Bathroom mirror frames — 2 easy-to-install sources + a DIY tutorial

framed-bathroom-mirrorOver time, moisture  and age can cause bathroom mirrors to develop dark, chipped looking edges — also referred to as “mirror rot.” Instead of replacing your ‘rotted’ bathroom mirror, you can — which can upgrade the existing one using custom-made, easy-to-install mirror frames. I found two companies that create these frames, which cover mirror rot and create a decorative, finished look at the same time.

delaminated-bathroom-mirrorAccording to Frame My Mirror — one of the two mirror frame sources — mirror rot happens because:

Mirrors are created when one side of a piece of glass is coated with silver nitrate, transforming it into a mirror. A coat of copper sulfate is applied over the silver nitrate to protect it from damage, then a coat of paint is added to seal the back of the mirror. This prevents the elements from coming in contact with the silver nitrate and copper sulfate coatings.

“Mirror rot” happens when those protective coatings are compromised and the silver nitrate is exposed. Even if your mirror is mounted on the wall, the silver nitrate will begin to react with particles in the air, moisture, or even the products you use for mirror cleaning. The silver nitrate and the copper sulfate oxidize, and the result is black edges on your mirror. The good news is that black edge doesn’t usually advance further than a couple of inches from the edge of your mirror.

The two custom mirror framing companies I found — Frame My Mirror and Mirror Mate — both have a very similar product, installation and ordering process. I compared company policies, frame selection, and cost below. For cost analysis, I priced out a 36″ wide by 24″tall mirror with six clips in similar style and frame thickness.

stick-on-bathroom-mirror-frame1. Frame My Mirror

  • 59 different styles of frames to choose from
  • $122 for a 36″ x 24″ mirror with six clips
  • Easy step-by-step pictorial instructions on their website
  • Free shipping for mirrors under 100 inches long
  • Accepts returns even if you measure incorrectly, you must pay shipping for return and new frame
  • Can assist with ordering for large or unusual mirror situations
  • $1 samples with free shipping
  • Frames are made of MDF or wood (see individual styles)

framing-a-plate-glass-mirror2. Mirror Mate

  • 66 styles of frames to choose from
  • $128 for a 36″ x 24″ mirror with six clips
  • Helpful installation instructions video in addition to instructions. Installation is made easier with the help of cardboard placement corners
  • Shipping for our 36″ x 24″ frame would cost an additional $11.95
  • Only accepts returns for damaged frames or order errors by Mirror Mate
  • Can assist with ordering for large or unusual mirror situations
  • Free samples with $5 shipping
  • MDF construction

I found the two companies to be very similar, but I liked the look of the handy cardboard placement corners that Mirror Mate provides to aid in ease of installation. Mirror Mate’s helpful installation video (above) was also a plus. While Frame My Mirror seems to be a little less expensive and offers free shipping, choosing to order from one company or another ultimately will likely depend on which company offers a frame style that best suits your bathroom.

If you are handy, you can always make your own mirror frame using casing or similar wood moulding — I found this tutorial on Lowe’s.

Framing your mirror using one of these methods is a great way to freshen up your existing bathroom mirror, keep it on your wall and out of the landfill, and maybe save some money in the long run.

Be-Safe-graphic2.3

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Comments

  1. lynda davis says

    I would like to add, if you are going to go the DIY route, make sure you paint both sides of the frame. Otherwise, you will see the unfinished color on the back of frame reflected in the mirror. I painted some wood framed medicine cabinets and had this problem. (could not take the frame off the mirror) I solved the problem by putting masking tape close to the edge where the wood met the mirror and then used caulking. (I was painting the frame white) It worked out very well. I was told by a mirror manufacturer that the products they use to make mirrors now are not as stable as older products. They told me to only use water to clean the mirror.

  2. Lynne says

    I was always told to never spray your cleaner of choice directly onto the mirror. Spray your paper towel or cloth, then wipe clean.

  3. Mary Elizabeth says

    Great resource, Kate. Here’s an alternative strategy. What I have done often is to buy a used wooden picture frame (slightly smaller than my mirror) or an already framed mirror. Then I paint or refinish the frame according to my own desires. Then I get the local glass company to either trim my damaged mirror to fit the new frame or cut me a new mirror for the frame. It’s not hard if you’re used to framing pictures.

  4. tammyCA says

    That’s interesting, never knew about mirror rot. My 60 yr old huge bathroom mirror still looks good, no rot..dh always says it needs to be framed but I still like it as is..with the little clear plastic clips (wish they were starburst ones like my sister’s vintage mirror).

    • Kate says

      Awesome that you haven’t had any mirror rot! It must not be overly humid in your bathroom or where you live. I think humidity has a lot to do with it because it is very humid here in Wisconsin in the summers and we have a large, vintage mirror mounted on one of our closet doors in the bedroom that is starting to get signs of mirror rot. Both bathrooms had ‘rotten’ mirrors as well. I have also seen it on the mirrors at my grandma’s house (not far from where I live).

  5. Erik says

    Instead of replacement, you may consider having a mirror resilvered. Check your local Yellow Pages. Although shops that resilver mirrors are not as plentiful as they were in the past, if you live in a major metropolitan area there may be a custom glass/mirror shop that still provides this service or an individual who specializes in mirror restoration. For example, in St. Paul we have Alchemy Mirror Resilvering.

    • Rick S says

      Kate,
      The resilvering may be a good idea in some cases. I have seen some of the mirrors fastened with chrome “buttons” in the corners through the mirror. or mirrors with decorative edges.
      Another source may be furniture refinishers. Either they do it or refer you to a qualified person.
      rick

    • Kathy Merchant says

      Erik, I live in the Twin Cities too. That tip is going in my little notebook of businesses in case I need them sometime. Thanks!

      • Erik says

        Kathy Merchant:

        My dad and I own antique cars. For years we used Shaughnessy Plating Works in Minneapolis but, sadly, they are no longer in business. We had some nickel plating done last year at AAA Metal Finishers, 432 Front Avenue in St Paul – the turnaround time was one week. You can walk in during business hours and talk to the owner and they also have a website. There are a number of plating shops in the Twin Cities but many of them are geared toward commercial business. Another shop that caters to individuals is J&D Custom Plating in St. Paul, although I have never used them. (Personally, I would find a comparable reproduction before having a plumbing fixture re-plated.)

  6. Ryan says

    Great post. I tried something similiar by building a frame for a sliding mirror closet door that I’ve leaned against the wall next to the front door. That way my girlfriend and I can get that one last full-length look before we head out 😉

  7. CB says

    TammyCA, you can still get starburst clips. Try an old hardware store or glass place. I found them in Florida.

  8. Kathy says

    Rosettes are 26 cents each at http://www.swisco.com/cl/Lavatory-Replacement-Hardware with standard $2.98 shipping.

    Plus this is a great resource for all kinds of hard to find replacement screen, window, shower door and so forth hardware, gaskets and weatherstripping.

    They also have some interesting products, like screen magnets to keep folks from running into your patio door screens.

  9. Joe Felice says

    This is an excellent way not only to cover up mirror rot, but to spruce up the bathroom (or other space). I did not know that damage to mirrors had a name until today! Thank you. In my experience this happens when water comes into contact with the bottom of the mirror and is not promptly removed. Here in Colorado, where it is so dry, we don’t have much of that problem.

  10. Kristen says

    This made me get off the couch and look at my guest bathroom mirror. Thankfully, my 1955 original 3’x8.5′ bathroom mirror is nearly rot free. I think this may be because there was never a working shower (only a tub) to get the room really humid. But I may have to invest in some rosettes as the clips are rusted.

  11. says

    There is a great mirror hanging system that we used in our house for our bathroom mirrors. I can’t seem to find the name of it right now though.

    It comes with metal strips that you affix to the wall behind the mirror and with clips that slip onto the affixed strip that hold the mirror. This allows you to hang very larger mirrors as you mount the strip into the wall in several places but only have two clips showing at the top and at the bottom of the mirror. I guess this is a commonly used system in motels and hotels because it is so sturdy.

    This system also keeps the mirror about 1/8″ away from the wall, so you can avoid mirror rot and keep your bathroom mirror looking like it did when it was mounted.

  12. Jim H says

    Thanks for the info on edge damage. did not know it had a name. I came up with the same idea, but cut down an old frame to trim the edges of a new in wall medicine cabinet. What a difference, but I do have a compound miter saw. Cool website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *