Framing Out A Mirror That’s Mounted On A Door

Let’s talk about a mini makeover that involved a whole lot of hiccups. It was alllllll the way back in January that we decided that this mirror on our master bathroom door could stay (unlike the one on our guest bathroom door, which got the heave-ho since the person on the toilet could see THEIR ENTIRE BODY in it). But we figured the bedroom mirror could stay (since it doesn’t force you to stare at your reflection while on the porcelain throne) on the condition that we’d create a thicker frame around it to give it more presence so it looked less like one of those big flimsy $5 mirrors that you bring to college. Not that there’s anything wrong with those (we were both very happy to cart them off to school), but we like to think we’ve since graduated from that look. But yeah, even though this plan was hatched in January, it has taken us until September to actually do it. Oops.

We’re glad we kept it, since it has been very functional (double-checking outfits, fixing hair, flexing – you know, the usual) but the basic plastic clips weren’t much to look at.

Having seen lots of other bloggers upgrade their mirrors with trim (like Layla & Kevin, for example) we were confident that it’d be a pretty easy task (FYI, this is what I like to call “foreshadowing”).

First I took the door of its hinges so I could work with it laying flat. The basic plan was: remove mirror, reattached with glue (so plastic clips wouldn’t be in the way of trim), cut molding with miter saw, and glue to door around mirror. Simple, right?

Before removing the mirror I traced the outline with a red pen so we would be sure to glue it back on in the right spot. I didn’t care about marking the door since this part would eventually be covered by trim.

With the clips unscrewed and removed, the mirror came off no problem (though part of me secretly hoped it had already been glued in place).

We picked up this Liquid Nails Mirror Adhesive at Lowe’s for about $5. It’s apparently designed not to damage the reflective coating on the back of the mirror (which is why we used it over other adhesives, which could cause visible-through-the-mirror marks over time). Oh but before we used it we sanded the back of the door where the mirror would be glued (since it recommended doing that to rough things up before gluing any painted surface).

Since it was kinda stinky, we moved our mirror-gluing operation into the sunroom where I happily got to squirting blobs of adhesive as I remembered the instructions suggested (hint: more foreshadowing).

With Sherry’s help, we put the mirror in place, pressed it down and left it alone to dry for 72 hours.

At Lowe’s we also picked up some trim that looked made for this job (though I think it’s actually meant for the top of beadboard). The groove in it was perfect for laying flat over the edge of the mirror.

Well, long story short, after measuring and cutting all of the pieces (and just moments before gluing it down) we stepped back and realized it really wasn’t much of an upgrade. At all. It just looked even more like one of those cheap $5 college mirrors. Oh, accidental regression – I love how you sneak up on us.

So with about $10 in trim down the drain, I went back to Lowe’s and found some heftier stuff that still sported enough of a lip to sit nicely over the edge of the mirror. Instead of about an inch and a quarter of width, this trim was nearly three inches wide. We landed on that size because anything thicker would potentially run into the doorknob, but it was almost twice as thick as the too-thin trim that we tried first.

We obviously wanted the mitered corners to match up with the beveled corner of the mirror. So to help me find my cut lines, I placed a piece of painter’s tape along the line of the bevel to effectively “extend” my corner. Then I marked where I wanted to make my 45-degree cuts using my miter saw.

With all of my cuts made, I double-checked to make sure everything lined up nicely…

…and then broke out some heavy duty Liquid Nails to glue all of the trim in place. Normally I prefer nails or screws over glue, but I went out of my comfort zone on this one since screwing or nailing next to a mirror made me nervous and everything on the Liquid Nails tube insinuated that it could handle the job.

I squirted out a thin line of adhesive on each piece of trim (on the side that would sit against the door, not the mirror) and carefully laid all four pieces in place.

Just to be sure nothing shifted during drying, I taped each piece down. Can’t be too careful, right?

Well apparently I could’ve been more careful. After letting the trim dry for a day (the mirror had set for 72 hours at this point), I eagerly reattached the door (keep in mind that we’d been living bathroom door-less for about four days thanks to the false start with the too-thin trim) and took a celebratory shower.

Maybe it was the steam from the shower? Maybe it was re-hanging the mirror too soon before things fully cured? Whatever it was, moments after I finished get dressed after my shower – the mirror slid off the door, busting off the bottom piece of trim in the process. The other three pieces stayed in place, which thankfully kept the mirror from toppling over onto the floor. So the only damage to the mirror was a chipped corner that would be covered by trim anyway. But Sherry and I did nearly hyperventilate when we heard a crash from the bedroom and ran in to see what happened.

I didn’t take many pics of the “aftermath” because I was kinda grumpy about the whole thing. Not only did I have to redo everything (including having to scrape off all of the old glue), but I wasn’t quite sure where I had gone wrong.

Well, re-reading the directions on the back of the mirror adhesive offered some clues. Like “Do not use this product without a permanent support system. ” Oops. Plus some parts about letting the glue set for a full week and applying it to the mirror back, not the door (though I doubt that second tip made much of a difference since it gets on both surfaces when you mash them together) might have come into play too.

So in doing this a second time, I was determined to follow the directions. This time the adhesive was applied to the mirror… generously but in less large globs (Sherry called the first ones “cookie sized” but I’d describe these more as golf-ball-sized (and not as thick, so it could cure more easily). In addition to the blobs described in the directions, I criss-crossed some lines too, just to be safe a crazed man who couldn’t handle another mirror failure.

As for a permanent support solution, I wasn’t about to re-install the clips since the point of this whole glue/framing method was to avoid them (and the trim wouldn’t look great with big lumpy clips under it). So I improvised and carefully added some small finishing nails around the edges of the mirror. They went into the door nice and solidly, and the head provides a nice little rest/stop for the mirror. They might not work as a support solution all on their own (if there weren’t trim and glue also coming into play) but I was banking on them being enough to keep it from sliding as easily as it did after just two days of setting without any other support going on.

So with the mirror re-glued and nailed in place, Sherry and I started to countdown SEVEN FULL DAYS of letting the glue set. Even though it meant a full week of a door-less master bathroom, it felt like a necessary sacrifice if I didn’t want to do this a third time. And that’s how Captain Careful rolls.

On the seventh night (I feel like I’m telling a bible story all of the sudden) I actually stood the door up in the sunroom to do an overnight test (before putting the trim on again). To be extra safe, we placed the door on a big pillow so the mirror would have a soft landing if it decided to detach itself and slide down towards the floor again. Luckily, it didn’t. It passed the seventh night test! So the next morning I reglued all of the trim in place, let that dry flat on the floor for about five nights (more than three recommended in the instructions because we were out of town) and FINALLY put the door back on its hinges… just in time for Clara to resume her favorite activity: gazing at herself and shouting things like “sah pretteh!” and “iss baby!”

After all of the trouble that went into the project, I’ll admit that it doesn’t feel like the biggest and most life-changing payoff, but it’s definitely an upgrade. The white trim on white door doesn’t really “pop” in photos, but in person it’s a nice layered architectural detail that ties into the big quatrefoil mirror that we hung in front of the nearby over-the-sink window. And the goal of this project was just to finish the raw mirror edges more nicely, not draw lots of attention to it or anything (so painting it a color would just make it compete with other things like the mirror over the sink which, no offense to our newly trimmed fella, is much more interesting). So we’re kinda glad this update is of the subtle variety.

More than anything, I’m just glad to have the project successfully completed, to have some privacy returned to our bathroom and to no longer have to stare at those clear plastic mirror clips. Yep, now we can stare at more important things… like the doorknob that needs updating (probably with a can of ORB since my wife is so smitten).

As for the total cost, the second batch of thicker trim was $12, so the entire cost of the project with mirror adhesive should be around $17 if you don’t mess up and buy ten bucks worth of too-thin trim (which we hope to repurpose someday in some capacity…). Update: we just learned that Lowe’s & Home Depot will take trim back (even if it has been cut, as long as it’s over 12″). So here’s hoping we can recoup the $10 that we spent on that too-thin trim.

Have you guys make any subtle changes lately? Or encountered an “easy” project that had more hiccups than you ever thought possible? I’m happy to report that as of this posting, the door has survived five nights without falling down (even with a handful of steamy showers). Success! At least for now. We’ll keep you posted if things take a turn for the “ahhhh, I just heard a loud crash in the bedroom.”


  1. Cheryl says

    Hahaha the bible story reference made me laugh out loud. Sounds like someone very familiar with bible stories. Which brings me to an off-topic question…I know Katie Bower is a Christian, so was just wondering if you guys are too? If you don’t want to bring up religion on your site, I won’t be offended if you don’t approve this comment ;)

  2. says

    Haha I’m reading along lalala, and I come to one of the first photos, of John tracing the mirror in red pen- and immediately thought for half a second that the pen was the biggest needle I had ever seen and thought to myself, “Well that just took a weird turn…” lol

    Love the mirror and I’m so glad you guys went back for the bigger trim. I would have made the same mistake, and now I won’t. Thanks as always! xo

  3. says

    Funny – I actually framed out the plate glass mirrors in our master bath a few months ago, and came here first when I was trying to figure out how to do it to see if you guys had tackled it yet! I think my project was much easier, though, because the mirrors were already firmly glued on the wall (no clips), so all I had to do was paint/cut/glue the molding (although those things presented enough of a challenge for me!) I think your mirror looks great – I’ll say a prayer to the liquid mirror glue gods that it stays firmly in place for ya!

  4. says

    This reminds me of a fun DIY project I got myself into when I was about 17. My mom mentioned she wanted to take down the wood paneling that covered one wall in her living room, and I was over ambitious and went for it while she was at work, thinking I would surprise her. All was going well, the wall behind it was nice solid wall and just needed a little Spackle from the nail holes, until of course I found the reason they put the paneling up. The room on the other side is an addition, and I came across a WINDOW that they decided would be easier/cheaper to just panel over. A window with a wall behind it is not attractive, at all. I knew my parents were going to have my head! Good thing I’m handy and my dad had a lot of tools and scrap wood in the garage. I framed it out with 2x4s and screwed a sheet of wood into the frame and painted everything up before my dad got home. He helped me attach an mirror from an old dresser using gorilla glue and basic clips. Turned out to be a pretty decent surprise for mom! It’s in the background of this pic:

  5. Melanie says

    Looks like a very nice improvement. Really, I don’t see any reason why the finishing nails shouldn’t hold up just fine. They’re not all THAT much different from the mirror clips. /thumbs up

  6. Amy J says

    I was just going to comment that I was surprised that you hadn’t ORBed the doorknob and lo and behold the first commenter already said it – too funny.

  7. Crystal says

    So– I was just drifting off to sleep last night when I heard a loud thud– of a mirror falling off our bedroom wall. We bought the same product and also did not read the instructions. Our mirror was originally hung from Ikea, has a decorative shaped edge and came with special metal clips that have springs but it fell down in the recent earthquake– rather than try to rehang the clips which would require new drywall anchors and some patch work on the old holes we thought liquid nails would do the trick and hide the damage. We used a board to support and some tape to make sure it stayed on the wall but after 24 hours we were feeling confident that it was “stuck for good.” oops.

  8. Sarah says

    What an epic tale! Lol. It’s always the smallest projects that take the longest. I’m notorious for wanting to see the end result before things are fully cured or the paint is fully dry. You may call me Imperial Impatience!

  9. Jill says

    Pretty sure all of my small projects turn into a big hassle. I am my Father’s Daughter. :)

    I just love that Clara says “sah pretteh!” Sooo cute! :)

    Good job w/ the mirror, John-boy. You gave it the ol’ college try the first time and the second time was the charm!! (Just like some people have to try getting through college more than once. I don’t know why I’m on this college thing. Maybe the $5 dorm mirror? I dunno. Going back to sleep…at my desk now. lol)

  10. Renee says

    I had the same thing happen to me, twice! The master bedroom has 2 closets with sliding doors that I added mirrors to. I used the same liquid nails and waited the whole time, but both mirrors fell off! Luckily neither one broke. I ended up using the ugly plastic clips with the plan to use molding eventually like you did. Good to know you still had to use some nails for support, but I wonder how they will hold in hollow-core doors since I had to use anchors for the plastic clips. But we’re busy with renovating 3 bathrooms before baby comes, so we’ll see if we ever get to the molding.

    Thanks for sharing your trial and error! Love the look of the chunky molding!

  11. says

    As I was reading I wondered why you didn’t paint the trim ORB along with the knob. After reading several comments I see you do intend to ORB the door handle. Should have know! I do like the white frame though… I wouldn’t be opposed to adding a pop of color to it.

  12. rosemary says

    Hey! In the movie Colombiana with Zoe Saldana there is a huge house in the first scene that has several quatrefoil frames. I thought of yours everytime I saw one haha. Great taste!

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