How to frame a wall mirror

Written by laura reynolds
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How to frame a wall mirror
(DRW & Associates, Inc.)

Mirrors as decor go in and out of fashion, but a well-framed mirror is a classic look. A wall mirror can be framed to make an impressive focal piece or a group of mirror tiles can be individually framed for a sparkling group. The effect is as attractive as its subject is practical when a large framed mirror graces a hall and framing "finishes" a plain mirror over a vanity. When you frame it, you add stylish flair to the everyday mirror.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Framing materials:
  • Wood framing, backing or backing paper with adhesive
  • Tile
  • Metal stripping and rosettes
  • Joining materials:
  • Staples, tile or backing adhesive or finish nails
  • V-nails or wedges for wood frame corners
  • Upholstery or other small-headed hammer
  • Tile knives, notched trowels and grout for tile
  • Pliers
  • Matte knives
  • Hanging materials:
  • Wire and eye bolts or strap hangers
  • Wall anchors

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  1. 1

    Decide which type of frame to use. Wood frames are classic and can be built and finished before mounting mirrors. Tile frames are convenient for bathrooms; they can match existing tile and withstand the constant heat and humidity. Another option is a metal framing kit that consists of folded metal that is slid onto the edges of a wall-mounted mirror. It's secured with clips called "rosettes" that hold and conceal the edges. Wood and tile frames can also be applied in place on large mirrors.

  2. 2

    Apply tile frames to a mirror that has been mounted on a bathroom wall. Purchase enough bull-nosed tiles to go around the entire circumference of the mirror plus four corners. "Back-butter" each tile with mastic or tile adhesive and form a frame, using plastic "spacers" to leave an eighth of an inch between each tile for grout. Use a tile cutter to score and snip tiles to fit the frame and make adjustments for mounting clips with a hand grinding tool. Let dry overnight before removing spacers and grouting.

  3. 3

    Apply wood frames directly to large, wall-mounted mirrors. Cut frame sections with a mitre box so that the "in" side of each 45-degree-angled corner measures about an inch shorter than the side of the mirror it will fit. If corners aren't flush, "back cut" a bit of the wood behind the face of the cut with a coping saw. Cut a notch, called a "rebate," along each side about half an inch into the inside edge to hang over the edge of the mirror. Make the rebate deep enough so the frame sits flat on the wall. Dry-fit everything and make adjustments, then use some construction adhesive on the pieces and place around the mirror. Countersink wood screws every foot or so along the frame. Fill the screw holes with wood filler or "buttons."

  4. 4

    Build a wood frame at a frame-it-yourself shop where they'll cut the frame and help you assemble it. They also have the specialised equipment (like mitre clamps) to hold corners square as you secure them with glue and wedges (sharp, wavy metal joiners). Frame pieces come with the rebate pre-made so you won't need a router. If you can't find a frame shop, you can order frame parts from an art supply firm or cut and rebate the pieces yourself. Once the mirror is in the frame, put a backing of thin wood or heavy paperboard to back the mirror, secured with wood strips or oversized glazer's points and cover the whole thing with paper.

  5. 5

    Take care when hanging framed mirrors---hanging one requires more than the average picture hanger nail. Most framed mirrors should have two hanging eyelets, mounted on the frame, for safety. Hanging points should be screws in heavy-duty wall anchors. If you're fortunate enough to have a picture rail, it's the perfect place from which to hang a framed mirror.

Tips and warnings

  • Add architectural trim or paper mache details (available from art or historic hardware suppliers) to frames for added interest.
  • Whenever possible, stain or paint unfinished frames before attaching to walls or mounting mirrors in them.
  • Framed mirrors are not typical wall hangings. Hang them using two strap eyelets when possible and use appropriate wall anchors to hang them in drywall or plaster walls. If you can't put the screws in a frame built onto a wall-mounted mirror into studs, be sure to insert wall anchors and pre-drill pilot holes during the dry-fit stage.

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