Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How to Build Your Own Mirror Frame–the easy way!

DIY to build your own mirror frame

When I revealed my son’s bathroom makeover here
, I mentioned I’d include some easy tutorials for painting stripes, cutting clean ceiling lines, and last but not least the SUPER easy tutorial of how to build a custom frame for your mirrors!

Material List:
Moulding/Framing of choice – I used primed MDP Base Moulding, super easy, and super cheap
Miter box, or miter saw
Wood Glue
Paint of choice
Adhesive – I used Power Grab Tub Surround

Measure the length (x2) and the width of your mirror (x2) so you know how much moulding you’ll need.  Typically you want to cut your big pieces first, so you may have extra for your smaller pieces if you have any mess ups.  However, as my pieces added up I could cut the length + the width of the frame pieces from one piece of moulding so I just made sure I had all my measurements right before cutting.

mittering molding frame

I measured the length of the bottom of the mirror for the length measurement.  This measurement will be the OUTER measurement of your two 45 degree angles for your bottom and top frame piece. Once I had those cut I held them against them mirror and measured the distance between the two outer angles for the total width of the frame piece. 
When making your cuts with your miter saw just be sure you’re cutting your 45 degree angles the right direction. This is the “trickiest” part of your whole project.

Once I had all the pieces cut I laid them out to be sure I had tight corners and everything measured up correctly – SUCCESS!

frame molding

Using a small amount of wood glue I adhered each corner together, and once dried went back with wood putty to fill in any gaps that occurred.  If you’re picking up wood putty be sure to get the kind that' can be painted once dried.

mittering frame corner

During drying time I used 45 degree angle clamps to be sure each corner had a strong joint and let it dry overnight.

(My unnecessary steps)
I’ve been wanting to try to make my own chalk paint for a painting project for a while, so I took up this opportunity and used Liz Marie’s recipe for Homemade Chalk Paint
(She also does a great comparison of Homemade Chalk Paint versus Anne Sloan Chalk Paint). 

chalk paint materials

Using flat paint (color of choice) and unsanded grout I whipped up my first batch of homemade chalk paint.  I have to admit, I wasn’t THRILLED with it, the texture was rough and not smooth and couldn’t get a lot of “lumps” out of the paint mixture.  However, in the end I love the way it looks on the frame.  I didn’t want ANY gloss to the finish look of the frame, plus wanting a little distressing so it worked out pretty well.

chalk paint frame

Back to the frame tutorial!
One of the BIGGEST problems that actually kept me from making my own frame for a mirror for a long time were those ugly bulky mirror clips, and bottom rail that were on all our mirrors.  Every tutorial I read, they just never seemed to have those clips, and if they did they just removed them and glued their mirror to the wall. I was nervous due to the size of our mirrors of gluing the mirrors to the wall due to the amount of damage that would occur if we, or anyone else, ever wants to completely change out the mirrors.  Well, turns out there’s a totally easy super simple solution for those problems.

the original mirror clips

They make flat laying mirror clips! And they’re super cheap, like $2 for 4 of them. They lay really flat against the mirror so they’re the perfect solution to still have your mirror safely attached to the wall, but no bulk to deal with when adding your frame.

Mirror holders with anchors

Next step was the adhesive to be used for adhering your frame to the mirror or wall (depending on how you wanted it or measured it).  (Side note because the mirror was flat against the corner of the wall I was not able to attach the mirror to our wall, so had to be glued to the mirror)
I lot of tutorials have stated they used Liquid Nails and have had zero problems.  Well, me being the little goody goody I am, when I was looking at all the adhesives, Liquid Nails specifically states which materials it can be used with and mirrors is not one and states it will not adhere well.  I figure with the amount of humidity/heat that accumulates in a bathroom and fog that builds up on mirrors I really wanted an adhesive that was more waterproof and made for that type of “climate’.
That’s when I came across the Power Grab tub surround.  It’s the adhesive that’s used to attach your tub to either your tiles/walls/whatever it’s being surrounded by, and it’s waterproof.  It’s made for “glossy” materials like porcelain/ceramic and glass so I felt a lot safer choosing this for my adhesive.

power grame mirror adhesive

Here’s a shot of the back of the frame of where and how I put the adhesive on… okay, I went a bit glue crazy.  You don’t need THIS much I just was having fun putting it on… here’s the KEY tip to remember.  Do not put it too close to the edge of the mirror, you  may initially thing you want it on the edges to have a tight fit.  However, your mirror will reflect the back of your frame about a 1/4”.  So if you put glue too close to your edge, you’ll see that in the reflection (also why I painted the back of my mirror too). 

adhesive on frame

Then I just climbed up, stuck the frame up, and used painters tape to help secure the frame.  The adhesive states about 2-4 hours but I was in no rush I just left as-is over night.  I didn’t run the shower that first day/night to be sure the heat of the shower didn’t effect the gluing process at all too.

frame adhesive on mirror

Next morning I ran went into the bathroom to pull the tape and see the fun reveal!

PBJstories.com Bathroom Reveal Framed Mirror DIY

It makes SUCH a difference, I love it!
I realized I never took actual “before” pictures because I pretty much jumped into this bathroom makeover with two feet in and forget to do any “before shots”.  Just picture plain white walls, and a boring builders mirror with ugly bulky clips.

PBJstories.com Bathroom Reveal

I hope my little tips of what I did help answer any questions you may have that may be keeping you back from making your own frames!


  1. Love your tutorial! I've been trying to get Jon to do this in our house for quite some time now!

  2. Awesome!!! Makes such an impact in the room and seems easy enough :)

  3. Fab, easy tutorial! I'll be checking back on this when I do my own mirror in a month or two :)
    About the mirror clips...I read one tutorial where the lady just replaced the bulky plastic clip with a big-ish washer and reused the same screw to afix it to the wall. Would this have worked for you, do you think? Cost-wise, it's not a big difference, but for my own project I do already have the washers on hand.

  4. It looks awesome! I have had this on my mile long 'to-do' list forever. Yours looks gorgeous. Now I'm inspired!

  5. My mirror has the light switch in it, so I have been hesitant to do this :( I want to so bad but fear I will mess it up.

    1. How far inset is your light switch?? You could either mount your frame to the wall and just let it overhang onto the mirror a less amount so it goes right up against the light switch?? I have a similar issue in my master bathroom, it's not a light switch but it's an outlet. I plan to just extend the frame on that left side to be measured so it lays directly next to the outlet. (Make sense??)

  6. This turned out so great Pamela. You made it look so easy and it definitely looks professional!

  7. I love this tutorial, Pamela! What a fantastic improvement to those builders-grade mirrors so many of us have in our bathrooms. Definitely filing this one away (on Pinterest, of course!)

  8. what did you do to the mirror rail on the bottom? Take it off? & how

    1. Good point! Wish I had your email to reply to you -- be sure to always leave that when asking questions :)

      I removed it (was just installed with screws) and then used one of the mirror clips like I did on top, on the bottom in the very middle. Then I just slid the mirror into place, and it's being held by two mirror clips on top, and one on the bottom.

  9. I have a question, my mirror has the silver rail all around it. Apparently, the mirror is glued to the wall and the rail is giving it extra support. Should I just place the molding over it? How would I switch it to the mirror clips?

    1. If your mirror is glued to the wall I would leave as is - trying to remove the adhesive from the wall could do more damage. You wouldn't need the mirror clips in this case.
      If you have the silver rails and it's glued I'd just place the molding directly over the railings.
      Hope this helps!

  10. What a great blog! I love the idea of creating my own furniture and really putting a personal mark on my home. I am a massive fan of the classic, antique style and something like this would look great in my own home. I will definitely be giving this a try! Many thanks!

  11. Love it! What a beautiful job! If you're ever doing any other mirrors, do consider www.mirrormate.com though! The frames come pre-cut to your mirror's measurements and there are over 65 styles to choose from. You don't have to cut or paint or anything! They go up in about 20 minutes time and attach directly the mirror, covering clips and all. Just wanted to share! :)

  12. If your mirror has those big ugly clips on the bottom as well, holding up the mirror, will the flat mounts work there too.?

    1. They did for me! You just need all hands on deck to help you lift the mirror up while you remove the old clips, and install the new ones.

      Good luck!

  13. That's awesome! Thanks!!
    You could even use some clear marine adhesive to avoid seeing any white glue reflected off the back of the frame. :)


Love hearing back from my readers, you make my day! Thanks, Pamela of PBJstories

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