DIY Builder Grade Mirror Upgrade

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Hi, I'm Yami

I’m so excited to share this quick DIY project transforming our builder grade mirror with you guys. Projects like this are great because they don’t take a lot of time and don’t require a lot of tools. While this tutorial uses a builder grade mirror that we removed from one of our bathrooms during a renovation, you can use any existing mirror and follow the same steps. Bonus if you have a mirror that is already trimmed out. You could even purchase one like this at Ikea and add on to it. Half the work (and the hardest part) is already done!

First let’s talk about the mirror itself. Most people either toss out their old builder grade mirror or they leave it on the wall and put a frame around it. I was going to toss ours but our contractor left it in the garage after demo. It sat there for months because we never got around to taking it to the dump. I’ve seen several tutorials for adding a frame to an existing mirror but, I wanted two mirrors in the bathroom and not one, so here we are. I’ve listed out all the steps I took and highlighted what I would have done differently so you can avoid my mistakes.

Here is what the mirror looked like just chillin’ in our garage. It was in rough shape around the edges but I knew I could transform it into something better. Read below for the step-by-step.

Builder grade mirror update

The final result!:

Builder grade mirror update

Builder grade mirror update instructions:

Tools Required:

Miter saw

Circular saw

Nail gun

Caulk gun

If you don’t have any of these tools you can have an associate at the store cut the wood to size for you. Just make sure your measurements are accurate to save you extra trips. If you don’t have a nail gun you can rent one or use hammer and nails. You could even use screws, just make sure they are the right size for the trim you are using.

Materials required:

A builder grade mirror (or any!)

3/4 plywood – enough to cover the back of your mirror. A full sheet is 4’x8′. You can also get project panels that are 2’x4′ but it is more cost effective to get a full sheet. I didn’t use a full sheet and instead used scrap wood that I had leftover from my bar built in. Either way works, just make sure the whole back is covered.

1×2 trim – This is what will frame the outside of the mirror and cover the plywood on the sides

Wood appliques – There are several on Amazon but I used these I found at Home Depot

Nails ( I have a finish nailer but a brad nailer works too)

Liquid Nails (Avoid my mistake and just get this one. I got the standard one at first and it did not hold well)

Goof off – I used this to clean the paint and old silicone caulk off of the mirror side. You may not need this.

Adhesive – I ended up using my glue gun to adhere the appliques to the mirror. You can use gorilla glue, E600 or the liquid nails. The glue gun was best in my opinion due to the dry time.

Paint or stain for the trim and appliques. I spray painted mine with this Rustoleum gold color.


First, make sure the back of your mirror is clean. Scrape off any old adhesive. Use WD-40 to loosen it up if needed. Because our builder grade mirror was so old, I had to clean off the paint that was on the top and scrape the old silicone off the sides.

Next, apply liquid nails to the back of your mirror and adhere your plywood piece. I laid the mirror down (on carpet) and set some heavy objects on top:

Builder grade mirror update
The piggy bank is the real MVP here. If you workout and have more than 5lb weights that would work best lol

I ended up grabbing paint cans and spreading them out. I let the it sit like this overnight and by the next morning, the plywood was completely secured.

It helps to lay something down to protect your rug/carpet as well.

After you adhere it, make sure the sides are flush. If you have overlap, sand it down. If you have a gap, use wood shims to fill in the gap. Its important to be as flush as possible so your trim can be secured. I had some gaps and ended up shimming them to compensate.

While you are waiting for the plywood to adhere, go ahead and paint your trim pieces and appliques. I spray painted all of mine outside.

Builder grade mirror update
Note: I used pre-primed mdf because that’s what I had on hand. I would have used select pine if I didn’t have this handy.

Once your pieces are dry and your plywood its set, its time to add the trim on. Simply nail them on around your mirror and into the plywood. You can choose to have the front of the trim flush with the front of the mirror or the back which will give you an inset look. Mine is flush around the sides.

You can put the appliques on however you would like. I ended up doing my top piece upside down because I preferred the look. Also because our particular builder grade mirror had some imperfections on the edges I wanted to cover.

Be advised that if you’re doing a large mirror like me, this thing will be heavy. I moved mine upstairs prior to attaching the trim so it would be easier to get it into place.

Once your appliques are on, you’re done! You can use an anti-tip anchor to be on the safe side which I plan to do. Its really heavy though and won’t fall on it’s own.

If you try your own version let me know!

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