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Clips and track (also referred to as channel) are two common choices for mirror installation. Both are valid methods used by glass and mirror professionals, but certain circumstances indicate the use of one over the other. Understanding your options and the reasons glaziers use each technique is helpful in selecting the best mirror and installation methods for your home.

See Also: Buyers Guide: Vanity Mirror, Framed Mirrors, Antique Mirrors, and Gym Mirrors

Using Clips to Hold a Mirror in Place

Mirror clips are generally made of clear plastic for an unobtrusive look that does not detract from the mirror’s clean lines. Each clip includes a void where a fastener can pass through the clip and into the wall. (It is important for these fasteners to go into studs or be used with appropriate anchors; otherwise the weight of the mirror can actually yank the fasteners out of the drywall and cause the mirror to come crashing down.)

Mirror installation is often permanent or semi-permanent because tough glue, mirror mastic, is used to stick it to the wall. If you want a more temporary installation – because you’re renting your home, you want to remodel in a couple years, or the mirror will be repurposed later – consider mirror clips. They can be used on their own, without glue, so the mirror can be removed intact leaving only a few holes to fill.

Sometimes, clips are the only viable option for mirror installation. If a mirror has curved edges – circle, oval, crescent – resting it on a track or channel is not an option. These mirrors, with the exception of ones that come with hanging brackets, are installed with mirror clips. Although mirror mastic can be used to keep the mirror in place on the wall, additional support from clips, track, or a rigid surface is typically necessary.

Holding a Mirror in Place with a Track or Channel

Track or channel is used to support mirror glass that is not resting on a permanent surface or fastened with clips. A mirror with straight edges can sit on a solid surface such as the floor, trim, or a backsplash and then simply be attached to the wall with glue. However, there can be practical or aesthetic reasons for installing a mirror at some distance from any flat surface. For instance, small wall mirrors are frequently hung at eye level in entryways, and dance studio mirrors are often kept away from the floor so they don’t get kicked.

This is where track or channel comes into play. These metal strips are fastened to the wall where the bottom of the mirror is supposed to go. The mirror glass can then rest on this track for support and stability. Glue or clips are used along with the track to hold the mirror in position. There are two popular options for mirror track:

  • L-bar – The profile of this channel looks like a capital “L,” so it is not really visible once the mirror is installed. It is used when a frameless look is desired.
  • J-channel – J-channel is the same as L-bar except that its profile resembles the letter “J.” When J-channel is used, a thin strip of metal is visible along the bottom of the mirror glass.

Summary

So, to sum it up at a glance, use mirror clips if:

  • You want to install a mirror securely but temporarily.
  • A mirror has curved edges and does not include brackets for hanging.

Use L-bar if:

  • The mirror has straight edges and will not be resting on a permanent surface.
  • You want a frameless look without conspicuous metal elements.

Use J-channel if:

  • The mirror has straight edges and will not be resting on a permanent surface.
  • You want a thin strip of metal along the lower edge of the mirror.

Explore your options for mirror styles and installation by consulting the professionals at ABC Glass and Mirror. Our in-house experts can discuss mirror possibilities over the phone, or we can schedule a free in-home meeting with one of our mirror specialists. Call today – (703)257-7150.

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