DIY Mirror Install – Cut Out For It?

If you want to save money on a new bathroom mirror, and you’ve got a couple DIY projects under your belt, you might consider installing it yourself. Depending on the size of the mirror, this can be done with relative ease, although I’d recommend finding yourself a buddy to lend a hand.

Mirror Size

The first step is figuring out what size mirror you want. Mirror mounted to a wall is nearly always ¼” in thickness, but you’ll need to figure out your dimensions. Currently, there is not one sole discernible trend in mirrors. Check out Pinterest or Houzz and you’ll find a wide variety of mirror styles. The common thread between the trendy mirrors featured on these sites is that they are somewhat unconventional. In the past few years, designers have taken a liking to the long, narrow, horizontally aligned mirror that hangs quite a ways off the vanity. There has also been a lot of interest in mirrors on standoffs, mirrors backlit by LEDs, and round mirrors, both small enough that they fit little more than a face and large enough that they seem like they might continue to grow and engulf the entire bathroom. That said, many homeowners still opt for the classic, practical, rectangular mirror set upon the vanity. If the mirror is fitting tight between two walls, I’d recommend subtracting ¼ – ½” from the available width, otherwise you’ll most likely end up with some battle wounds along the adjacent walls. Stock heights for mirror are typically 42, 48, and 72”, but a glass and mirror shop can cut a mirror to any custom size. The last thing to consider when thinking about mirror size is whether or not there are any impediments that exist in your home that might prevent you from getting a mirror your desired size into the bathroom and in place – this includes, medicine cabinets, outlet plates, tight turns, etc. Don’t give up hope just because obstacles exist! Spend some time thinking about it and you’re likely to come up with a solution that will get your mirror where it needs to be.

Hanging Your Mirror

Next, you’ll have to think about how you want the mirror mounted. The most common mechanical fastener is the mirror clip. You’ve probably looked at countless mirrors supported by clips in your life and never took notice of them. That means they’re doing their job! Clips are there to support while being visually unobtrusive. The next most common application would be to install the mirror into j-bar. This is a continuous piece of j-shaped (duh) metal that runs along the top and bottom of a mirror. When going to the ceiling with the mirror, j-bar is your only option since clips need extra space at the top, so they can be slid down over the mirror to secure it. The top channel of j-bar is slightly deeper than the bottom channel so the mirror can slip up into the top metal and then drop back down to sit it in place. If you’re purchasing a pattern mirror, like an oval or the mirrors picture below, from a glass shop, you’ll want to consider a mirror hanger, a strong metal hanger that adheres to the mirror’s backside. These are easy to apply and hang. I wouldn’t recommend DIYing a stand-off mirror unless you’re certain you’re up for the challenge.

The type of hardware you use will affect what size mirror you order and where you’ll need to drill holes to mount your hardware. Mirror going into clips should be cut at the exact height you want off the vanity, backsplash, etc., but the holes for your top clips need to be drilled 3/8” down from where the top of the mirror will end up. To figure out the cut height of the mirror that will be installed using j-bar, you’ll need to subtract 9/16” from the height at which you want the top channel mounted. This allows the extra room to slide the mirror up into the channel.

Next post I’ll get to adhesives, transportation, and actually getting the thing up on the wall in one piece.

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