A two way mirror, a mirror that is transparent on one side and reflective on the other, is created by placing a layer of semi-transparent film of aluminum on gray-tinted glass. This allows a percentage of light to pass through and reflects the rest.
We have all seen a cop drama TV show or film in which a criminal suspect is interrogated while police watch from behind a mirror. Why can’t the suspect see those watching him behind the mirror? The answer lies in the level of lighting in both rooms. The room the suspect is in is kept very brightly lit, so that the light in the room reflects off the mirror’s surface. The observation room containing the police, on the other hand, is kept dark, so that little to no light gets through the glass. As a result, the suspect sees only his own reflection and the police see into the suspect’s room clearly. If the lights in the suspect’s room were suddenly turned out, or the lights in the observation room suddenly turned on, then the two way mirror would become a window. It’s the same sort of effect you see in a mirrored office building at night — if there is a light on in one of the offices, you can see into that office just fine.
- The glass is flatter than the acrylic and has a slight bronze tint.
- The glass is only reflective from one side, the observer is able to see straight through it, but from the other side, all the people are able to see is a regular mirror.
- We can temper the glass to increase its strength by 10x.
- The glass is rated for outdoor use and has a highly durable coating which can be cleaned by standard glass cleaners such as Windex with ammonia.
- 70% Reflective, 11% transparent for maximum privacy
- Add window tint to non-reflective side to further increase privacy.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Two Way Mirror
- Finishing Nails
- 2×4 Wood
- Measuring Tape
- Plaster Trowel
Installing a two way glass mirror is as easy as installing an indoor window, but care should be taken that the right side of the mirror is facing the way you want it to. A two way mirror is actually two panes of glass pressed together. Before they are pressed together, one pane of glass is created exactly like a mirror in a process which is called silvering. On the other side of the same pane of glass a reflective metal like nickel, silver or tin is applied. Then the other pane of glass is fused on top of the painted metal side. This allows light to be reflected forward, so that somebody standing on the silvered side cannot see anything, while someone on the other side can see straight through.
Step 1 – Get Your Two Way Mirror
The two way mirror you should purchase or construct should already have a frame so that it is ready to be placed into the wall.
Step 2 – Mark and Make a Hole in the Wall
Measure the two way mirror you have, making sure that you are also measuring the frame as well, and mark on the wall you will be cutting into. Also remember that you will be constructing a frame inside the wall as well, so add another two inches on the top and bottom to account for it. Refer to your house blueprints or consult a professional to make sure the wall you will be cutting into is not a load bearing wall. Also refer to your local codes and make sure you are not in violation of any restrictions set by the state. Once you have marked where you are making the hole, use the hammer and saw to cut into the drywall and saw the frame inside the wall. DO NOT cut more than you need to out of the wall.
Step 3 – Construct a Frame inside the Wall
Measure out and build a frame for the two way mirror by cutting your 2×4 to be placed on the bottom and the top where you have cut on the frame inside the wall. Use screws and the drill to firmly put them in place.
Step 4 – Put in Your Two Way Mirror
Put in the framed two way mirror making sure that the correct side is facing the right direction. If you put the mirror in the wrong way it will take a lot of time and effort to take it back out and turn it around. Hammer in finishing nails to firmly put the two way mirror in place. Make sure that you hammer the finishing nail all the way into the frame of the two way mirror, otherwise, you will have a piece of metal protruding that is unsafe. Use the plaster trowel to spread plaster over the area where you placed the finishing nail. Once the plaster dries use the sandpaper to sand it down smooth. Plaster any areas around the frame in the wall, let it dry, and sand it down.
Tempered glass is heat-treated to increase the strength 10x. In addition, if tempered glass should break, it breaks into small shards which are less sharp than regular glass. The main disadvantage of tempered glass is that it causes distortion, similar to a fun-house mirror effect. For that reason, it’s generally not recommended unless going in a public installation.
Yes, we offer 1″ insulated sound proof glass. Please contact us with the size and quantity you need and we can send you a price quote.
Yes, we are able to laminate the two way mirror to other layers which offers bullet resistance. Minimum thickness is 1″ for the lowest level of protection. Please contact us with the overall size and quantity you’re looking for and we can send a price quote. Typical lead time is about 1 month.
We sand all the edges to prevent cutting, which is also referred to as “seaming” glass. A polished edge using increasingly fine belts until the edges are smooth.
Yes, we sell clear two way mirrors, also known as “military grade” two way mirrors or VanityVision mirrors, on our smart mirror page.
With non-tempered mirrors, the score-and-break method is used with a glass cutting wheel, just like regular glass. Tempered glass can’t be cut.
They are similar. A TV mirror is designed to allow more light through, making it more transparent and less opaque than your typical two way mirror. A VanityVision TV mirror and VanityVision smart mirror are the same thing.
For security and privacy applications, the mirror side should be closer to those being observed.
For most projects, glass is better. The glass has the advantage that it is only reflective in one direction, whereas the acrylic is reflective both ways. This means that the acrylic only works if one side is close to pitch black, but the glass will work in most situations where the observation side is somewhat darker than the side being observed.
These two terms actually mean the same thing. A “one way” mirror describes the light going in only one direction–back at you. You can only see through it “one way,” from the backside. A “two way” mirror describes a mirror that you can see through, depending on the right circumstances. In other words, when light hits the surface of a two way mirror it reflects back at you while simultaneously reaching the observer on the other side.
We offer full fabrication services, please contact us with the size, quantity, and diagram in JPG or PDF format for a quote.
We are standing by to cut and package your mirror immediately. Untempered glass is typically shipped within 1 day, tempered glass takes about 1 week.
Yes, we can laminate the two way mirrors to clear glass to enhance safety.
Our glass is exactly the same strength as regular glass. If you need a high level of strength, the 1/4″ thick acrylic mirrors can easily withstand a high-speed impact from a blunt object such as a hammer. The glass is brittle unless you get it tempered, which increases the strength by 10x
For glass we recommend UV glue or CRL black mirror mastic. We recommend you practice first on a sample piece to make sure you are satisfied with the effect before trying it on larger mirrors.
The easiest way to figure this out is to put your fingernail against the mirror. If there is a gap between your finger and its reflection (i.e., you can see the entire tip of your finger in the mirror), it is the uncoated side. If there is no gap between your finger and its reflection, it is the coated side.
96″ x 130″
3.3 lb / sq ft
It’s very unlikely that our mirrors will break in transit. Our mirrors are fully insured and packaged in custom boxes and wrapped in strong, flexible packing materials to ensure that they’re well-protected during transit. If they should arrive broken, send us a picture of the broken glass and the outside of the box, and we will send replacements right away.
The glass mirrors work great outside and as windows. The acrylic mirrors don’t work outside because moisture damages the coating.
A camcorder with a long recording time or webcam attached to your computer with recording software installed are the best tools to record for extended periods.
The coating of the glass is extremely durable and can be cleaned with any standard glass cleaner such as Windex and paper towels.
Please contact us with the size and quantity and we’ll send a price quote.
Discounts are automatically calculated by our shopping cart. If you are ordering more than 5 of a size, please contact us for a price quote.
We don’t provide directions telling people how to make their own two way mirrors because it involves handling extremely hazardous chemicals and we don’t want anyone to get hurt attempting to do so. It’s easier, less dangerous, and less expensive to buy one from us pre-made. If you attempt to make them on your own, be sure to invest in a hazmat suit to prevent heavy metal poisoning.
The easiest way to test the lighting with just a small piece is to cut a hole in a large piece of cardboard and place the sample over the hole. This will allow you to judge the reflective properties in a larger area.
Two way mirrors can be framed just like regular glass. Many standard sizes can be found in local stores such as Wal-Mart, such as 8″x10″, 10″x13″, 11″x14″, 16″x20″, 18″x24″, 24″x36″
Glass two way mirrors work great in a shower. You’ll want to make sure you order tempered glass or even tempered laminated for enhanced safety. If you send us a diagram including any holes you want drilled, we can send a custom quote.