Last Updated on June 23, 2022 by Kristi Linauer
I’ve spent the last three days making a DIY mosaic wood tile mirror frame to frame the vanity mirror in the bathroom makeover that I’m working on right now. I considered several DIY options for mirrors, and even considered purchasing a frame for my existing frameless mirror, but that seemed a bit boring for me.
I really wanted to make something custom for this bathroom, and I knew I wanted it to incorporate several shades of yellow. I realized the obvious choice was to make a mosaic tile framed mirror. The problem? There aren’t any mosaic tiles available that include the exact yellow of my vanity. So I decided to make my own…out of wood. Let me show you how I made my DIY mosaic wood tile mirror frame.
Step 1: Prepare and cut the wood tiles
Obviously, I needed to make a lot of “tiles” for my large vanity mirror, but because of the quantity that I needed, the material needed to be very inexpensive. I chose to use wood yardsticks and cut each one into several rectangles to create the mosaic tiles. It took twenty wood yard sticks for me to have enough tiles.
At 68 cents each, this was definitely the cheapest material available. The lattice at Home Depot that was comparable in width and thickness was about three times the price. And even with the added cost of the sanding discs that I had to use, the yardsticks were still way cheaper.
I used 80-grit sandpaper to remove all of the markings on one side of each of the yardsticks, and then followed up with 150-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface.
I learned from my custom vent cover project that you have to sand really well, or the markings will still show through after it’s painted. It takes more than just getting the color off. If you can still see any hint of the markings, they’ll show through. See how you can still see the “33” and the markings to the right of the 33? Those would show through a painted finish.
After all of the yardsticks were sanded, I used my miter saw to cut them into “tiles” that were just under one inch wide.
Step 2: Make the material for the basic frame
Then I moved on to preparing the actual frame. Since I don’t have access to actual frame moulding that has the rabbet on the back where the mirror would be inserted, and I don’t own a router that I can use to make a rabbet, I had to get a little creative.
To create the rabbet, I used a thick piece of lattice and glued it to what will be the outside edge of the back of the frame. Once the frame pieces are cut and pieced together as a large rectangle, the mirror will be placed into the inset area.
Then on the front of the 1″ x 4″, I marked where my mitered cut lines will eventually be. I did this so that I would know where to attach the wood tiles, and so I wouldn’t waste any tiles on areas that would be scrap.
Step 3: Adhere the wood tiles to the frame substrate
After the glued lattice was completely dry, I removed the clamps and started attaching my tiles, beginning with the edge.
…and then continuing to the front.
Here’s what the one section looked like when it was completely covered with tiles on the edge and the front.
Now if you’re wondering why I attached the tiles before cutting the lumber for the frame, it’s so that I could attach whole tiles and then cut them, rather than miter the frame corners first, and the having to cut and attach tiny pieces of the wood tiles on the mitered corners. I thought this would also give me more accurate miters.
Step 4: Cut the frame pieces and build the frame
After all of the wood tile pieces were adhered to the frame substrate, I then used my miter saw to cut the four frame pieces with the mitered corners.
Just in case you got a little lost with the preparation of the actual frame and the piece I attached to make a rabbet on the back, here’s a view of it after the frame pieces were mitered and placed together.
So now you can see the purpose of the lattice piece that I glued onto one edge of the 2″ x 4″, right? It’s on the outside edge of the back of the frame to form the rabbet where the mirror will be inserted once the frame is finished.
And here’s another look at how I attached the tiles to the frame first, and then mitered the corners (cutting through the tiles on the ends) to make the four pieces for the frame.
I hope that helps to clarify the construction.
Step 5: Paint the wood tiles
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 ceramic and porcelain 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.
Then I sprayed about four coats of Rust-Oleum Triple Thick Glaze…
Step 6: Grout the tiles
After it was completely dry (I waited many hours to be VERY sure that the clear finish was thoroughly dry) I grouted the tiles using non-sanded white grout. I used non-sanded grout so that it wouldn’t scratch the shiny finish on the tiles. Sanded grout would scratch the 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.
And here’s what it looked like after I put the mirror into the frame and hung it over the bathroom vanity…
The bathroom is finished! Click here to see the whole before and after of this condo bathroom makeover.
Addicted 2 Decorating is where I share my DIY and decorating journey as I remodel and decorate the 1948 fixer upper that my husband, Matt, and I bought in 2013. Matt has M.S. and is unable to do physical work, so I do the majority of the work on the house by myself. You can learn more about me here.
I hope you’ll join me on my DIY and decorating journey! If you want to follow my projects and progress, you can subscribe below and have each new post delivered to your email inbox. That way you’ll never miss a thing!