, steel will not break. It can, however be dented. Also because the "304" stainless steel material used to make these mirrors, is slightly softer than the often thought of "chemical and corrosion proof stainless", it can be scratched. Even though Stainless Steel is much harder than Acrylic, a clean, non abrasive cloth should always be used when cleaning the mirror. Almost any cleaner may be used, however. In the right conditions the 304 stainless materials can become hazy and even show slight rusting over a long time in extreme conditions. If you are close to the ocean and will not be able to periodically clean off the mirror surface, then I would suggest applying a car wax to help seal the surface before using.

GLASS - Most persons are familiar with glass... it is very hard and almost completely scratch proof. UV from the sun is not an issue and extreme cold will not cause a problem. The down-side is that it can be broken. If it is broken, it will completely fall apart into sharp pieces. Glass is great but should be only used in places where the danger of being broken is minimal.


I have discussed much about cleaning because it is a common question. What I have observed is that many mirrors are rarely if ever cleaned. If the mirror is cleaned, a soft CLEAN cotton cloth should always be used to minimize the chance of scratching the mirror surface. I should also mention that plastic material will become more brittle in the extreme cold. Temperatures below 10 degrees (F) will lower the resistance to an impact. This issue should be considered when installed along highways where equipment used to plow the snow off the roadway could potentially throw ice and heavy snow at the mirror. Almost all of the mirrors installed in those conditions were made of Acrylic and we have had very few reported issues, however, if know this could become an issue, Polycarbonate can be considered. If the mirror is used in a walk-in freezer, consider a Polycarbonate or Stainless Steel mirror... or avoid bumping into it and do not adjust the angle without first loosening the screws around the swivel.


RP Round Convex Mirrors

SA Round Convex Mirrors






12 & 18" Mounting Illustrations

26" and larger Mounting Illustrations for SA.. style mirrors