How to Remove a Frameless Mirror Like a Nervous Grandma

Things are HAPPENING in our master bathroom! Woot!

Specifically, instead of a mirror, we now have a big empty wall with ugly 80’s wallpaper and black patches of some kind of adhesive. Hooray for progress!

So this is what our bathroom looked like very, very recently:

mirror1s

An absolutely enormous frameless, builder grade mirror (to go with the ridiculously long vanity, which I’ll talk more about in another post). We would have considered framing it out and keeping it, but it had some damaged spots on it that I don’t think were fixable (you can’t see them in the picture, but there was an area right in the middle with a bunch of black spots–not on the surface of the glass).

Dave had taken a small version of this mirror down at our old house by just kind of prying it off with a screwdriver, but this one was so much bigger I felt some research was called for. Google had many ideas for me. If you care about keeping the mirror in one piece, you have fewer options. We didn’t, so much, since 1. the mirror was, as noted, not in great shape and 2. I didn’t know how we’d manage to keep it in one piece and get it out of our house and to somewhere else where it could be reused anyway, so huge was it. I’m reasonably certain it wouldn’t fit in our van, for example, and I wasn’t really willing to go to extraordinary efforts to preserve a dated and damaged giant mirror.

So anyway. We have other plans for that spot. Which I hope to show you sooner rather than later, since right now we don’t have a bathroom mirror.

Okay, back to how to get a mirror down. One common suggestion was running piano wire behind it and then kind of sawing back and forth with it to break through the adhesive. We don’t have any piano wire, and we don’t have long enough arms to saw behind that giant mirror. Another idea was getting some suction cups designed to take dents out of cars (I had no idea these existed, by the way. I’ve been driving around with dented cars my whole life, not realizing there was a DIY alternative) and pull the mirror off with those. Heat guns were mentioned a lot, too.

We decided to give it a try with the equipment we already had on hand, though, which was duck tape, a meter stick, and a hammer.

Dave kind of poked around back there with our metal meter stick and determined that the adhesive seemed to be fairly localized to a few spots (one online place pointed out that that would probably be the case if you had a contractor-hung mirror, but if it was a DIY job, you’d be more likely to find liquid nails all over the place, the average DIY-er reasoning that more is better when it comes to adhesive). We became hopeful that pulling the mirror off would be relatively straightforward and easy.

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First, in case the mirror wanted to shatter into a zillion pieces when we started tugging on it, we put tons of duck tape across it in a pleasing grid pattern:

mirror2s

Then, after donning thick gloves, long sleeves, and safety goggles, Dave stuck the meter stick behind the mirror and tapped on it with the hammer to loosen the adhesive spots:

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Once he had it detached from the wall on one side (which didn’t take long at all), I held that side in place while he went to work on the other end.

Then, once we had it unstuck, we meant to carefully lower it down to the counter. Only it kind of fell on my fingers (which were gloved! Nervous grandmas!) on my end and fell onto the counter on Dave’s end, and that’s when one corner cracked:

mirror5s

So it was good that we had already accepted that that was probably going to happen at some point.

Also, hello wallpaper! Can’t pretend we’re glad to see YOU!

Really, this was not a shock, since I had already discovered that someone had painted over wallpaper in the rest of the bathroom. And I guess we’re going to be painting over it here, too, because that seems like the only reasonable course of action, really. I mean, getting it off would involve removing a layer of paint AND wallpaper from most of the room, and I just don’t care enough.

I had thought a whole lot about how to get the mirror down, but not so much about what to do with it once we had it off the wall. So we had to kind of wing it, and here’s what we did:

First we carefully lifted it and put it onto an drop cloth on the floor:

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Then we wrapped it up in the drop cloth, taped the whole thing closed with duck tape, and, umm….let the kids smash it with a hammer. And safety goggles!

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Milo said, “one time on HGTV, they smashed a mirror with a LOG!”

We didn’t do that, though.

Once we had reasonably small dangerous shards of glass Dave (sent the kids away and) put them in cardboard boxes lined with garbage bags:

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And then he wrapped up the pieces too small to pick up in the drop cloth again and put IT in a garbage bag and then in a box. Now it all looks like this:

mirror9s

We still need to call the city trash people and ask them what to do next with it.

So now we have this:

mirror10s

We have to deal with the left behind adhesive, and then we’ll be ready to paint in here!

how to safely remove a frameless, builder-grade mirror

Read more about our endless master bathroom reno:

removing the shower door

 

fancy light fixture

 

slate tile


Comments

How to Remove a Frameless Mirror Like a Nervous Grandma — 33 Comments

  1. You guys are rockstars! I am with you…this job makes me so very nervous as those things weigh a ton and are huge! Great work and I am so happy that you all are making progress in your bathroom!!!!! Great week to you friend!

  2. Removing our mirrors was one of the scariest things we’ve done. Glad you all survived. We got ours down in one piece, carried to the garage, and then I set it down a little harder than I should have and it cracked. Nice moves. 😛

    • ha! yes, I guess in a way we’re lucky it broke as soon as we set it down rather than waiting until we wrestled it down the stairs.

  3. Gosh, I never knew this could be dangerous. I guess we’re lucky that our big bathroom mirror was held up only by clips. We just removed the clips and it was down. We were able to get it cut down and still use it. I bet your kids had fun, though!

    • Clips make so much more sense! I guess they take longer or cost more than just slapping some glue up there and calling it a day, though. It seems like the people who built our house were really tired by the end and cut some corners 😉

  4. Love all these tips. I will admit that I am a total nervous grandma when it comes to mirror removal. I am also impressed with how little space the whole thing takes up in the boxes. Can’t wait to see what you do next 🙂

    • I was impressed with how compact it got, too! I feel less guilty about throwing it away now. A week worth of using cloth diapers should have our space in the landfill covered for it ;).

  5. At first I thought Dave was wearing a sweat band which I found hilarious, then I realized oh safety glasses. Equally hilarious but necessary.

  6. We had wallpaper under our mirror in the bathroom at our old house. What the heck are people doing before hanging mirrors?!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas and experience with the bathroom remodeling. We just bought an older home and have some of the same issues. You have given me some Very helpful ideas that I had not thought of like how to dispose the old mirror! We have been in our home 6 months and I have not been able to get started on the bathroom because I couldn’t figure out what I should start on first. I can’t wait to see your finished remodeled bathroom.

  8. How did you remove the adhesive left on the wall. Our 6′ mirror just fell off the wall one night and shattered all over the place. Thank God no one was in the bathroom at the time! We don’t know how to get the adhesive off the wall now.

    • We were lucky in that ours came off pretty easily with just a hammer and chisel. We got the big pieces of it off that way and then sanded down the residue with a power sander.

  9. We did the same thing, years ago but instead of discarding our 8 ft mirror, we took it downstairs and my husband and I made a wooden frame for it and it is now a 12 foot free standing mirror that we leaned on our wall – safely anchored, if course. We always get compliments on it and have been offered a lot of money to sell it. Good luck on all your future home improvement projects.

    • From the top….it came off pretty easily once it got started; we were lucky in that it just had those few glue spots instead of it being all over.

    • That’s a good question; whatever we did, apparently it wasn’t interesting or innovative enough to warrant its own blog entry, because I looked and couldn’t find one ;). As far as I can remember, most of it peeled and/or chipped off fairly easily (probably helped along by the fact that it had been put on over wallpaper instead of sheetrock). We also weren’t devoted to getting it entirely smooth, since we were hanging new mirrors up over most of the wall. Sorry I don’t have more helpful advice!

  10. OMG. I am sick to death of our early 90s bathrooms so am doing some googling to see if I can DIY some improvements, and found your blog. Two bathrooms have these hideous contractor grade frameless mirrors and your master bath looked just like ours still does! We live in Atlanta, too (Decatur, to be specific). I was actually more worried about how to dispose of the mirror than getting it off the wall, so thanks for that idea too! Wondering if you, too, had to deal with laminate cabinets. I’m going to check out the rest of your blog and see!

    • It turned out the trash people told us it was fine to just stick it out with the regular trash as long as it was boxed up in reasonably sized packages–super easy! We had/have cultured marble instead of laminate, so we opted to just keep it as is for now. If we’d had laminate I probably would have tried painting it, but the prospects for painting cultured marble seemed a little iffier. There’s a very long post about it around here somewhere 🙂

  11. I would never attempt to remove a builder mirror. Recently called local glass company and they will remove and dispose of my 48″ x 90″ mirror for $125.00. Cheaper than medical bills. Call me chicken!

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