{March 12, 2013}   Easy Fix Is Not So Easy

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest DIYer of them all? Not me. But there were a few moments when I thought I was in the running.

When we bought our house about 10 years ago, we completely redid the bathrooms. We put a basic mirror in the half-bath, and it was just fine for several years. But recently, some of the backing along the edges had started to deteriorate, leaving dark areas where the silvering is missing.

I shopped for a new mirror, but didn’t find anything the correct size that I really liked. I recalled a do-it-yourself project for bordering a mirror with tiles. I thought it would be an easy way to disguise the deterioration, and I could add “reclaim a damaged mirror” to my list of new things to try this year.

A quick internet search led me to several DIY blogs with similar tile projects.  One of the bloggers noted she used a glue gun to attach glass tiles to her mirror. I had a glue gun; I was half-way there.

I picked up two packages of glass tiles—some square, some rectangular—at Michael’s for about $7. That night, we removed the mirror from the wall and placed it on the kitchen island. Then I arranged the tiles around the edge of the mirror until I had a pattern I liked. It took maybe 30 minutes.

The next morning, I warmed up the glue gun and started attaching the tiles. It was easy, and I only burned myself once. The tiles felt welded on; I couldn’t even budge one when it looked a bit crooked.

I didn’t glue the tiles that would cover the clips that attach the mirror to the wall. When my husband came home from work, he ground away part of the back of those tiles so they would sit flush with the rest of the tiles when glued over the clips.

With those tiles in place, we put the “reclaimed” mirror back in place. I was pretty impressed with the results. I love the color the tiles add, and I have to look closely to notice the dark shadow barely visible through the tiles where the silvering is missing. My quick fix cost less than $10 and took less than 2 hours total. Success!

But my pleasure was short-lived. The next day,  I heard a clatter. A tile had popped off the mirror and landed in the sink. It was followed by a few more. At end of the week, I got out the glue gun and reattached a small collection of fallen tiles.

The blogger who had attached her tiles with a glue gun reported that her tiles were still in place a year later. I was not so lucky. As the days passed, I heard more clattering in the sink and had more tiles to reattach.

This time, I glued them with Loctite Go2 Glue, which is water resistant and dries clear. It doesn’t dry immediately, so I used painters’ masking tape to hold each tile in place while the glue dried. That seemed to work fine.

Here and there, the tiles I had originally attached with hot glue continued to fall off. I was getting tired of replacing them one by one, so I went through and wiggled every tile, removing any that seemed the least bit loose. I used Go2 Glue to attach a large number of tiles, then taped them in place to dry.

Despite the tape, some of the tiles slid out of place, so the border is not even. Plus, extra glue pooled on the tape at the bottom edge of some tiles, leaving a residue that I couldn’t remove by scraping or rubbing with a cloth soaked with nail polish remover.

In hindsight, it would’ve been better to remove the mirror from the wall and attach the tiles while the mirror was flat. I’ll know better next time.

Although my easy fix didn’t end up being so easy, I’m happy with the colorful, if imperfect, results. And I believe there may be more DIY projects in my future.


Dolores says:

Julie – I thought it looked great! Good job. You are so creative! You make your Mom proud.

Thanks so much! I learned it all from you. Now, if I’d just have enough patience to pick up all your sewing and quilting skills… 🙂

tina says:

Really looks great-and thank you for sharing the glue lessons! I have a large, plain “60s bathroom mirror” in the basement and would like to try this–hope to “get around to it” within the next decade. Do the tiles need to be clear all the way through, with no type of backing or haze? I assume so because you noted the glue as clear, and your tiles have a cool translucent effect in the light, but I have no idea how that works.

Great questions, Tina! The tiles I used have an iridescent finish and a wavy surface, which helps hide the glue and the damage. I just added some close-up photos of the tiles to this post, so you can see what I mean. The darker colored tiles are better at covering the damage than the lighter ones. The glue, even though it’s clear, is visible, but not distracting. I’d think crystal clear tiles would show the glue too much. Several of the projects I saw online used ceramic tiles, so you could consider using them, too. I’d be happy to help you whenever you decided to update your mirror!

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