Everything You Need to Know to Properly (and Safely) Hang a Heavy Mirror
Proper preparation, including choosing the right hardware, is key to hanging a mirror, whether it's above a vanity, on a brick wall, or a heavy statement piece.
Because they reflect light around a room, decorating with mirrors is a quick trick to make spaces feel bigger and brighter. But hanging hefty mirrors can be intimidating. Both robust and fragile, mirrors pose a challenge for drywall and plaster walls because of their size and weight. Most new mirrors come with mounting hardware, but selecting the proper installation hardware (the screws, bolts, and anchors that fasten into the wall) requires careful thought. After determining your wall type and picking out the right supplies, use the following advice on how to hang a heavy mirror securely so you can refresh your room while protecting your walls and decor.
How to Hang a Heavy Mirror
Set yourself up for success with the right tools and accurate measurements. Then, collect the important details needed to pick the best installation hardware for hanging a mirror.
What You Need
Note: The tools you need will be dependent on which wall anchors you use.
- Measuring tape
- Painters tape
- Stud finder or multifunction stud finder
- Wall anchors
- A helper to assist with lifting, measuring, and mounting the mirror
Step 1: Determine Mirror Weight and Mounting Hardware
Look for a mirror's weight in the product specs or simply weigh the mirror on a bathroom scale. Most new purchases have mounting hardware included. Look for D-rings, wire, clips, or brackets (also called French cleats) attached to the back or included as part of the purchase. If your mirror does not have mounting hardware, you'll first have to install it.
Step 2: Know Your Wall Type
Homes that are new builds or recently remodeled usually have drywall, while many older homes have plaster walls. If you're unsure which type you have, try pressing a thumbtack into the wall. You'll be able to easily push the tack into drywall but not into plaster. Masonry, such as brick, is another wall type you might encounter that will affect how you hang a mirror.
Step 3: Identify Studs and Potential Obstacles
Decide where you want to hang the mirror, marking the corners or edges with painters tape or a pencil. This will also help you visualize the mirror in the room. Then use a multi-function stud finder to locate any studs, pipes, or wires in the area. Studs can be helpful for hanging a heavy mirror, but be sure to avoid drilling through pipes or inserting a screw into live wires. For especially heavy mirrors, it's best to secure at least one screw into a stud, so now is a good time to reconsider if the proposed spot will work.
Step 4: Make the Mirror Level
Not only does a crooked mirror look bad, but hanging a heavy mirror unevenly could apply pressure that causes the fasteners to fail, potentially resulting in a lot of broken glass and a big hole in the wall. Measurements are critical in making a mirror level. Start by measuring and marking the top of the mirror with painters tape, then use a level to make sure the line is straight. Mark the center on the painters tape, too, because you'll need to reference this point while marking where to place screws and wall anchors. When transferring installation dimensions to the wall, it's imperative to level the measurement between the mounting points as well.
Leveling Tips for Different Types of Hardware
Brackets: This type of mounting hardware is the easiest to make level. Measure from the top of the mirror to the bracket as well as the length of the bracket. Transfer those measurements to the wall. When you're ready to install, start with the middle screw so that you have something in place, then level it out before putting in the rest of the screws.
D-rings or keyholes: Measure from the top of the mirror to the top of the D-ring or keyhole. Then measure the distance between the two mounting points. When transferring these measurements to the wall, pay special attention to level the two mounting points.
Wire: Measuring for wire is a little trickier since you'll need to determine the mounting points yourself. We suggest two points, so the weight is better distributed. With the mirror propped against the wall or lying face down, raise the wire up to make it taut and identify two points that will distribute the pressure equally across the wire. You don't want them too close together; for a large mirror, start around 12 inches (a standard ruler) and adjust from there. Once you've found the two points, measure the distance between them, and the distance between the taut wire and the top of the mirror. When transferring these measurements to the wall, make sure to level the two mounting points.
How to Hang a Heavy Mirror on Different Types of Walls
Although it's preferable to hang a heavy object from a stud in the wall, studs aren't always exactly where you want them. Instead, use wall anchors to secure a heavy mirror. The weight of the mirror and the type of wall it hangs on are the key factors in selecting the right wall anchor. It's good practice to choose a fastener that can hold more than the required weight. Most fastener packaging will tell you how much weight the product can hold, what type of wall it should be used on, and how to install it (including the drill bit size, if necessary).
D-rings, keyholes, and wire-mounted mirrors can all be hung on an anchored screw. Just remember to leave a quarter- or half-inch sticking out. Brackets, on the other hand, need to be in place before screws can be installed.
How to Hang a Heavy Mirror on Drywall
If screwing into a stud, you'll only need a 1-1/4-inch screw or 1-5/8-inch screw for secure mounting through 1/2-inch drywall. If you're hanging a heavy mirror on drywall without the support of a stud, you need drywall anchors that can bear the weight of your mirror. Check out sleeve expansion anchors for lighter weights. To install, drill a pilot hole then insert the anchor and tap or screw it into place, flush against the wall. Threading the screw into the anchor with either a screwdriver or drill will cause the anchor to expand and wedge firmly into the wall. Self-drilling drywall anchors work similarly but can handle heavier weights, and they don't require a pilot hole or drill to install.
How to Hang a Heavy Mirror on Plaster
If screwing into a stud, you'll likely only need a 3-inch screw (this gets the screw through 1 inch of plaster wall and 2 inches deep into the stud). If you're hanging a heavy mirror on plaster without a stud, your best bet is a hollow wall anchor, such as a toggle bolt, that expands and secures behind the plaster wall. In addition to picking the right weight capacity, the length of the hollow wall anchor is important because the bolt must extend beyond the wall so it can expand behind it.
Molly bolts are a medium-weight hollow wall anchor. To use, drill a pilot hole then tap the entire bolt (sleeve and screw) into the hole until flush against the wall. Tighten the bolt into the wall to expand the anchor. Once you've tightened the bolt fully, you can unscrew it a bit for space to hang the mirror. A metal toggle bolt is the strongest wall anchor available. Start by drilling a pilot hole, then thread the toggle onto the bolt so that the wings open towards the wall (not away from it). Push the toggle (wings folded down) through the pilot hole. The wings will open once inside. Pull the bolt towards you to secure the wings against the wall. Screw the bolt into place, tightening the wings.
How to Hang a Heavy Mirror on Brick and Other Surfaces
Like plaster and drywall, brick requires a wall anchor when installing a heavy mirror. Check out plastic sleeve anchors that are good for masonry, or a masonry sleeve anchor for really heavy decor. Unlike the others, brick requires some more specific tools to do the installation, including a hammer drill and masonry drill bits.
Similarly, if you're hanging a heavy mirror on a surface covering, such as tile or beadboard, be aware of both the materials needed to drill through the surface, as well as the type of wall behind it. A glass and ceramic drill bit, for example, will protect ceramic tiles from cracking as you drill a hole for an anchor.
How to Hang a Frameless Mirror
Many frameless mirrors rely on mirror clips installed at the top and bottom of the mirror (and sometimes along the sides). A new purchase would likely come with its own hardware, but you can also buy a pack of clips for a mirror (just make sure the mirror thickness matches the indicated clip thickness). Some mirror clips are designed to be seen around the mirror's edges, so there is some variety in the choices of shape, material, and finish, too.
Once you've found the right location, level the frameless mirror and mark the top and bottom corners. Follow the manufacturer's instructions if you have them, or measure 2.5 inches in from the top and bottom corners, and mark those locations, which will be where the outer clips will go. Install the bottom clips first, slide in the mirror, and then install the top clips.
If you aren't sure where to install the clips or how many to use, try checking out a similar product currently for sale at a home improvement store. These new products usually include directions and mounting hardware (sometimes accessible online) that you can use to get an idea of how to mount your own mirror.