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While shopping for mirrors seems pretty straight forward, you may be surprised by the variety available. Aside from size and frame distinctions, different mirrors have differing surface shapes and backing materials. These can affect what they're used for, as well as how long they last.
Silver vs. Aluminium
Mirrors generally come backed with either silver or aluminum. Silver-backed mirrors cost more, but that isn't an indicator of quality. In fact, most people couldn't tell the difference just by looking at their reflection. Aluminum tends to corrode faster, but silver tarnishes faster. Neither should be a problem with appropriate sealing.
There are only two times backing truly makes a difference. The first is when purchasing a bevelled mirror, or other mirror made with thicker glass. For these mirrors, silver lasts longer. (Though it is fairly easy to get a mirror re-silvered.) Secondly, for those consumers looking for an environmentally-friendly choice, aluminium and copper-free (and very expensive) silver backed mirrors make better options as a copper byproduct is used to help silver backing bond to glass.
Style and Purpose
The majority of mirrors for sale in home decorating or gift stores will have a flat, or plane, surface. These come in every sheet shape available - traditional rectangles and squares to intricately cut designs to match or mimic classic architecture.
Mirrors enhance the home, lighten dark areas, help small rooms appear larger and can add to any decorating style. Because they reflect light and create secondary spaces in the home, they also have a strong impact on emotions.
Mirrors are so significant that the ancient design principles of Feng Shui has its own rules regarding their placement. When you reflect good things, you double the good in your life. Feng Shui also uses mirrors to deflect negative things. A ba gua mirror - a round mirror in a yellow or red octagonal frame - is intended specifically for this purpose.
Though not as common, both concave and convex mirrors can be found in home furnishing stores. Concave surfaces bend in, while convex bend out. Both reflect images while magnifying them in different ways. While small units can liven up a calm space, they can easily add chaos to a busy one.
Mirrors make excellent gifts, but the variety can be overwhelming. Its important to know what affects quality, durability and price, as well as which styles best suit your needs.