What is the Difference between Aluminum, Silver, and Copper Free Mirrors?

Hotel led mirrors
hotel led mirrors

Most of us have visited a furniture shop or a bathroom retailer at least once in our lives to purchase a mirror. It might be because you want to replace an old mirror or buy a new one. Whatever the reason, mirrors are essential for decorating a room and enhance its beauty while also visually enlarging it. In addition, it gives the room more depth too. Apart from their importance as decoration, mirrors are also significant because of their reflective properties that are extremely valuable. A look at the mirror lets you know how you are looking to the outside world at the given moment. 

We have been there when we sneak a peek at the window of a shop we are crossing and try to fix our hair. Off to the office or a party? Enter the building lift and have a good look at yourself in the full-size mirrors. Fix your hair, your makeup, or adjust that tie. The desire to look your best at any given moment is a very humane feeling and gives a boost to our confidence. Mirrors serve that purpose perfectly and are hence, an essential part of our lives. Mirrors have great usefulness, and their decorative properties are also significant.

Mirrors come in all sizes, shapes, and qualities. While some mirrors come framed, others come without any mounting. Oval, round, rectangular, and full-length mirrors are all available and serve different purposes. Some mirrors have wooden frames, while others may have metallic borders around their edges. Some are plain, and others have carved edges. 

Decorative Mirror
Decorative Mirror

There is a wide variety of mirrors and customers have numerous options to select a mirror of their choice. Therefore, when shopping for a new mirror, there are several points of comparison to decide upon the best one for you.

Mirror Coating is one such standard that can form a basis for deciding which mirror to select. Consequently, today we will be discussing mirror coating in detail and shed light upon the three main types of these coatings: aluminium, Silver, and copper-free. While comparing the three types of materials used for coating mirrors, we shall discuss the pros and cons of each while also giving our own opinion on which one is the best. 

What is Mirror Coating?

Mirrors are popular and widely used in decoration because of their reflective properties. This reflection property of the mirror comes from a coating layer deposited on the glass surface. The difference in coating gives value to a mirror and determines its durability and cost of the mirror. Therefore, serious buyers must know about the different mirror coatings before buying a mirror to make a more informed decision.

All coatings are different, depending upon the material used. Some are more reflective; others are more durable and resistant to rust.

HD copper free silver mirror
HD copper-free silver mirror

What are Mirror Coatings Made Up of?

Mirror coatings are mainly of metals like gold, aluminium, silver, copper, etc. All these materials have different properties and the price of a mirror varies depending upon the kind of material used for its coating. Consequently, before purchasing a mirror, it is vital to know what coating material is applied.

You must deliberate upon two significant properties while buying a mirror for both household and commercial use. The first is the percentage of reflection, and the second is the durability or resistance of the mirror to rusting. Different per -cent of materials used in the mirror coating have different reflective properties. Additionally, the ease with which a metal oxidizes also affects the resilience of a mirror.

When looking for a mirror for their homes, people want something that looks nice and doesn’t contain any black spots or wavy/ blurry reflections. These attributes are influenced by the quality of the back coating and the process of manufacturing the mirror. Hence, knowledge about the material used in the back coating of a mirror is crucial to help you decide which mirror will best suit your purpose.

Whether you are constructing a new home or want to upgrade the look of your house or your bathroom, mirrors are an essential accessory. So, how do you go about finding the right one for your home? Surprisingly, when it comes to mirrors, there are a lot of possibilities. One such property is the material used in the back coating of a mirror. Metals are the most commonly used mirror coatings. In this article, we will be comparing three main types of mirror coating: Aluminum, Silver, and Copper-free mirrors.

Aluminum Mirrors

Most modern mirrors are coated with Aluminum as this offers a cheaper option to potential customers. The Aluminum coated mirrors reflect only 90% of the light. As a result, the reflection you obtain from these mirrors is less vibrant and not as colourful as the original object.

 Aluminium mirrors is a popular choice for mirror coatings due to its reflective properties, with the highest reflectance of any metal in the ultraviolet and infrared spectral ranges. It is also widely available across the globe. Hence, aluminium mirrors are a cheap alternative to other types of mirrors available in the market. Aluminium mirrors are used for commercial purposes mainly, such as optical mirrors for telescopes in space to achieve larger bandwidths of light.

Aluminium mirror
Aluminium mirror

However, aluminium quickly reacts with the air and oxidizes, causing the mirrors to rust. This corrosion reduces its reflective properties over time. Thus, aluminium mirrors (though less costly to purchase) are not very durable and must be replaced frequently, causing inconvenience in the long run. Consequently, protective layers are painted over the aluminium mirrors coating to increase its durability. Yet, this reduces the reflectance of the mirrors itself.

Aluminium mirrors is not the desired material to be used for mirrors installed at homes. Although they are a less expensive choice, most of these mirrors have waving issues and a thinner covering; that is more easily scratched. Aluminium being a more reactive metal than Silver, oxidizes significantly faster in the presence of moisture, making it unsuitable for use in a bathroom or on the exterior. Even in high-humidity areas, these mirrors can rust in as little as three months, leaving black edges and spoiling the aesthetics.

Aluminium mirrors are used short-term, cheaper alternatives to the more expensive types of mirrors. For example, you may purchase aluminium mirrors when you shift to a new house and want to cut down on settling in costs.

Silver Mirrors

Silver-coated mirrors reflect about 95% of the light. They are thicker and much more durable than the aluminium ones. These mirrors are also widely popular among women due to their brilliant reflection and warmer color. After all, we all want to look at perfect mirror images before stepping out of their house! Even in the modern days of technology and selfies, mirrors still have their charm. People always want the best quality no matter the budget, and Silver coated mirrors are a perfect option. This coating is an ideal material to be sought after in mirrors installed in households. Silver-coated mirrors are valuable and considered as good quality due to their high reflectance and resistance to corrosion.

Given its properties, silver-coated mirrors are great for bathroom mirrors and other household mirrors as well. They are competitive and efficient. Even if cleaned with more corrosive chemicals, Silver mirrors last longer than aluminium ones. If taken good care of, Silver mirrors can last for approximately three years without undergoing any rusting. Hence, most of the home decorations and bathroom mirrors are Silver-coated, and these mirrors are also readily available in the market. Buyers looking for reasonably priced, good-quality mirrors for the bathrooms and homes can easily opt for Silver-coated mirrors.

Copper-Free Mirrors

We will give a quick breakdown for those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the glass world. Copper-free mirrors are manufactured through a chemical sedimentation process. As is customary, a sheet of specially treated Silver is coated over high-quality float glass, followed by a sheet of a superior metal film in place of copper, and finally, two layers of paint for chemical and physical protection. Lead-free paint is used to create a high-quality copper and lead-free mirror.

Mirrors that are free of copper are categorized as the ‘most modern’ mirrors. Simply put, these mirrors are constructed with a low-lead or lead-free solution, as well as a copper-free solution (obviously). As a result, copper-free mirrors are particularly resistant to moisture and corrosion. Without the copper, this mirror is less likely to fall victim to clouding.

If you are looking for absolute perfection in mirrors, then copper-free mirrors are a true winner in every aspect. They are highly reflective like Silver mirrors but are even more resistant to environmental factors. Additionally, they also benefit the environment by containing less than 1ppm of lead content. Moreover, the process of manufacturing copper-free mirrors further enhances the overall quality of the product. As a result, copper-free mirrors are the best among the three mirror coatings discussed in this article. 

When comparing copper-free mirrors to silver mirrors, we can say that the former is better than the latter in all aspects.

Copper-free mirrors are created with a Silver coating as the primary reflecting material, allowing them to provide the brilliant reflection that we love in the Silver Mirror. However, compared to Silver, it has various other features that make it a superior quality mirror.

Regular Aluminum and Silver coated mirrors include copper and lead, which are highly corrosive and easily oxidized. Removing Copper and Lead from the coatings, and applying Silver Nitrate to give the glass its reflection, Copper-free Mirrors become much more resistant to weathering.

Copper-free mirrors are also much more visible and brighter than aluminium and Silver mirrors. They provide unparalleled protection against oxidization, chemicals, moisture, and scratch while adding beauty and elegance to any room.

Apart from being resistant to humidity, these mirrors are also highly environmentally friendly. For one, manufacturing is not nearly as detrimental to the environment without hazardous chemicals. In addition, when compared to traditional mirrors, they are also very durable. In the long run, Copper-free mirrors are also budget-friendly mirrors due to reduced wear and tear, and consequently, need to be replaced less frequently.

Mirrors that are copper-free aren’t just for the bathroom or even for the house. These mirrors are ideal for use in workplaces, restaurants, retail businesses, and practically anywhere else where a mirror is required. These look fantastic in bedrooms, bathrooms, and even foyers in the home.


How do you know the quality of the mirror?


salt spray test for mirror 2
salt spray test for mirror
  • Heat Test for mirror
heat test for mirror 2
heat test for mirror


In essence, while aluminium mirrors are your cheapest option and Silver mirrors are good quality, durable mirrors; your best bet for long-term, supreme quality mirrors are the copper-free mirrors. Environmentally friendly, with at par reflectance and immense resistance to rusting, these mirrors are worth the investment.

The main benefit of copper-free mirrors is limited corrosion. As discussed, corrosion is the rusting that appears beneath the surface of the coating. Once oxidation occurs, there is nothing that can help us get rid of it. Copper-free mirrors are three times more resistant to corrosion than traditional mirrors. Other than the benefits of along longevity of the mirror, copper-free mirrors are also better for the environment. Without harmful chemicals such as copper sulfate and lead in the manufacturing process, the production of these mirrors is significantly less harmful to the environment.

Always think through and question the mirror coating to make a more informed decision. Consider copper-free mirrors when purchasing a new mirror for your home or business. These mirrors are better for the environment, more durable, and last longer than traditional mirrors.





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