3 DIY Mirror Frames to Glam Up Your Builder Basic Mirror

Posted by Sheela Cooper

A mirror’s purpose is to reflect, and the reflection we’re usually most interested in is our own. But shouldn’t your mirror also reflect your sense of style for your home? Many of us spend a lot of time updating and upgrading our builder basic bathrooms to make them as pretty and comfortable as possible, but the mirror is something we often overlook. But a builder basic mirror is typically frameless, which gives it an unfinished look that does not reflect the time and effort that we have put into making our bathrooms beautiful.

There are mirror framing kits that you can purchase, but that can be expensive. Most of us don’t have the luxury of a large budget for mirror framing (especially if you have just invested in fancy new tile and fixtures for your bathrooms!), so I’d like to show you three different DIY options that are budget friendly but make your basic mirror look fantastic.

I have three bathrooms in my home, so I took three different approaches to jazzing up each mirror. Let’s talk about the master bathroom mirror first. I’m still in the process of updating this bathroom, but the bulk of it is done. However, the new paint job was overshadowed by the unfinished mirror, so I wanted to make a frame that was simple, inexpensive, but still followed the design theme of the bathroom and provided it with a more finished appearance. And because it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, I like to devise ways of attaching the frame to the mirror that are not permanent. Liquid Nails is a big commitment! 

Here’s my master bath mirror’s new look (sorry, I don’t have a “before” pic):

It’s a simple Craftsman style and features solid, stained wood. But frames like this are typically heavy and require some heavy duty adhesive, right? Not in this case, and here’s the secret: this frame is made of balsa wood. Yes, that light wood that you buy at the hobby or craft store can make a great mirror frame! And even better, you can usually find a great coupon for these stores that brings your total cost (for the wood) to around $10!

Here’s a more detailed look at the wood:

Want to make your own Craftsman-style frame? Here’s how you do it. First, measure each side of your mirror. Mine was 36” on each side. Lucky for me, the balsa wood came in 36” lengths. I bought 4 pieces of balsa (they were each ¼” x 3” x 36”) and then stained each piece. Balsa takes stain very easily, so you’ll need to wipe the stain down almost as soon as you put it on to avoid blotches. You’ll need to stain both sides of each piece since the back side of the wood will be reflected in the mirror. You’ll then need to use some sort of sealant to protect the wood from moisture, water splashes, etc. I used about three coats on each piece of balsa once the stain was dry.                             
Both of these products are available at craft stores (don’t forget your coupons!) and you’ll just need to buy the smallest sized bottle. They are also non-toxic, so you can work inside the house! Make sure to let the poly dry thoroughly between coats. You only have to poly the side that faces out. (I used a foam brush for both stain and poly application, and paper towels to wipe the stain down.)

Once everything was dry, I trimmed the two horizontal frame pieces to fit with my miter saw, but since balsa is so light, you can easily use a small handsaw to trim it down. Finally, I used Command Velcro picture hanging strips to attach each piece of balsa to the mirror. I don’t have any mirror clips on my mirror, but I do have a metal strip at the bottom that holds the mirror in place. I placed the bottom piece of balsa just above this strip (see detail pic) so that the frame would lay flat on the mirror, which enabled the Velcro to stick nicely. Done! The part that took the most time was the stain and poly drying. Total cost – about $20, including the wood, stain, poly, and Command strips. But keep in mind that I used craft store coupons for all of my purchases, which really makes a difference.

Our hall bathroom has a beach theme, so I wanted something that seemed beachy but was also easy to put up and maintain. Here’s the result:

Can you guess what the frame is made of? Here’s a hint: Foamie door hangers! I just cut off the hole for the door handle and used Glue Dots to hang each piece. I used 20 pieces for this mirror, and each piece is easily trimmed for a custom fit. The total cost for this one was about $15. The Foamie sea creature stickers are optional!  Doesn’t the wavy shape of the door hangers make you think of the sea? (Not to mention the bright aqua paint!)

Finally, our half-bath mirror has a completely different frame.

For this one, I used foam crown moulding because it looks like wood, but it’s light. My husband cut it on the miter saw based on the mirror’s measurements, and then I painted, glued and stapled it together, and hung it up with Command Velcro strips. I will say that this frame was the most challenging and expensive of the bunch. (Maybe around $45 total? It’s been a while since I did this one, so I can’t remember the exact cost.) If I did it again, I would use foam chair rail instead of crown moulding, since the chair rail has a flat back, unlike the moulding, which makes it easier to hang. My husband also did not like cutting this material; he said the dust irritated his nose. But in the end, it does look nice and can be easily removed if I ever want to change it, just like the other two frames. All three frames are holding up nicely and are easy to clean.

Have you made any mirror frames to take your bathroom from basic to blockbuster? Please let us know in the comments below! And if you haven’t yet but have always wanted to, I hope you’re inspired to make one soon!

By the way, wouldn’t any of these knobs from Home From India look great on a bathroom vanity?

Note: I have no affiliation with any products or companies (aside from Home From India) mentioned in this post.


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