How to Reframe Antique Mirrors
As antique mirrors get older, they sometimes become damaged. The silvering inside the glass can begin to erode, due to exposure to moisture. Rather than throw the mirror away, you can reframe the mirror. Old frames are sometimes more valuable than they look, so take any antique mirrors to be valued before you begin replacing their frames. If you find that the frames are simply old and are not valuable, you can proceed with the steps below.
Step 1 - Remove the Old Frame
Antique mirrors are usually attached to their frames with very small screws, which should be visible on the back. Unscrew each of these and lay them aside to be reused (if possible).
You will then need to pry off the frame. Push the frame apart with the edge of the screwdriver, but take care not to damage the front of the mirror. Discard the back of the frame if it is water-damaged or in any way corroded. Keep the front of the mirror if it is a valuable piece.
Step 2 - Take Measurements
The next step to reframing antique mirrors is to measure the outer edges of the mirror and the surviving frame. You will need to determine how wide the frame will have to be before you try to replace the back of the frame. You can then travel to your local home improvement store, where you can find suitable pieces of backing material.
Step 3 - Choose Materials for the Front
Antique mirrors also have front frames. If yours is damaged, take the measurements you took for the edges of the glass itself and look in the store for suitable molding. You will find a range of decorative moldings to choose from, so you will most likely be able to find one that approximately matches your antique mirror. You may paint this decorative molding to suit the age of the mirror. Or you can varnish it in order to preserve the effects of the mirror.
Step 4 - Put It Together
You can glue your molding to the edge of the mirror and use the screws which you had retained to secure the frame at the back. Make the backing frame by cutting down a piece of wood to the right size and then trimming it to suit the edges of the glass. Backing frames should hold antique mirrors in position, so take care to ensure that the bottom of the frame is screwed in tightly.
Screw the frame together and fold the corners around so the frame is secure. If you notice are gaps when you finish, you can fill these with wood putty or caulking. You want to ensure that no further moisture reaches the silvering in antique mirrors.