How to Build a Frame Around a Bathroom Mirror

Spice up your bathroom’s style by adding a wooden frame to your plain "builder’s basic” mirror.

Tools and Materials

This easy project should cost about $25 in materials and take approximately four hours to complete.

Tools: Table saw; pocket screw jig; miter saw; 15-gauge and 18-gauge finish nailer; air compressor; bit driver or drill; tape measure; level; studfinder; framing square; safety glasses; dust mask; work gloves; and ear plugs.

Materials: 24’ 1x4 cedar sanded one side; four coarse thread pocket screws; wood glue; paint or stain; and caulk.

Make a Plan

Start by determining the size of the existing mirror as well as the new frame. In this case, the mirror was 84” x 36”. With this size, I knew I wanted to frame it with 1x4 for good proportions. Because of the overall style of the bathroom, squared cedar was selected as the frame material. However, this method can be used with any wood type of at least 3/4” thickness, including ornate trims. Since this frame is “floating” on (not attached to) an existing mirror already mounted to the wall, a margin of overlap is left to conceal the edge of the mirror. Be sure to leave at least 2” of material to the outside of the frame, so it can be properly joined in the corners.

Cut the Frame

Once your frame dimensions are known, cut the four sides 1” longer than that final size. In order for the frame to mount flush against the wall, a notch must be cut into the backside of the frame pieces. Measure the thickness of the mirror and the bottom track (if any). The deeper of the two will be the depth of the notch. Using a table saw, set the rip fence to remove that width. Since 2” will be left to join the corners, the height of the cut will be 1-1/2" (for a total of 3-1/2" for 1x4).

Remove Notch

Next, reverse the saw settings. Make the blade height the rip width and the width the height. This will remove the remaining portion of the notch.

Miter the Corners

Using a miter saw, cut each end at a 45 degree angle. The total length of each piece will be measured from tip to tip (the long end of the miters), in this case two at 88” and two at 40”.

Joining the Pieces

Using a pocket-hole jig, drill a screw hole in each end of the short (or side) pieces. Make sure to drill through the center of the full-depth portion.

Glue Together

Layout the frame, face down, onto a flat surface. Make sure each corner fits clean and tight. Spread a small amount of wood glue on each face, and join with a coarse thread pocket screw. If any corner is slightly twisted, an 18-gauge finish nail through the corner can be used to pin it until the glue dries. Allow to dry for at least two hours.

Finishing the Frame

Once the glue has dried, finish the front with your choice of treatment. In this case, I wanted a white wash to show the beauty of the cedar grain while toning down the reddish color. To white wash, apply any white paint with a brush, and then wipe back with a wet rag. Wipe until you achieve the desired tone.

Mount the Frame

Test fit the completed frame over the mirror, and make sure it fits flush to the wall. Most frameless mirrors that are not fully adhered will have some sort of retainer at the top. The plastic retainers on this mirror were too deep to notch into the back of the new frame. An old sink drain strap was cut into two small pieces to replace the plastic retainers. Dab a small amount of caulk between the mirror and the wall, the mirror and the strap, and lightly tighten the screw.

Almost There!

Lastly, using a studfinder, mark all stud locations on the wall in the area of the frame. Dab caulk on the backside of the frame corners and in the middle of the long horizontals. Shoot one 2” 15-gauge finish nail into the top and bottom horizontals of the frame at each stud location.

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