How to upgrade a builder level mirror


Although OEM-grade mirrors are perfectly functional, they can be quite annoying. Compared to more decorative mirrors you’ll find in stores, these mirrors have no frames or visually intriguing elements. Fortunately, just as you can spruce up the look of an old medicine cabinetThere are also several ways to improve the look of a builder-grade mirror using a little creativity and DIY know-how.

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Simple wooden frame

frame mirror Haskin Rectangle Wood Mirror


To create a DIY frame for your mirror only requires a few carpentry tools and a little time. One style to consider is a miter frame. With this style, each side of the frame receives a 45 degree angle cut, or miter. When two sides meet at the cut edges, it creates a square corner. If you want to build a miter frame for your mirror, you will need to measure its dimensions and cut the wood appropriately.

Alternatively, you can purchase four pre-cut lengths of wood from your hardware store, measured to fit the length and width of your mirror. Then sand, paint and glue them to the mirror. The corners will not be mitered, giving a more rustic or contemporary look.

corner block frame

You can also build a corner block frame for your bathroom mirror. While this frame may cost a bit more with the added materials, it may also be a bit easier to build because you don’t have to worry about making precise 45 degree cuts for the corners like with a frame with tab. For this style of frame you will need to purchase four corner blocks, such as these rosettes from Home Depotas well as the wood of your frame.

If you wish to paint or stain your frame or corner blocks, paint all sides first before cutting and attaching the pieces to the mirror. Then use your choice of adhesive to place the four corner blocks flush with the edge of the mirror. Measure and cut the selected wood trim to fit exactly between each of the corner blocks. Apply it using the same strong adhesive you used for the four blocks.

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natural elements

Fancy a floral theme in the bath? Or maybe you like the bohemian style with baskets or the beach with seashells. Whatever elements of nature you prefer in your home, you can use those same elements to decorate your builder-grade mirror.

For a whimsical or floral look, try sticking rows of flowers along the edges of your mirror, like these multicolored daisies from Amazon. You can do the same with shells, pebbles, small pine cones, carved raffia, faux leaves, or other decorative items from your local craft store. For a nautical theme, try using thick lengths of rope to border your mirror.

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Get a clear view

mirror frame fake window mirror


Working with an extra large mirror? Create a DIY faux window frame and split the view in half while creating an interesting decorative look. Start with a half-round molding, like that unfinished pine trim at Lowes, and cut pieces to create a windowpane look. Include a single large pane on the left and right sides of the mirror or divide it into smaller sections like a window grille. You can sand and stain or paint the trim before bonding to the surface.

Crown molding

rectangle mirror mirror frame with crown molding


If you desire a more elaborate, classically inspired look, you can use crown molding to make the mirror look like an extension of the home’s woodwork.

Start by purchasing moldings for the top of the mirror and trim for the remaining three sides. Next, measure the length and width of the mirror. Cut the crown molding and the lower part of the trim to match the width of the mirror. The two side pieces will need to be cut to fit between the crown molding and the trim, so they will be a little shorter than the length of the mirror.

After cutting and sanding each piece as needed, apply your paint or stain of choice. Always stain or paint the back, as it will reflect on the mirror surface.

Clever frame

mosaic frame mirror gray tiles mirror


Wooden mirror frames are beautiful, but they’re not the only way to improve the look of a boring, builder-grade mirror. Another option is to use mosaic tiles to create a decorative frame for your mirror. As with the other techniques described above, you can apply the mosaic tiles directly to the mirror without removing it from the wall. Just be sure to clean the mirror and remove dust so they adhere properly.

Begin by choosing a 12 inch by 12 inch square of mosaic tile, such as this Marble, Glass and Metal Mosaic Square at The Home Depot. Next, decide how wide of the border you want around the mirror and cut the mesh backing to match the dimensions. If you prefer, you can create a custom design using loose mosaic glass tiles, such as these stained glass tiles available on Amazon. However, keep in mind that gluing each tile individually will take more work.

Another artistic option is to paint a border or pattern on your mirror with water-based acrylic or enamel paint. Start by taping around any part of the mirror you wish to paint with painter’s tape, like our favorite. Frog Tape available on Amazon. Get creative with more than a border by gluing on stripes or using a stencil to paint a decorative border around the sides. Keep in mind that the paint will reflect so the design will look doubled up as if it is reflected in a body of water.

Mounting options

mirror hanging mirror frame


No matter what border or accent you choose for your mirror, keeping it in place can be a challenge. First, examine the part of the mirror you want to decorate for anything sticking, peeling, or causing an adhesion problem.

Older builder’s grade mirrors have plastic brackets that protrude from the corners or sides of the mirror, making the task of attaching a flat frame or decorative piece to the edges a tricky prospect. To compensate for those extra raised spots, try using heavy-duty Velcro, like these industrial resistance bands available on Amazonor for a less permanent solution, try using these Command Velcro strips which you can remove to clean the mirror or change the look.

If you need to cover more than a few inches with adhesive, try double-sided mounting tape, such as this waterproof foam tape on Amazon that stays on even the foggiest mirror. To permanently bond heavier frames, use a strong glue, such as this powerful gel adhesive from Amazon.

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made for you

mirror frame example

Photo: MirrorMate

DIY projects aren’t for everyone. If you prefer to avoid the hassle and stress of making your own frame for a mirror, you can order a custom frame from MirrorMate. MirrorMate specializes in making affordable frame kits that adhere directly to mounted mirrors.

Their frames even offer a recess along the back that allows flush installation on the clips or strips that hold the mirror to the wall. Simply measure the height and width of your mirror, then select and order the style you like. Once your frame is delivered, follow the instructions to assemble it, peel off the adhesive backing and stick the frame directly to the edges of the mirror.

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