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Bathroom Makeover Day 14: DIY Mosaic Wood Tile Mirror Frame – Finished!

I had hoped to have a beautiful picture to show you of my new framed mirror hanging above my bathroom vanity, but unfortunately, I don’t.

You see, when I’m doing a makeover and sharing it with you in real time, sometimes those “beauty shots” just aren’t possible. And when I try my hand at cutting a mirror at 9:30pm, and realize that while I do have many skills, mirror cutting is not one of them…

Broken mirror while trying to cut it myself

…and when I find myself still grouting my new mosaic tile mirror at 12:45am…well, it becomes apparent that that “beauty shot” is nothing but a dream, and the best I’ll be able to give you is a picture of my finished frame, sans mirror, leaning against the brick outside. 🙂

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DIY mosaic tile frame made from wood yardsticks

So I hate that you won’t get the full effect of the framed mirror hanging over my vanity (yet), but at least you can see how the frame turned out!

Make a mosaic tile mirror out of wood

I started with the color of my vanity (the darkest yellow on the frame), and painted random tiles using a craft paint brush*. Then I mixed some of that color with white, and painted more random tiles. Then I mixed in more white, and painted more random tiles. Then I repeated it one more time. Any remaining tiles were painted white.

When I finished that, the colors looked so harsh and “flat”. They had no depth or dimension to them, and real tiles are seldom one perfectly solid color. So I did some dry brushing of all of the colors onto all of the tiles using a 2″ paint brush*. I was amazed at the difference it made! It gave the tiles depth and color variation, and also softened the colors and made them blend beautifully.

I’m not sure if you can tell from this picture (since I took it well after the sun went down, and I was working by the light of my front porch light), but I’m hoping you can see the effect of the dry-brushing.  It made a very subtle difference, but enough to make me go from really not liking it at all, to absolutely loving it.

Dry brushing on wood tiles for mosaic tile frame

Then I sprayed about four coats of this stuff onto the frame…

Rustoleum Triple Thick Glaze with high shine finish

After it was completely dry (I waited about four hours), I grouted it. I just used plain white pre-mixed grout*.

Make a mosaic tile frame with wood tiles

I really love how it turned out, and it looks amazing with my yellow vanity, next to the dark teal wall. I’ll show it to you as soon as I can.

DIY mosaic tile framed bathroom mirror

But for now, I need a nap. 🙂

Psst…Did you miss the first two posts on this project? If so, you can click here to see how the mirror was constructed, and then click here to see more detailed info on the construction (as well as an “in progress” picture).

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61 Comments

  • Reply To This Comment
    Mehgan
    February 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Oh wow… absolutely LOVE that frame! You are so crazy creative!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Jennifer Loy
    February 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Totally agree with Mehgan..who would have thought that yard sticks could look like that…only you. Nailed it again..WOW!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Diane
    February 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

    It looks amazing!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Katy
    February 20, 2013 at 11:39 am

    This looks amazing. I can’t believe the stuff you come up with! Love it!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Sharon B.
    February 20, 2013 at 12:03 pm

    Oh man, that must have been so disappointing when the mirror broke! The frame is beautiful, I love it! So so creative.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Gen
    February 20, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Well deserved nap! Curious to know what it looked like before you dry brushed all the tiles (I’m guessing with white paint to lighten it up, or am I getting that wrong?), I thought it was gonna be darker. Looking forward to seeing it hung up! Great job so far 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 20, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      Before I dry-brushed it, the tiles just looked so one dimensional, harsh, and “flat”. Not sure if I’m explaining it right. But you know how real tiles have subtle color variations that give them character and dimension? My newly-painted tiles didn’t have that at all. They just looked…well…”flat”. The dry-brushing didn’t really do much to lighten them up, but it definitely gave them some pretty color variation and dimension. It also softened the look some (so that the colors weren’t so harsh), and blended the tiles a bit, like you would see with real mosaic tile.

      Hope I’m making sense! 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm

      I just added a picture showing the frame with one side dry-brushed, and one side not dry-brushed. I took it late at night, so I’m not sure if it shows up well, but hopefully you can tell the difference!!

      • Reply To This Comment
        Gen
        February 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

        Thank you for the extra picture, I do get what you mean, but I actually like the before dry-brushing, too. What matters is what you like, though 🙂 Also just thought of this, I think your mosaic wooden tiles concept would look awesome done with alcohol ink. Never personally done anything with alcohol ink, though, not too sure how to go about it… just a thought.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Sheila Edmond
    February 20, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    Beautiful! Why did you chose the triple thick glaze? Have you used this product before and can you talk a bit more about it? What other projects would this product be good for? TIA

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 20, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      This was my first time to use the triple thick glaze. My thought was that I wanted to coat the tiles with something that would make them super incredibly shiny before I grouted them, because I knew that the grouting process would probably dull the finish a bit, and I still wanted them to end up somewhat shiny (which they are). So I looked for the spray that would give me the absolute most shine. This one said it gives a “glass-like” shine, so it’s the one I chose.

      Not sure what else I could use it for, but I’d love to use it on something else! The finish (before I grouted) really was super shiny and pretty.

      • Reply To This Comment
        Sheila Edmond
        February 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

        Thanks for your response. I’m thinking lamps and refinishing ceramic vases.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Kristi's mom
    February 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Amazing! I love the frame! What size is it? I have three mirrors that I don’t need. I’m sure one of them would work. Come get it after your nap! Might be a good idea to take it right on to someone who can cut it down for you. 🙂

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 20, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      Bummer! The mirror needs to be 30″ x 34.25″ to fit into the frame. But I already called and ordered one! (And yes, I learned my lesson about trying to DIY mirror cutting.) 🙂 I didn’t even think about you having a mirror I could use!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Gilmer Gal
    February 20, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Love, love it! Almost hate to see this project coming to an end.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Debi
    February 20, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    You’re amazing, Kristi, and the frame looks FAB!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Teralyn Byrd
    February 20, 2013 at 11:44 am

    So awesome! It looks great

  • Reply To This Comment
    Cim Allen
    February 20, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    I love it .. the colors look awesome, can’t wait to see it on the wall 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment
    Karen
    February 20, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Absolutely fantastic – esp. what you manage in the time span of just one day!!! I would have taken days to paint the tiles for fear of leaking paint onto other tiles… How did you do the grouting? I cannot quite imagine how you applied it to the thin spaces between your tiles. Many thanks for sharing your idea – all your ideas – you are sooo imaginative, it’s very impressive and contagious!!!
    Love to read your blog
    Karen

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Truth be told, I did the grouting with my hand. 🙂 I actually did purchase a grout float to use, but when it came right down to it, that grout float just seemed so big and bulky for such a small project. They’re great for doing big projects like tiled floors and walls, but for small projects like this, they almost seem to get in they way. (Some tile supply company really needs to start making craft-size grout floats for small projects!!)

      So, I just dipped my hand right into the grout, and used my fingers to smear and smoosh it into the cracks. It was actually kind of fun. 🙂 Then instead of using one of the big yellow sponges that you use (again) to do big tile projects, I used one of the little kitchen sponges to wipe off the excess grout. Worked perfectly!

      • Reply To This Comment
        Kimberly
        February 21, 2013 at 10:50 pm

        Kristi,

        I’ve always wondered if putting the grout in a make-shift “cake icing bag” (something like a heavy-ish plastic formed into a funnel, with the tip cut off) and just “icing” between the tiles/into the grout lines would work? Of course, you’d probably want to overfill the grout lines a bit and then use your grout float to get rid of the excess so you could get an authentic grouted tile look. Just a thought!

        – Kimberly

        • Reply To This Comment
          Karen
          February 22, 2013 at 7:37 am

          that’s exaclty how I tried to explain the grouting to myself and which made me ask Kristi in the first place – the image of a piping bag kept popping up in my mind 🙂 I guess it would be worth a try, even though I have to say that Kristi’s way of doing it seems so much easier – and the result is so great that it doesn’t actually need an improvement… but it’s great when you realise that other people come up with the same ideas 🙂

  • Reply To This Comment
    Jen L.
    February 20, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I love this!! So inspired to make my own! You are so creative, it’s such a great project!!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Jeni
    February 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Girl, you amaze me every time I click on one of your photos! Was not expecting to see your “real” mosaic tiles look so…well, mosaic. Expected more of a yard stick I guess. Well done!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Jayashree
    February 20, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Wow! I have never come across a person as creative, imaginative as you. Your projects inspire me. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Sue
    February 20, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    I love your ’tile’ mirror frame and can’t wait to see the mirror in it and hung in the bathroom! That triple thick sealer provides shine and should make the frame easy to wipe clean/dry. Getting down to the end of the project and I’m excited for you to have this lovely new bathroom as a great selling feature in your home. Woot! Woot!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Lomr
    February 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    Love that idea, that tile mirror frame came out really great.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Pat
    February 20, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Supercalifragliticexpieladocious….!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Carla
    February 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Really awesome Kristi and I absolutely plan to copy this!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Michelle
    February 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Don’t feel bad about having troubles cutting a mirror! I used to work at a custom framing store and we had big industrial glass cutters that were wall mounted and we turned away mirrors. Company policy didn’t allow us to cut them. they are an entirely different monster from regular glass. You are a brave woman for even attempting it!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Lisa
    February 20, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    Stunning! I love the dry brushing effect. I’ve done that to soften some of my projects, too!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Kathy
    February 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    I LOVE this!! It looks great!! Too bad about the mirror. That’s something that would totally happen to me.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Winnie
    February 20, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Love the project, but I do have to ask … any particular reason you didn’t paint all the tiles before adhering them to the frame ? Seems to me that would have been much easier.
    Also, when you did the dry brushing at the end to soften the colors, did you do that step with just white paint ?

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      You could certainly paint them first. For me, it seemed much easier to paint them after they’re attached. On most of them, you only have to paint the face of the tiles. The sides (unless they’re on the edge) don’t need paint. So the process was actually quite easy.

      For the dry brushing, I actually used all five colors randomly.

      • Reply To This Comment
        Winnie
        February 20, 2013 at 11:42 pm

        Ah, yes … I didn’t think about the sides of the tiles. And I agree that the dry brushing makes them look much better. Great job, and interesting project !

  • Reply To This Comment
    Jan
    February 20, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Wow, you sure are creative! I live in Mexico where I think I can get little tiles to do this with…I’m not as ambitious as you! Maybe I’ll try it with little ceramic tiles…you are really inspiring!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Krista
    February 20, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Looks fabulous! Can’t wait to see it hung over your adorable new vanity!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Gloria Daly
    February 21, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Superb! Love it. Another awesome creation!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Mark E Tisdale
    February 21, 2013 at 3:11 am

    I would never guess that was made from yard sticks! Wow!

  • Reply To This Comment
    ECKDesign
    February 21, 2013 at 9:48 am

    I just absolutely love your creativity and aptitude in making wonderful things with diverse materials on a limited budget. I especially like your honesty and “naturalness” and ability to really engage with your readers in your posts. I can’t wait to see this bathroom makeover! =o)

  • Reply To This Comment
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  • Reply To This Comment
    Runt
    February 21, 2013 at 10:38 am

    Oh my stinking goodness!!! That looks amazing!!!!!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Cindy
    February 21, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Bummer about the mirror! I have learned not to attempt too much when I am tired….in other words, been there done that! Your frame looks fabulous! When I saw the first post about it, I didn’t have your vision, but WOW, it looks fantastic! Very clever!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Anika
    February 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Its amazing what you come up with!!! I cant believe it!!
    I love your blog….
    Can you show us a picture of the back of the frame and how your built it with the kreg jig… I am now so motivated to do something similar for framing a picture I have…
    Thanks! you are a great inspiration!
    Anika

    • Reply To This Comment
      Kristi Linauer
      February 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      I actually ended up not using the Kreg Jig to put it together. Because of the piece of lattice that I glued onto the back to create the rabbet, it wouldn’t sit flat in my Kreg Jig so that I could drill the holes.

      So I ended up putting it together using lots of wood glue, and then I nailed it together (nailed through the edge of the frame, with two nails going each direction on each corner) using my brad nailer (the kind with the air compressor). Then I followed up with my staple gun, and put a few staples on each corner (on the back of the frame) to hold the two pieces together even better. Then I left it perfectly flat until the glue dried.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Kim
    February 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    I love it! You set high standards for yourself. We will see the mirror over the vanity when the time is right. Take your much deserved nap!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Dee
    February 21, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    WOW!!!! that looks amazing. How do you dream up such ideas? This one must be pinned for reference. Get some sleep girl – you sure earned it.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Heather Robertson
    February 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    That is so beautiful!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Janet
    February 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Dry brushing definitely gave it life! Love the effect and your creativity.

  • Reply To This Comment
    Kimberly
    February 21, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    Kristi,

    You are so amazingly creative, it’s astounding! I’d love to crawl inside your brain and see how it functions … I bet ideas are just FLYING around in there! You always come up with the most interesting projects. You also have amazing problem solving skills. Why hasn’t someone hired you to host your own show?

    – Kimberly

  • Reply To This Comment
    Maria G.
    February 22, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I could try crafting that but it wouldn’t look as perfect as what you just crafted. It just showed your creativity. I really appreciate people who make DIY projects look so easy. That was just a frame but it already looks good. I can just imagine how perfect it would look if there is already a glass and if it is already hanging on your bathroom wall. I hope you can post a picture of the mirror completely done. Thank you.

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    designdreamer
    July 6, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    WOW!!!! That mirror is so cool!!!
    Until I read the post, I actually thought you had somehow used mosaic tiles (you know the kind that’s all the rage now, no doubt that was your intention of what you wanted it to end up looking like – please excuse my grammar) I LOVE it! Thanks for all the details AND thanks for bringing new products to my attention!

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    Marie
    October 24, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I just found your website while looking for you faux wood plank wall and I am in love! Your house is amazing and you have some great tutorials!

  • Reply To This Comment
    mzklever
    January 31, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I love this! I may do a small wall in my kitchen with this technique. I think it might be easier to paint the full yardsticks before cutting, rather than painting after…I imagine that (for a wall) not cutting the yardsticks would give the same look as your gorgeous green credenza…I *LOVE* that wood!! You have such great ideas and fabulous tips. Thank you!

  • Reply To This Comment
    Chelle Ellis
    October 4, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    I guess using yardsticks the cuts measure themselves! I bet it would also look nice with varying colorwash tones where you can still see the measurements.

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