Learn how to give a builder basic bathroom a budget-friendly makeover with this step-by-step tutorial of how to frame a mirror.
It’s possible to makeover a bathroom even when your budget is small!
For less than $200 and in just one weekend, we transformed our hallway bathroom.
We started by painting the walls and then painting the cabinets with Benjamin Moore’s Advanced paint.
But one of the changes with the most impact?
Framing the large builder basic mirror!
Here’s how it looked when we started.
You can see the rest of the posts about this bathroom makeover here:
Planning the Project
Our hallway bathroom came with the standard, builder-grade mirror installed with some simple clamp brackets.
Sure, it was functional.
And with three kids sharing the bathroom, the size was good!
But it lacked any style.
Unless Blah is a style? Because it had Blah in spades!
We debated replacing the large mirror with two smaller ones like AnnMarie did in her hall bath, but that was gonna cost more than we wanted to spend.
Plus two mirrors and three kids is a recipe for bickering!
So we decided to keep the large mirror and give it a custom frame.
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Measure Twice, Cut Once
The first step in building the custom frame for the mirror was figuring out the size.
We measured the mirror’s dimensions to figure out how much lumber we’d need.
We decided to use 1×3 lumber for the frame with a piece of decorative molding at the top.
However, because of the back splash on the sink and the way the walls are build, we also had to build an underlying frame to hold the mirror. The underlying frame is also what the decorative frame would be attached to. So we also needed the same amount of 1×2 pieces of wood.
By the way, when I say “we” and I’m talking about building stuff? I mean the he of we.
We like to make the design decisions together, but he prefers the building and I prefer the finish work.
We make a great DIY team!
How to Frame a Bathroom Mirror
The first step was removing the mirror.
You need to be careful when you take it down!
This is really a two-person job: one person to hold the mirror and another to remove the clamps.
Next, install the underlying frame for the mirror.
My husband used a router to remove a portion of the wood and create a niche in the two side pieces and the top piece for the mirror to sit.
You need to raise the mirror up so that you have something to attach the bottom portion of the frame to the wall.
Here’s a close-up so you can see how it looks.
The mirror fits perfectly inside the underlying frame.
Putting the frame around the mirror is another 2-person job: one to hold the mirror while the other attaches the pieces of 1×3 wood.
Be SUPER CAREFUL when screwing in the wood frame to the underlying frame!
If you nick the edge of the mirror with part of the screw, the mirror can crack.
You can also find replacement mirrors for a really great price at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.
We used some scrap pieces of wood to hold the mirror in place while we primed the wood we used for the frame.
Because of the decorative molding we used for the top, we decided to use straight cuts for the rest of the pieces of the frame instead of mitered cuts.
I thought we would just paint the frame once it was installed, but my husband decided it would be easier to take the pieces back off and paint them separately. It definitely saved us a lot of taping!
We painted it with Benjamin Moore’s Advance Paint in Kendall Charcoal. This paint is amazing! It goes on so well and gives a great, furniture-quality finish.
We needed to use wood putty to fill the holes and cover the wood screws. After the wood putty dried I sanded it smooth and touched up the paint.
The wood cost us less than $20 and turned the bathroom into a much more custom-looking space. Let me know if you have any questions about how to frame your builder-grade mirror by e-mail or with a comment. We love to hear from you!