I got my hands on 2 normal mirrors and would like to build a magic mirror. Even after extensive googling I couldn't find an answer.

I know normal mirrors have some reflective (metal?) and paint coating on them and was wondering if one could partially strip the coatings to create a one way mirror?

Another idea I had was to strip the coatings in very thin stripes with coating between them, think Scan Line Interleave but instead of a second image it's coating removed, not removed alternating. But I imagine one would need some serious kit to pull it off as DIY project because of the very small spaces between the lines.

I would love to hear your thoughts if it's feasible/practical or if I should just buy a glass (maybe acrylic) plate and put one way mirror foil on it.

2 Answers 2


You're likely going to run into some issues with the coatings that protect the metal layer. There are several types of glass mirrors: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror#Types_of_glass_mirrors

Typically the layer that reflects the image is silver or aluminum. They are made by taking a sheet of glass, applying a layer of metal, then protecting that metal with additional layers of paint or protective materials. As such first the protective layer would need to be removed, it would depend on what the layer was made of to determine what would be used to remove it. After which some of the metal layer would need to be removed, probably by dissolving. What would dissolve it would depend on what it was made of. After this, a protective coating should be reapplied, or the lightest scratch will take off the mirror material.

It would be simpler to work with a fresh piece of glass and apply silver nitrate directly (as in photo making). Or even easier apply some two way film. Which is tint film that makes any glass a two way mirror.

  • 1
    The last paragraph is the best answer IMO, because making such a mirror doesn't require starting from a special glass. And if you really want to reuse the frames, if they're particularly nice, then you could get fresh panes of glass cut to your size needs. Lots of window shops can do that type of work.
    – user24
    Aug 20, 2019 at 18:23

If the existing mirror glass is removable, do so, because the chemicals involved in stripping off the existing reflective surface can damage the frame.

I wouldn't recommend scraping the back of the mirror because it might scratch the glass and such scratches may be visible in the finished product.

Instead, use a liquid paint stripper to remove the reflective surface. Wear appropriate safety gear and gloves and make sure to properly ventilate your work area. The mirror's original coating may contain metals and other compounds which can be pretty nasty when combined with the strong stripping chemicals.

Once the original mirror glass is clear and backing free, apply one-way mirror film to the back and put it back in the frame.

  • The reflective surface is almost certainly metal and unlikely to come off with paint stripper. With a glass scraper (or razor blade) you should be able to scrape the coating off glass without damage, but it will be tedious.
    – Chris H
    Aug 16, 2019 at 15:23
  • Why bother stripping the mirror at all if you plan applying the mirroring with a different material? Seems like a toxic messy waste of time. Just start with a piece of glass cut to the dimensions of the frame/original mirror.
    – rebusB
    Aug 20, 2019 at 19:55
  • @rebusB, You are of course correct on this, as long as the existing mirror glass is square or rectangular. I was assuming that the existing mirror had an unusual, hard-to-replicate shape, in which case it might be easier to strip the existing properly fitting glass rather than try to make a fresh piece work. Aug 20, 2019 at 20:11
  • @HenryTaylor - good point re. unusual shape.
    – rebusB
    Aug 20, 2019 at 20:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .