Repurpose an Old Window Into a Mirror Window

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About: Professionally I have been a summer camp counselor, a Draftsman/designer, salesperson, bicycle mechanic, laminate flooring machine mechanic, teacher, and designer of the OP Loftbed. Personally I am a human...

Intro: Repurpose an Old Window Into a Mirror Window

In this instructable I will show you how I took an old window and turned it into a mirror window. This sounds simple, remove glass from a window and put in pieces of mirror. It is pretty much that easy, but there a few tricks that will make the process go smoothly. I also needed to remove three layers of paint so that I could put on a crackle finish.

Step 1: Warning!

There are no images in this step, because they would be too gruesome for most people. You will be working with glass, so you could get cut. If your window is old enough, it has lead base paint. Lead rhymes with dead. It can kill you. Any time you work with lead base paint, you need to do so in a well ventilated area and wear a respirator, or at least a dust mask.

Step 2: Tools and Safety Equipment

As I mentioned in the last step, lead is deadly, take precautions. As usual wear safety glasses. Speaking of glass, mirrors are made with glass, and so is glass. Wear gloves and be careful.

I used a sturdy work table with clamps. A small chisel and slotted screwdriver. Pliers of a multitool. A couple of drill motors with wire brush attachments. A sanding block with sandpaper. The only specialty tool I used was a slotted screwdriver that I modified to have a notch in it to push the window cleats back in.

Step 3: Removing Glass

This step can be a bit of a pane.....sorry I love puns. There will be two sides of the window. What I call the front is solid. The back will have some type of putty that helps hold the glass panes in. You will have to scrape this putty out. I have found that a chisel and a slotted screwdriver work well for this. Under the putty, there will be small metal cleats, shaped like a diamond, that are also holding the panes in. You will have to remove the cleats or push them into the wood far enough to get the glass pane out past them. Hold on to the cleats so that you can use them later to hold the mirror panes in place. Also hold on to the glass panes. You can take them to the glass and mirror store to have them cut mirrors the right size and thickness.

Step 4: Removing the Old Paint

If your old window has the look you are going for, you can skip this step. My old window had three or four coats of different color paint, so I decided I was going to remove the old paint down to bare wood and paint on a crackle finish. I used a paint scraper, a couple of wire brush attachments on drill motors. I used a drimel tool to get in some of the tight spaces, and finished up sanding it smooth.

Step 5: Paint

I used a two part crackle finish paint. There are different brands and styles out there. I paid about ten dollars for the two can kit that I used. Read the instructions, I did not and had to do it right on the second try. My mistake was that I made a couple of passes on the second coat. The instructions said to make one pass and go slow enough to make a thick, runny coat. My second try worked perfect.

Step 6: Get Your Mirrors

I took the old window panes to a local glass and mirror place. They were able to cut the mirrors the exact size as the old glass panes. Mine were all 14 inches tall but varied in width from 6 inches to 6-1/4 inches. The four mirror panes cost 23.91

Step 7: Go to a Playground

The glass and mirror place said it would take about 30 minutes to cut the pieces of mirror. My assistant came with me so I took him to a nearby playground. He is only four years old and needed a break from the demanding job of being my assistant. Plus it was fun.

Step 8: Install Mirrors

Once the paint is dry, it is time to install the mirror panes. Remember that you will be working from the back so mirror shinny side down. I used a business card, from the glass store, to protect the back side of the mirror while using the modified screwdriver to push the metal cleats into the wood. I then used a hot glue gun to glue the mirror panes in.

Step 9: Prepair for Hanging

I used screw eyes and wire to hang the mirror window on the wall. Just like hanging a picture.

Step 10: Video

As always I made a video.

Thanks for viewing and enjoy.

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    7 Discussions

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    MargaretS102

    6 months ago on Step 3

    The 'cleats' are called glazing points :) I work as a historic window restoration technician, and would advise using a LOT of plastic underneath and around your work area. Lead paint is at its most dangerous when you power sand it, but chips can be ground up underfoot and are very dangerous for small children. (See https://www.epa.gov/lead/protect-your-family-exposures-lead)

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    CHARLESCRANFORDMargaretS102

    Reply 6 months ago

    I always enjoy learning the proper terms for things, thank you. I did not use plastic, but I did sweep up as soon as I was done. I try to be extra careful around old paint. Thanks for the advice.

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    TerriP39

    Tip 6 months ago on Step 3

    I know there is paint that makes a mirror, I would rather you used the glass you had then waste it.

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    CHARLESCRANFORDTerriP39

    Reply 6 months ago

    I had seen a couple of videos with the paint. Some had mixed results. I was thinking of trying this on the next one I do. I have saved the glass for another project. Thanks for the comment.

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    grapenut

    Tip 6 months ago

    Another neat idea for some apartment dwellers might be to fix this on a windowless wall (with or without a pseudo-window frame and sill) with some simple curtains over it to mimic an actual window. Arrange it on that windowless wall in the shower and it doubles as a shaving mirror.

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    CHARLESCRANFORDgrapenut

    Reply 6 months ago

    Thanks for the Comment. The first time I made one of these was when my parents added on to their house. One room had three windows, before the addition. Two of the windows were removed and doors leading into a new bedroom and bathroom took their place. I converted one of the old windows to a mirror window and hung it on the wall across from the real window. It really opened up the room and made it look brighter and larger. It was even better than I expected.

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    sgbotsford

    Tip 6 months ago

    Most mirror glass does not take kindly to being constantly wet. Water on the cut edge delaminates the reflective layer. If this actually is going to be used in the garden, you need to protect the edges of the mirror,I would suggest putting 2-3 coats of exterior paint on the edge and back of the glass, and hang it in a way that reduces water exposure.

    Also in the garden, the wood frame will be getting wet/drying This will cause it to shift. Put chunks of foam backer bead between the glass and the frame to keep the glass centred as the frame changes size and shape.

    If you want to cheap out on, this, with careful handling you can come close to a mirror using aluminum foil. Use the existing glass, and back the foil with cardboard. This won't be suitable as a "Is my makeup on" mirror, but may be good enough to see if you combed your hair.