Frame a Builder-Grade Mirror - DIY

I'm no Chelsea, but I'm going to write up how I built a frame to trim out the mirror in the kids' bathroom.  It was a pretty simple project that I was way more intimidated than I needed to be about.  I wanted to do it all by myself without any help from Anthony and huzzah (or is it phew...), I did just that!  So, I'll just say it, "If I can do it, you can do it!"

I'm also no pro interior photographer so I apologize that the mirror trim is enveloped in a ton of light from the plethora of light bulbs we've got on our vintage fixture up there but you can still see it, right?

Here's what the same mirror looked like a couple of weeks earlier (along with the same toddler in a different mood):

Builder grade, big, and boring.  You might've seen them.  You might even have them in your own house!  If you do, follow along closely.

I wanted to trim this thing out and I wanted a simple, thin frame.  I looked into companies that specialize in making custom mirror frames (and was even very tempted to write them asking for a sponsored post, I'll admit it).  But the price tag to frame out our mirror started at over $178 for a slim frame and I knew I could probably make one myself for a whole lot less.  (Spoiler alert:  I was right.)

It took me a couple of weeks of looking at a few home stores here for the type of trim I wanted but I finally found exactly what I was looking for - these lattice strips at Lowe's:

I needed three of them and, with a $10 gift card I surprisingly found unused in my wallet, it only cost me about $8.  Yahoo!

The process:

First, I measured the length of our mirror - top edge to bottom and side to side.  I added a half inch to each measurement so that the frame would stick out 1/4 on each side of the mirror.  (That extra 1/2 isn't necessary, especially if your mirror sits snug in between two walls like ours.  If it's visible from either side though, that extra measurement helps hide the sides of the mirror better.)  I marked my measurements onto my wood - two equal pieces for the top and bottom and two equal pieces for the sides.

Then I grabbed our speed square* to help guide the straight line I drew right at the marked measurement.  That's where I cut.  It probably wasn't necessary to draw the line since I was going to use a chop saw to cut but in case you don't have a chop saw and are going to cut with a saw, this would be very helpful to make sure you're cutting a straight line.  

Armed with all of the courage I could muster, I pulled out our chop saw* and cut along those lines.

After I was finished cutting (and could breathe again), here's what I was left with:

Obviously these measurements would probably be different for you since every mirror is different but you'd have two strips of one length and two of another, pretty simple.  Also, I was initially going to attempt mitered corners - where the corners meet at a diagonal - but the likelihood of me messing that up was a lot great than these simple horizontal and vertical joints.  Next time maybe...  ;)

Next up, I marked where the mirror brackets were so that I could route out spaces in the wood strips they would fit into.  Doing this allowed the entire strip of wood to sit right against the mirror and not be bumped out where the brackets were.  The easiest way to do this by taking my newly cut wood, holding it up to the mirror right where it would sit, and flipping it so that it sat wrong-side out against the wall  next to it.  Then I drew two marks between which fell each bracket.  So, for example, I set the top strip of wood on over the top of the mirror where it would eventually be installed, flipped it bottom up so that it was sitting on the wall above upside-down and right-side out.  Then I drew my marks. 

Using our multi-tool* (a simple chisel* would work too but we really love and highly recommend our multi-tool!), I carefully cut out the wood between the two marks I had made - carefully because I didn't want to cut too deep and go through the other side!  

I cut the notches at a diagonal - starting a little ways from the front edge of the strip and getting deeper as you go towards the back.  

This meant that technically, you could see the notches at the edge of the mirror but since you can't actually see the outer edges of the frame with our mirror where it is; there's really no side view, I didn't mind that the notches would be seen.  If you can see the sides of your mirror, you'll want to make sure you just notch out the very middle of the strip of wood, not cutting out any at the edges.  Once all four notches were cut, I did a quick dry fit where I stuck each strip up onto the mirror where it would eventually sit just to make sure the notches were 1) in the right place and 2) they were cut deep enough to accommodate each bracket.

Almost time for paint.  To prep for that, I grabbed some fine grit sandpaper (we use these sheets wrapped around an old sanding sponge*) and gave each wood strip a good sanding.  I sanded the flat side that would be facing out and every corner edge.

Primer was next.  I wiped everything down really well to get rid of any sanding dust and then used an oil-based spray primer to make sure any and all stains that might seep through the wood were blocked.

Once the primer was completely dry, I painted the frame pieces with my favorite gold paint.  I've had it forever and unfortunately, can't find it sold anywhere anymore but this paint from Michael's looks like a promising dupe.  (If you use or have used it, let me know if you like it or not!)

I let the paint dry for a few days before install because I knew that water droplets would probably become very familiar with this frame once it was installed and I didn't want any chance of the finish being ruined.  Kids...

Next up?  The install!  I used this silicone in clear to "glue" each strip of wood to the mirror individually.

I started at the bottom of the mirror since that piece would sort of support the side and top pieces.  I ran a strip of silicone along the bottom edge of the mirror and just stuck the bottom piece of the new frame right atop it.

After I had the bottom piece on, I waited a day for the silicone to dry before putting the other pieces on.  I don't know if that wait was totally necessary, especially since that bottom piece rests on the backsplash of the counter top but I didn't want to glue the whole frame on without the bottom being secure.  

The next day I did the same thing for the other three frame pieces - run silicone along the very edge of the frame (as close as possible to the edge so that I didn't have silicone bubbling up around the inside edge of the finished frame) and stick on the frame piece.  While the silicone was wet, I was able to slide each piece of the frame around so that the edges were all flush and corners aligned.  To hold them while they dried, I leaned a couple of pieces of scrap wood up against them.  (They didn't come off at all when I let go after sticking them on, but I wanted to be sure with temporary supports.)  Tape would also work; I just didn't have any painters' tape handy and didn't want to chance the tape I had pulling paint off later.

The next day (now you know why it took me so long to get the bathroom reveal much waiting!  Haha!) I filled in the gaps between each strip of wood with wood filler.

I let that dry, wiped off the excess (I prefer wiping with a damp cloth but you can sand too), and touched up the paint.

Wa-la!  Builder grade mirror?  Where?

The outdated beige doors and counter top really take away from the glam factor of this whole picture so just try to zoom in on the mirror.  Those things will have their day soon...ish.

I have a lot of confidence in the silicone holding up and this frame sticking for good.  If it does, I really want to add another frame inside the existing one so that the mirror looks something like this one from Crate & Barrel:

Always another project.  :)

I'm really happy with the way this mirror looks now.  The fun part about this project is that the options are as limited as the amount of trims there are at your local hardware store, which is to say, pretty extensive.  Thick, thin, simple, decorative, the process is pretty much the same but the look can be totally different.  Also, for what it's worth, I had some doubts in the beginning and was almost set on just framing out the corners like the mirror in this pin because it seemed a whole lots easier.  It would have taken only once piece of trim and wouldn't have required as much precise measuring.  So, not only are there trim options, there are layout options too!  Fun, fun!

If you frame out your builder-grade mirror, let me know!  I'd love to see how it turns out!

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  1. Did you silicone the wood right to the mirror or to the wall lining the mirror?

    1. It's siliconed to the mirror...and still there to this day. :)