Framing a Bathroom Mirror

Sometimes the pretty pictures you see on Pinterest claiming to be quick and easy are actually NOT quick and easy!

Case in point ….  the boys bathroom mirror.  All I wanted was a simple frame to go around the boring builder’s grade mirror!  You know the one, it is installed in most of our homes!  What I got, was a 2 hour session with my left hip holding one end of the molding and my left foot holding the other end, all in an attempt to get the dang liquid nails to ‘set’!   LOL!   😉

Let me show you the before…….

Framing a bathroom mirror

Boring!!!  BTW, sorry I didn’t clean it up before taking the picture!  Definitely keeping it real!  And here is the after…..

Framing a boring bathroom mirror

I am loving the new frame, and now laugh at all the mishaps (you will probably wonder why I didn’t just pack it in).  Look….I even picked up a little for you this time.  =)

Like I said, I saw this all over Pinterest and the Internet.  Me buying some moulding, and framing out this mirror is nothing new.  It has definitely been around the block a time or two…..or even three….

Framing a bathroom mirror

I measured the mirror (and measured again just in case) and headed to Lowe’s to buy the moulding.  Because I had already scouted out what I wanted I was able to convince PT to join me.  Yippee!!!  I was so happy to have him join me in one of my favorite stores!!  I know he wasn’t over the moon to be there, I am just thrilled he stepped through the door at all.  We are making progress…….   I am not happy that he talked me out of the foyer chandelier I wanted to buy…..but it will be coming home with me sometime this year, as that light is in my master plan this year —-> 2014 Goals!   **Let’s be honest and say he did not make the trip intentionally to go to Lowe’s!  We passed it on the way home from K’s hockey game.  Definitely have to tie in errands around the sporting events!

I bought an 8 foot and a 12 foot section of molding.  Based on my measurements, these would work best with minimal waste.  Another motive for buying these 2 sections is that I could have Lowe’s cut each of them in half for me.  No way were they going to fit in my little Kia without some cutting.    Tip:  Lowe’s will do 4 cuts for free, and after that I believe they charge 25 cents per cut.  

Later in the week I measured the mirror again, and then cut each end in a 45 degree angle using ‘Blue Eyes’ (my beautiful compound miter saw).   I should probably not tell you that I did these cuts in my pajamas and bathrobe!!!  Some days I never make it out of them.  Hmmm… yesterday painting the front door!  HA!

Framing a bathroom mirror

Can anyone spot Rudy?  He is never far from our sides.  I can’t tell you how many pictures I delete because he makes an appearance at the last minute.  What do they call that?  Photo bombing?  After making the 45 degree cuts (just to make sure I was cutting them right, I would lay them out on the floor and literally mark the direction with a pencil….did not want to waste any of this wood), I laid them out and glued each end together with liquid nails.  One of the boards was a tiny bit bowed so I put a paint can on it to straighten it out.  Just as a precaution, I did all of them.  Couldn’t be too careful, right?  I let this set up for 24 hours.  BTW–I bought MDF moulding that was already primed white.  Saved a step!

framing a bathroom mirror

I then painted the frame with 2 coats of black satin paint, sanding lightly in between coats.  You can’t see it, but you will need to flip the frame over and paint about 1/4 of the way up from the inner edges.  With the reflection of the mirror, this will show up when you are looking in the mirror.  You will also see that I stapled the boards together.  I have no idea why I did this, other than sometimes I see this on the back of the picture frames I buy, so I thought ‘what the heck, couldn’t hurt’!  As I have not mastered Mr. Blue Eyes yet, the boards did not cut thru all the way, and I took the easy way out and just hammered the extra little piece of wood off.  Not a good idea, as it splintered the wood and took a little too much off.  Hence, the wood filler you see in the above picture!

You will definitely learn from my mistakes….

framing a bathroom mirror

Here is another teaser at the finished product!!!  Please envision me trying to put this up all by myself.  Sizing it up…..trying to put liquid nails all around the edges…..angling it up and under the lights and matching it up how I wanted it.  Do you have that vision yet?

Now please envision it not going up and under the light as I had hoped….me worrying that the liquid nails was going to start setting…..and not getting it situated and placed exactly where it needed to go.  Then envision the top left corner starting to bend under my haphazard attempts.  I swear the frame is much larger than it looks in this picture, especially for one person.  Bottom line?  I quickly pulled it all down, scraped off all the glue and pulled the sides apart.  Why did I think it would be easier to put it up in one piece?  Take it from me……put it up 1 side at a time!!!!  Much easier for one person to handle!

framing a bathroom mirror

After the frame fell/got pulled apart, I thought about it and decided I wanted the frame to go into another piece of wood and not be supported solely by liquid nails.  Another reason for the additional wood is that I made the length of the frame equal to the length of the back splash, leaving little of the frame to have glue on it.  I was afraid that it wouldn’t be enough to support the frame long term.  I found 2 extra pieces of wood from my Subway Art projects, found the studs and screwed them into the wall.  Don’t laugh…..I didn’t have enough wood for 2 equal lengths.  The right side is a little skimpy!

framing a bathroom mirror

This is where it got fun……

I used the liquid nails to attach the lower board, holding it for a few minutes and then securing it with tape.  I then nailed the left and right side sections of the frame to the 1×2 boards with finishing nails, countersinking them.  I followed it up with more liquid nails attaching the top section, pressing for a few minutes and then securing it with tape for good measure.

Framing a bathroom mirror

Not feeling very sure about the tape, I added it some hooks (the kind that get thrown over doors) and as there was too much wiggle room I had to add in some stir sticks.  Did I not warn you that this was not as easy as they all make it sound via Google?!  😉 

At this point I realized I was having some issues with the bottom board.  No matter how much I pressed… much tape I put on it…blah blah blah … it didn’t want to stick!   UGGHHH!

Right after I took this picture, I moved all of this crap aside, climbed up with my back against the wall….left hip holding one side and my left foot holding the other side closest to the toilet.  I sat, and I sat, and I sat. 

I learned that if you lift up your tongue with your teeth there are some really funky blue veins on the underneath part of the tongue.  

I saw way too many grey hairs….. and a few more laugh lines etched around my eyes.  Why in the heck didn’t I bring my Kindle with me!  

I had a lot of time to think.  Some good……some bad!  Once the bad starting taking over I knew it was time to pack it in!  God help me, I do not know why it took me that long.  I will say that it was kind of enjoyable when K came to help me out, holding the right section for a bit.

framing a bathroom mirror

I pulled off the bottom board (it hadn’t set at all), wiped the liquid nails off the mirror and the frame, and pounded 2 finishing nails onto either end of the board.  Look at the photo above.  See the small little piece of wood on the left?  Yep!  There was an identical small piece on the right side as well.  I figured I had nothing to lose by nailing the bottom board to each of these little pieces of wood.  Can you believe that it worked!  There is only one finishing nail on either side of this lower board and it is not going anywhere!

Can you believe that?  No way am I ever going to use liquid nails for this type of project again!!!!

I let everything sit for 24 hours, puttied the corners/nail holes, and touched everything up with more black paint.  I then sanded the areas that I wanted ‘distressed’ and finished it up by wiping dark stain on these areas.  Done!  {sigh}

Remember the before…..

framing a bathroom mirror

and the after…..

Framing a boring bathroom mirror

Love it!

The moulding cost a total of $30, and I used leftover paint and supplies.  Even with all the mishaps, my out of pocket was still only $30.  You could never go by a framed mirror for that price! 

I learned so much with this project.  Yes, Google and Pinterest are great for ideas and instructions, but if something sounds too good to be true it generally is.  My original intent was to anchor the frame onto boards surrounding 3 sides of the mirror, and I didn’t listen to my gut.  I listened to someone else’s gut.

In this case, that was not a good idea!!  =)

Mirror and Cabinet done……now to finish the floor, fix the door and swap out the shower light!  Progress is being made!!  Woo Hoo!!!

What project of yours took triple the time and energy because you listened to someone else’s gut?

framing a bathroom mirror




24 thoughts on “Framing a Bathroom Mirror

  1. Pingback: 40 Home Improvement Ideas for Those On A Serious Budget - DIY Joy

  2. Love listening… yes, I am listening (while I read) you tell your stories. They are marvelous. I have to let you know that after 25 years of being in the same house I am attempting to update our master bathroom (I did NOT say upgrade – two in college and one on a 12 month UNPAID internship – means I have NO money). Anyway, while I love a challenge, I was able to find the mirror for $33 (37×48)… so I’m going to forgo the wonderful experience of trying to make my own frame (although it was on my original list of projects – that my hubby frowned at. What does he know anyway, they are MY projects.
    Anyway, the mirror and lights got hung today. Have to repair the holes in the wall from taking down the old vanity lights. Hey, does anyone need a really old (THICK) 40 x 60″ mirror WITHOUT a Frame? We have stripped the varnish off of the vanity,doors, and drawers and are putting on an ebony stain. THAT’s my story! In order to NOT have to go from a fruitwood (light stain) to the VERY dark ebony (with the thoughts of not having to do a million coats)… we never wiped off the first coat. THREE DAYS later, it is still wet! Wipe it off…. let it dry like a normal stain, then add the next layer. Oh goodness – this is taking FOREVER!
    Anyway, I look forward to continuing being able to read about your adventures! Makes me feel like we might be kindred DIY spirits!

    • Love hearing about your great deal on the mirror Deb! I hear you on the no money thing. I have 2 (my only 2) in college also, and that means trying to update the house while pinching pennies and seeing what I can upcycle, put a new spin on it, and ALOT of sweat equity… labor is generally the big ticket when hiring out. Did you ever get the cabinet to work out? Would love to see pictures!!

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  4. I did the frame thing in my previous home. I bought primed moulding like you but easier than mitering I used those square Rosettes also used by builders to frame doors. After all were painted and dry I successfully used liquid nails by starting on the bottom, let it dry. Then added the sides ( they rested on the bottom while drying.) Last I added the top which also rested on the dried sides.

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  6. I have the same dreaded builder grade mirror. Mine is hung with metal clips that don’t allow the wood to lie flat on the mirror. I noticed that you had something similar (or at least it looked that way from the pictures). How did you work around this?

    • Hi Sue, I do have the clips (2 on the top and 2 on the bottom), but you don’t see them when the molding is up. There is a teeny tiny space between the wood and the glass, which is why I painted the underneath of the wood molding. Shaunna

      • I have similar mirror clips as well. It looks like the ultimate solution is to build a frame or a cleat around 3 sides of the mirror, and affix the moulding to the frame, rather than the mirror, which gives you the extra depth to get around the clips? Ingenious!!!

  7. I’ve been wanting to this for a long time!! Thanks for your post. I was wondering, did any glue work? or did you end up just attaching them to the small boards on the side? I think I’ll give this the ol college try today!

    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It always looks easier than done!! and YOU did a GREAT job!!

    • Hi Mary, The top piece of molding is attached with glue. It is the only one that “stuck”. I will personally try to avoid glue down the road when I do our bathroom mirror, but if I cave and try glue again I will buy the LocTite 3X Pro Adhesive that was recommended by another reader. She used this on 3 of her mirrors just recently. That to me is worthy of trying it out. Good luck today, I hope you share a photo with us!! Shaunna

  8. Okay, now that I’ve finished my stairs finally (don’t EVER want to tackle stair risers again!) framed the builder-grade mirror in my powder room. Didn’t bother with mitering. Used plain 1 x 4s, which are actually only 3 1/2″ wide. Mixed paint with glaze (4:1 ratio glaze:paint) and did 3 coats, topping with poly. LocTite 3X Pro Adhesive. Looks a little Pottery Barn/Crate-Barret rustic, but that’s okay with me for this P.R. – still nice. And I’ll go back and finish the small vanity with the same paint/glaze. (Valspar Fired Earth). Will tackle 3 more mirrors (in 2 bathrooms) with nicer molding, mitering…, now that I have the basics under my belt! Maybe I’ll do them all differently just for the heck of it!

    • I hear you on the stairs, except the banister is my point of contention. I still need one more coat of stain (I am the only one that thinks this). Great job on the mirror, and yes, I think you should do different moldings and cuts for each bathroom. Thanks for the tip on the LocTite 3X Pro, I will definitely be looking into this for our master bath mirror.

  9. What if you don’t have space on the sides of the mirror for boards? I want to do this but to add boards to the sides of the mirrors (I have 3 huge mirrors butted up against each other) I’d have to take them down and cut them. That’s NOT going to happen because I know they’d end up broken. Perhaps something like E6000 glue would work? Something specific for glass?

    • I would personally use the E6000 glue, as I think it holds better than liquid nails (I am not a fan of liquid nails). Let me know how it goes…..

    • Thanks Susie! You are absolutely right about diy projects. The great thing about these projects after it is all said and done? The hilarious stories you have to tell! LOL!

  10. It does look good! I would have given up long before it was finished. Perhaps I would not have tackled it at all.

  11. Thanks, Shaunna! I’ve been looking at this on Pinterest, wanting to try it, but I just didn’t believe I could make it work. Putting small boards around the mirror to anchor it–THAT I think I can do! Woo hoo!

    • Jennifer, Yes……put the 1×2 boards (or whatever depth you have from the mirror edge to the wall) up around the mirror. If you have space between the back splash and mirror, add the fourth board. Seriously would only take you 5 minutes to install this way! Can’t wait to see a picture of your finished product. I will be tackling our bathroom soon!

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