Laurel's Adventures in Home Repair
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Mirror Frames - Quick and Easy

Leave the existing frameless mirror on the wall and stick-on a frame

2014 - 2018 - El Paso Home and Smaller Oklahoma House - Before and After

April 20, 2019 - Smaller Oklahoma House Master Bath - Steps Shown

 

Almost everyone has lived in a home where this type of mirror exists....  A regular old, no frills, slab of glass painted silver on the back, mounted onto a bathroom wall. 

They are usually very thin.  If they are large, they can be very dangerous to move if you are not a glass or window professional with the proper suction cup carriers and 2 or 3 strong people to carry it.
If you have replaced a no frills mirror with a nicer framed mirror that hangs on the wall like a painting, you have probably already discovered that these mirrors are not cheap. 

If the mirror is in decent shape with no cracks or chips, why move it at all?  If it is firmly on the wall, keep it there.
 
You can buy your own moulding, make a frame, paint it how you want, and just stick it on top of the existing mirror.

"Stick-it" you say?  Yes, with clear caulk.  You can't nail it, you will break the glass!

With clear caulk, you can carefully remove the frame in the future, if needed. The caulk can be scraped off the mirror with a razor blade.


Before - El Paso master bath vanity wall mirror

If you use some type of glue or clear silicone, you will have to work very hard to remove the residue. So just use the cheaper clear caulk, that goes on white and dries to clear in a couple of days.

The master bath vanity area in the El Paso house was given a face lift prior to selling it in 2018. 

For the mirror, I used white polystyrene baseboard moulding:

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Inteplast-Group-Building-Products-2-375-in-x-8-ft-Interior-Prefinished-Polystyrene-Baseboard-Moulding/50147948

After hand sawing the moulding to size, it was then painted with Valspar Project Perfect Java Brown Satin Latex Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint (bought at Lowes in 2017. No longer sold there).  I just wanted a brown that matched the new light and hinges.

 


After - El Paso master bath vanity wall mirror with polystyrene moulding frame painted brown


Before - Oklahoma small house 1/2 bath
 vanity mirror


After
- Oklahoma small house 1/2 bath vanity
mirror. Wood pine moulding stained
 and then painted with polyurethane finish

April 20, 2019 - Smaller Oklahoma House Master Bath

At this time, we a preparing to sell the smaller house in Oklahoma.  The master bathroom is being given a facelift instead of the more expensive re-model that we cannot afford. 

Dark blue wall paper was taken off and replaced with paint.  The flooring was removed and new tile was placed on and all of the wood was refinished.  A new toilet was installed.  The cultured marble counter top was painted.


Smaller Oklahoma House master bathroom

The last item that needed to be addressed in this bathroom, was the mirror. 

Along the edges of the mirror the telltale signs of age and humidity are showing.  The silver paint is failing and showing black. 

A mirror  frame will cover this up nicely.
 


Water that has crept in along the edges of the mirror
causing the silver paint to fail.

Steps

1) Deal with the mirror clips

Most wall mirrors are held onto the wall with some type of clip.  If the clips are visible in the the front, your frame will most likely cover it.  The goal is to have the frame lay flat against the mirror.  The problem is, these clips keep the frame from laying flat.

If the clips are visible in the front of the mirror, you will need to carve out a section in the back of your moulding to get the moulding to lay flat against the mirror.  If you have the type of clip shown below in Figure A, you will have very little to carve out,

If the mirror is being held on with plastic clips (Figure B), you will want to replace these clips with something that has a lower profile, like a metal washer (Figure C).  Replace clips with washers one at a time so your mirror stays on the wall .  OR you can carve out a deeper recessed area on the back of the moulding.


Figure  A - Mirror clips.  IF you have these. You just need to carve out an indented section in the back of your moulding


Figure B - Plastic mirror clips that have a high profile.  You will want to remove these and replace them with a washer to flatten the profile


Figure C - Washer used to replace a plastic mirror clip


Flat metal clips used to secure mirror to wall in
smaller Oklahoma house


Recessed area carved out on moulding backside with utility knife where
 the mirror clip will be

2) Select your moulding

Simply said, the polystyrene is easier to carve a recess in, than wood.  Polystyrene is also light weight and is easier to work with when you are sticking it on the mirror.  It will not rot like wood can.  Nor will it swell up in a humid environment, like a bathroom.

On the other hand, polystyrene is easily dented or dinged.

With wood, you have a greater selection of moulding styles.  Wood though is heavier.  You may need more caulk and tape to hold the moulding onto the wall or to hold it flat if the wood is not.  Wood will also swell up in a wet environment.

3) Cut Your Moulding to Size


If you are using polystyrene, it is easier to saw by hand.  A power saw will chew up the material.  With really thin polystyrene, that I have used for other projects, I have used a utility knife.  Go slow, handle with care.

If you are not comfortable with miter cuts (45 degree cuts on corner) straight cuts are fine depending on the moulding you are using.  If your moulding is the same thickness this will look OK.  If the moulding tapers down from thick to thin, 45 degree cut corners look better to me.  You can also use those square rosettes in the corners.  Then you only need to make straight cuts.

If you are using real wood.....power saw away.............

5) Assemble your Frame

There are two ways this can be done.

If the frame is small, like a 2' x 2' mirror, assembling the frame first may be the best thing to do.  Assemble the frame on a flat surface making sure your corners are square.  After painting (if needed), stick it on your mirror.

If the frame is large you might want to glue your frame pieces on, one-by-one.  If you are going to do this, paint the frame first if needed.  Go to Step 7

6) Painting your Frame

If assembling first, paint moulding after assembly then stick it on the mirror.

If assembling piece-by-piece, paint moulding first.

NO MATTER WHAT, you need to paint the backside of the moulding along the top edge or the entire backside.  WHY???  Because the mirror reflects the backside and you can see it when you look at the mirror.  Place your moulding against the mirror to determine how much of the backside is visible and how much needs to be painted.  This is why it is so important for the frame to lay absolutely flat against the mirror.

If you are using a pre-finished moulding, like the one I used below, you can skip this step.
 

7)  Assembly One Frame Piece at a Time

Because the master bath mirror is large, I used the one piece at a time method.

The type of moulding used for this mirror is the pre-finished moulding that looks like oak or pecan stained wood.

The first piece that should go on is the bottom piece.  The other frame pieces will build on this piece.  Make sure it is centered and the glue almost dry before you stick on the side pieces. You just need to make sure the bottom piece does not move.

Place a liberal amount of caulk on the moulding and the mirror.

Avoid getting any caulk along the top edge of the moulding or the backside that reflects back to you. 


Bottom frame piece with caulk

Even though the caulk dries clear, you will still be able to see it if a lot of caulk is oozing out.  Wipe away excess while the caulk is wet.  Keep in mind, the caulk may take 2-3 days to dry clear against mirror.  Be patient.

After placing the caulk on the moulding and mirror, let it sit for about 20 minutes if the room temperature is around 70 degrees.  You want the caulk to dry out a bit and be firm BEFORE placing it on the mirror.  This will allow the moulding to stick on the mirror without sliding off.


Caulk placed on lower edge of mirror - waiting for 20 minutes to pass


Bottom frame piece placed on the mirror

After the bottom piece was solidly anchored in place I then started on the side pieces and the top frame piece.

For the frame sides and the top piece, you want to stick them on at about the same time, before the caulk totally sets. Before the caulk sets, you have a chance to move the side pieces and top piece to make sure they are square and the corners meet correctly. 

If your pieces are sliding off the mirror and not sticking in place, you put the pieces on too soon.  You need to let the caulk dry out more.  If you are impatient, a fan and higher temperature can speed up the caulk drying process.


 Side pieces added and top frame piece is caulked and ready to place on mirror


 Frame is now complete on the mirror


Before frame picture again

Tips and Reminders

- If you are using polystyrene moulding, a hand saw will be your best bet.  Polystyrene is too fragile for a power saw. Particularly with polystyrene that is pre-finished with a wood grain color. Careless sawing will damage the finish.  You want a clean cut.

- For a 45 degree cut on the corners, use a miter box or a speed square to help you with the 45 degree angle.

- Use a permanent marker or paint that matches your frame color to color any cut edges that are not the color of your frame.  This can also be used to camouflage a jagged cut that exposes the light color under a darker wood grain finish.  This tip applies to those colored pre-finished mouldings.

- You will need to make sure the back side of the moulding along the edge is the same color OR has a clean finish.  This is because the mirror will reflect the back side of the moulding.  Before permanently sticking the moulding in place, place it against the mirror to see what is being reflected along the edges.

- Try to keep caulk away from the visible edges.  Even though clear dries clear....  you can still see it.  I place the caulk about 1/4" away from the edge and wipe off any excess that oozes out while the caulk is wet.

 
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