Fixing Mirror Tiles: Preparation
Mirror tiles should be fixed to a flat, even surface. Use a string line stretched horizontally, vertically and diagonally at intervals across the wall to check that the surface is flat. If the wall is substantially uneven you should line it withor thin fixed to battens (see step-by-step photographs). Choose an exterior-grade board for use in kitchens, bathrooms and anywhere else likely to suffer from high humidity.
Ensure that the wall is absolutely free from damp. Make any necessary repairs and allow the structure to dry out before you go any further, bearing in mind that a very damp wall can take anything from six months to a year to dry out completely. New walls, or walls which have been recently replastered, should also be allowed to dry out; again this can take many months. Dampness in a wall can cause the mirror’s silvering to deteriorate alarmingly quickly.
If you decide to use the wall’s existing surface, strip off any wallcovering and make any predecoration repairs necessary to plasterwork, taking extra care to sanddown flush with its surroundings. Self- mirror tiles must be fixed to a non porous surface so all surfaces such as plaster, emulsion paint, plywood, , etc must be well sealed with gloss paint. Then (when the paint is dry) wash the wall down to leave it spotlessly clean and ready for tiling.
To complete the preparation, make sure that the wall is reasonably warm. If the room has been unused for some time, turn up the heating for a few days before tiling to take off the chill. If the wall is simply naturally cold, as it will be if it is an external solid wall, for example, warm it up by providing a little insulation behind a plywood or hardboard cladding or else line the wall with special insulated plasterboard.
There are several methods you can use to secure sheet glass mirrors to a wall or other surface. You can fit them in frames and hang them like a picture, or use supports of some sort to hold them in place. There are three main types of mirror supports available: mirror(suitable for small or medium sizes mirrors), mirror corners (suitable for larger mirrors) which support the mirror at the corners, and mirror clips or mirror edge clips which fit at intervals at the top and bottom or round the perimeter of the mirror. Alternatively, for very large mirrors you can use a timber batten or an aluminium channel strip to support the weight of the mirror, with the other fixings simply holding it flat against the wall.
With mirror tiles, there is nothing very difficult about installing them. The majority are either fixed using separate self-tabs or are themselves ‘self-adhesive’, which means that the sticky tabs are already stuck to the tiles.
It is therefore simply a question of planning the setting out in much the same way as you would for ceramic tiles, peeling off the paper backing that protects the adhesive and pressing the tiles into place. You don’t have to worry particularly about spacing because they sit side by side and you don’t have to go through the messy business of grouting because they don’t need grout. The only part of the job that may bother you is cutting tiles to fit, but really, if you can cut ceramic tiles, you should be able to cut glass and if you can cut glass you can definitely cut mirror tiles. You’ll find that moistening the cutting line with water or white spirit (turps) lubricates the cutting wheel and makes cutting even easier.
You will have to adopt a different method if you want to tile a ceiling with mirror tiles. Although the sticky pads which you use to fix them to a wall do give a very strong fixing, it isn’t quite strong enough to go all out against gravity, especially if the ceiling is subject to movement, as it often is when somebody is using the room above. Here, it will be necessary to fix the tiles with screws driven into the ceiling joists, or into battens nailed between them above the ceiling. Some mirror tile manufacturers will supply pre-drilled mirrors 350 to 1200mm (14 x 48in) long and 255 to 600 (6-1/4 to 24in) wide which should be suitable for use in such areas.
Alternatively you can drill holes in the mirrors yourself. You’ll need a special drill bit called a ‘spear point’ or glass drill. You need to drill very slowly so use a hand drill or, better still, a variable speed. Build up a wall of putty or plasticine round the hole and fill the well with water or white spirit (turps) to cool the drill. As soon as the drill tip pierces the silvering, turn the mirror over and finish drilling the hole from the other side.