Mirror, mirror on the wall, we’re hoping you are actually the fairest of them all. If not, it may be time to design a DIY mirror frame. There’s nothing more uninspired than a boring floating mirror. Not only is it predictable, but it likely doesn’t show off your personal style. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: a frame. Once you learn how to frame a mirror, that blah piece of decor will feel refreshed all over again. No new mirror required.
While we’re on the subject, what’s the deal with all those unframed bathroom mirrors, too? Those ubiquitous styles are known as a builder grade mirror, or builder’s basic mirrors—and they’ve got the basic part right. So why not give your makeover station a makeover and frame that old mirror too? If this all feels like a lot, trust us, it’s not. Framing a mirror is an easy DIY project that even a novice can take on, and here at AD, we’ve got just the tutorial you need to give any of your existing mirrors a total transformation.
1. Gather your tools and materials
First things first: gather your mirror-framing supplies and materials. You may already have some of these things at home leftover from another DIY project, but if not, most of these items can be found at your local hardware store or through online retailers like Amazon. To get started, you’ll need:
- Primed MDF baseboards
- A tape measure
- A level
- A miter saw
- Liquid nails or extra-strength wood glue
- Some caulk and a caulk gun
- Extra fine sandpaper
- A paintbrush, roller, or spray gun
- Painter’s tape
- A tack cloth
Though the paint color you use is completely up to your taste, make sure you get a product that isn’t water-based. You’ll be painting the MDF boards, which are naturally absorbent. They’ll easily soak up water and moisture, leading to splintered, swelled, or cracked boards.
Because of this, it’s best to use oil, non-water-based acrylic, or latex paints. Even though the boards are typically sealed, it’s not worth the risk—especially when you’re putting so much effort into a DIY project.
2. Measure your mirror
Positioned along the edge of the mirror, use a tape measure to determine the dimensions of your mirror. While you’re at it, make note of any mirror clips and how they’ll factor into your frame. If your plan is to hang the frame from the wall over the clips, measure all the way to the top of the clips.
It may also help to measure the distance between your mirror and other objects along the wall—like light switches, shelves, backsplash, or a countertop or vanity. In general, you’ll want at least a few good inches between the frame and all of these other things.
After taking all of these measurements, you’ll be able to determine the size of the frame and whether it will be attached to the wall or the mirror itself.
3. Cut the baseboards
Use a miter saw set at a 45-degree angle to cut your boards to the appropriate length. If you don’t have a miter saw, many home improvement stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s, either sell pre-mitered trim or have equipment you can use in the store.
When you’re done, you’ll want to keep the four pieces of the MDF board apart, as you’ll eventually install them separately. It can help to lay them out flat just to make sure everything will line up correctly once you do hang up the mirror frame.
Alternatively, you can also use non-mitered boards with decorative corner block moldings. Note: If you are attaching the DIY frame to the wall, you will need to cut a notch (for the mirror) into the wood so the entire frame will sit flush with the wall.
4. Paint the baseboards
After you’ve cut the baseboards to size, the real fun begins. It’s time to paint them. If you’re framing a bathroom mirror, it may make sense to coordinate the color with your vanity, but it’s really up to you. Once you’ve selected your chosen hue, paint the boards on all sides using a roller, brush, or spray gun. Remember, no water-based paint!
Don’t forget to paint the back, because it will reflect in the mirror. If your boards could benefit from a second layer, feel free to add that too. Let the paint dry for at least two hours.
5. Sand the baseboards
Lightly sand the baseboards with an extra fine sanding pad and then gently wipe them clean with a tack cloth.
You may want to apply a topcoat or sealer at this point, especially if your DIY is for a bathroom mirror where you could splash water on it. A polyurethane coat may work well, and you’ll be able to choose the sheen you like, whether matte, satin, semi-gross, or high-gloss.
Like the paint, make sure you’re using an oil-based product. This type of polyurethane can take longer to dry, so let your mirror frame sit for four to eight hours.
6. Install the mirror frame
Once the paint is dry, it’s time to install the mirror frame. Starting with the bottom piece, apply liquid nails to the back of the board, avoiding the edge closest to the mirror. Press onto the mirror or wall, and use a level to make sure the frame is straight. Secure with painter’s tape to keep everything in place while the construction adhesive dries.
Repeat the process, adding the two side pieces next and finishing with the top piece. Wipe off any excess glue along the wall or mirror.
7. Touch up the frame
After the mirror frame has dried completely—for about 24 hours—remove the painter’s tape and fix any uneven corners with caulk. Using a caulk gun, run a bead of silicone caulk along any gaps or joints and smooth with a wet finger. Once this has dried, touch up with paint.
8. Get creative and customize your mirror frame
Using an MDF baseboard is certainly the easiest way to frame wall mirrors, but you can also use different materials to make a one-of-a-kind piece. There are plenty of DIY mirror frame ideas out there. If you like the look of wooden frames, try reclaimed wood boards for a rustic look or a bright paint color to coordinate with the wall color or wallpaper. You could even paint a specific design, add a textural element, or think about adding a string of lights to further make over your space. Your creativity is the limit with a task like this, and isn’t that the whole point of a DIY project after all?
Written by Kristi Kellogg and Katherine McLaughlin.
This article originally appeared on Architectural Digest US.