Installing a brand new mirror is a fantastic, simple way to radically transform the look of any bathroom, and it’s a project that’s relatively easy to DIY. But of course, to install new mirrors, you’ll need to remove the old mirrors first.
Fortunately, this isn’t as difficult as you may think, since most bathroom mirrors aren’t screwed or bolted directly into the walls, but simply glued to their surfaces using industrial-strength adhesive. With a little know-how, patience, and effort, you’ll be able to remove those old mirrors on your own.
Before you begin, as with all home improvement projects, remember that personal safety is paramount—especially when there’s a chance of accidentally breaking mirror glass. Keep yourself protected by wearing a long-sleeved shirt and safety goggles, and keep a pair of thick, heavy gloves nearby to protect your hands and improve your grip.
Though possible to truly do this yourself, removing a glued-on bathroom mirror really is a two-person job, so get the help of a friend or partner to get the job done.
Once you’ve got your safety measures in place, it’s time to gather supplies. You may not end up using all of these materials, but it’s good to have them on hand before you begin to save yourself from an emergency trip to the hardware store mid-project.
- A heat gun or hairdryer
- Thick, sturdy tape (masking, duct, or packing tapes all work well)
- A heat gun or hairdryer
- A hammer
- Wood shims
- Piano or guitar wire
- Drop cloth
Tape the Mirror
Begin by applying several long strips of tape to the mirror in a criss-cross pattern. This will discourage it from shattering as it’s pried from the wall. Even if the glass ends up shattering, the tape will hold it together, keeping it from potentially damaging your sink, floor, or fixtures, as well as keeping you safe.
Utilize Your Heat Tool
Next, begin firmly pulling at the mirror from one corner to determine the strength of the adhesive behind it, and then pull out your heat gun or hairdryer. Using the highest setting, start blowing hot air across the mirror in small sections, starting at the corner while tugging gently. Hopefully, this will soften the adhesive in a minute or two—possibly enough for you to be able to pull off the mirror using heat alone.
If, while tugging, you feel the adhesive starting to give but it still won’t budge, use the heat gun to warm the entire mirror, then grab your guitar/piano wire. Slide the wire behind the mirror and begin moving it back and forth in a sawing motion.
If you have a helper, have them continue tugging the mirror from the top as you do this, as the gentle pressure will help the wire cut through the adhesive.
If this is still not enough to remove the mirror, it’s time to break out the big guns: the crowbar.
As a Last Resort, Try a Crowbar
Crowbars can easily damage drywall, which is why they should be a last-ditch effort, and also why you should use them slowly and deliberately.
- First, wedge a few wooden shims between the wall and the mirror, using a hammer to help if needed, placing them wherever they fit around the entire perimeter.
- Next, gently slide the tip of the crowbar between the wall and one of the shims, and while your assistant holds the mirror steady, begin prying until you can feel some slight movement.
- Then, move the crowbar to an adjacent shim and repeat.
- Once you’ve gone around the entire mirror, you can begin prying with a bit more force, again working your way around the sides until the mirror pops straight off the wall.
Dispose of the Mirror
If the mirror isn’t reusable or recyclable, dispose of it by placing it into the center of a drop cloth, wrapping it well, and smashing it into small fragments with a hammer. Place the cloth directly into a cardboard box or thick contractor bag—you may want to double up—and gently shake out the broken glass.
Remember to wear your safety equipment, especially eye protection, when disposing of your mirror.
Tidy Your Bathroom
Once the mirror has been removed, sweep and vacuum the bathroom, then inspect the wall for damage. If there’s any adhesive left on the wall, break out your heat gun again to soften it, then scrape it off with a drywall or putty knife. Use medium-grain sandpaper to remove any traces the putty knife is unable to dislodge, then clean the area with a wet cloth.