How to Frame a Mirror
Learn how to frame a bathroom mirror - even one with clips! Done in just a couple hours, this easy project will be a definite upgrade from a builder-style mirror!
I took the mirror in my bathroom down at the very beginning of my bathroom remodel in order to paint behind it, so I don't have super great before pictures. That said, here's a general picture of my bathroom that includes it:
Since you don't get a close up, I'll describe it for you. My mirror was a very basic frame-less mirror held in place by four rusted metal clips. It was not very attractive.
This method is really easy, intended for situations where:
- The mirror is initially held to the wall with clips,
- Saws and tools are scarce,
- The handy-person is a beginner, or someone looking for an easy project.
However, you do have to remove the mirror. But don't worry, it's easy to rehang since the holes are already in the wall!
I also want to mention, to those of you coming from the future, that I did this project during the 2020 pandemic. Because of that, I used what I had on hand, which is not always the easiest way to do the project.
In each case, I detail what I would have done if I could have gone shopping, so that you know exactly what to buy and what to do. So don't be alarmed if what I'm recommending is slightly different from what I actually did.
Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!
- Mirror Clips - You can probably reuse the ones currently holding your mirror to the wall. Alternatively, if your mirror isn't held up by clips, you can buy these on Amazon.
- Wood for Frame - I recommend something that's at least 2.5" wide. I think 1x3s and 1x4s are both great options. If you have an appropriate saw, you can cut these yourself. Otherwise, the nice people at your home improvement store can cut them for you!
- (4) Tie Plates - These are flat pieces of metal that can hold two pieces of wood together. These ones from Home Depot are super affordable and would work perfectly!
- 1/2" #6 Screws - Wood that's nominally referred to as 1" thick is actually more like 3/4" thick. Make sure you have screws that won't poke through the wood!
- Picture Hangers
What I Actually Used
- Mirror Clips
- Leftover Cedar Fence Picket - This was thin and required a ton of extra sanding. Additionally, I used my table saw to cut it to the right width. Not what I'd recommend if you can buy something nicer.
- Pocket Hole Jig and Pocket Hole Screws - I used these instead of the tie-plates to hold the wood together, since I didn't have tie plates on hand. It was fine, but if you don't own a pocket hole jig the tie plates work too!
- 1/2" #6 Screws
- Picture Hangers
DIY Mirror Frame
Step 1: Remove Mirror From Wall
The mirror should slide out from the mirror clips. Then the mirror clips can be unscrewed from the wall.
I took the mirror down ages ago, but here's a nice picture of my new light along with the empty wall. Doesn't the light look awesome? It was a DIY project too!
Step 2: Cut Pieces to Size
Obviously, the size of your pieces will depend on the size of your mirror. My short pieces were 18" long, and my long pieces were 27" long.
These dimensions took a couple things into account, including the width of the wood, how much overlap the wood would have with the mirror, and the size of the mirror clips.
I go into a lot more detail about this in the FAQs section below if you want more information about how I came up with my mirror dimensions!
Step 3: Secure Frame
I drilled pocket holes at each of the corners to secure the frame together.
However, if you don't have a pocket hole jig, no big deal. This is where you'll use tie plates instead.
Everywhere I have pocket holes, you'll secure a tie plate using the 1/2" wood screws. You should have tie plates everywhere I put a grey rectangle:
Obviously, my photoshop skills need work, but you get the idea, yeah?
Step 4: Add Hardware
There are two sets of hardware to add to your frame: the mirror clips that hold the mirror, and the picture hangers that hang the mirror.
I placed the mirror clips at the edge of the top and bottom pieces, then secured each one with a 1/2" screw.
The placement of the picture hangers was based on the top holes that were already in my wall (where the mirror clips used to be.)
The two holes in the wall were 13 3/8" apart, so I centered my picture hangers that distance apart at the top of my frame.
Note - I switched out some of the mirror clips for shorter mirror clips because I messed up with the dimensions. See FAQs below so that you don't make the same mistake!
Step 5: Hang Frame
There should be some holes in your wall where the mirror clips used to attached. These holes should either A) be at studs, or B) be secured in place by wall anchors.
Because of this, the hard work for hanging is already done. All you need to do is add a screw into each of the holes. Don't screw it in all the way; leave a 1/4" or so poking out for the picture hangers to catch on.
Then test your frame to make sure it works!
Step 6: Finish Frame
I painted my frame with a black spray paint
Then I slid the mirror into place and hung it on the wall.
How did you determine the frame dimensions?
Before you start this, you need to already have decided two things:
- The width of the frame and,
- the amount of overlap between the frame and the mirror.
The width of the frame will be dependent on what wood you purchased.
Note: The nominal name of wood is not an accurate size measurement of the piece. If you've purchased a 1x3, the actual width is 2 1/2." If you've purchased a 1x4, the actual width is 3 1/2."
As for the overlap between the frame and the mirror, it should be greater than the length of the mirror clip. The why is hard to explain, so just trust me when I say things wont work otherwise.
I should know. This is the mistake I made. I had to substitute a different style of mirror clip on the top to make things work.
Then, you can use the following formula to come up with the "height" length:
Height = Mirror Height + 2(Frame Width) - 2(Overlap)
If you like math and want to see where this comes from, here's my best attempt at a color-coded picture:
You can find the "width" length with this formula:
Width = Mirror Width - 2(Overlap)
Once again, here's a picture:
But I really want to know: Why does the overlap need to be greater than the mirror clip length?
Okay, fine. It's because if the overlap is too short, when you place the clips so that they are fully on the wood (and not sticking out into the mirror part,) the mirror itself won't span all the way to the top of the top clips.
Then the mirror won't catch on the "clip" part, and just fall out of the clips.
Do I have to use the same type of picture hanger you did?
Probably not. I chose that type of picture hanger from the variety set I had because it was "swingy." What I mean by that, is that the mirror and clips could push the frame out a little bit, and the hanger would still catch.
If you have a hanger that is too thin (thinner than the mirror and clips,) then it may not catch on the screws, and that would be a problem.
You used a pocket hole jig instead of tie plates. What is that, and should I get one?
You don't need a pocket hole jig, also known as "Kreg Jig," for this project, although if you're getting into woodworking they're super handy to have around.
If you want more information on Kreg Jigs, I have a whole post on them!
I really learn better by watching videos. You don't happen to have a video of this project, do you?
Why, yes, I do! Thanks for asking! Check it out over on Youtube.
Since I already had everything I needed, this frame was free for me. But I understand you might not have everything on hand, so I've approximated the price of this project below as if you had to buy the supplies.
I left out the mirror and clips, since I'm going to assume that's already on your wall.
(4) Tie Plates
#6 1/2" Screws
I don't think $10 for a mirror frame is too bad!
This project took me about two hours, and I think it was totally worth the time!
I'm actually not sure how I feel about the black. I can always repaint it later, though, and this is good enough for now!
If you have a mirror that needs framing, be sure to save this post to Pinterest so that you can find it again later!
Finally, if you're still looking for mirror frame ideas, check out my Mirrored Jewelry Organizer, which uses a slightly different strategy!