Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall

Removing floor-to-ceiling mirror panels

Ask This Old House Crew
Photo by Matt Kalinowski

One wall in my house is covered floor to ceiling with five 2-by-8-foot mirrors. I'd like to remove them, but it appears that they have been adhered to the drywall. What's your advice on the best way to proceed?
— Phil, Roselle, N.J.


Tom Silva replies: Very, very carefully. Given the size of the mirrors, I'm not surprised that they were adhered to the wall. Mastic adhesive, usually troweled on in fist-size areas, prevents large mirrors from rattling and eliminates the need for brackets and frames.
Brian Sullivan, the flat-glass manager at Plymouth Glass and Mirror, tells me your options are limited. One removal technique is to slip a piano wire behind the mirror and "saw" it back and forth through the adhesive. Another trick, says Sullivan, is to pull off the glass using a special suction cup device. (Some of the drywall's surface paper may come off in the process; the damage can be repaired by skim-coating the drywall surface with joint compound.) But Sullivan says there are cases where the best way to remove a glued-on mirror is just to break it.
All of these methods are hazardous — glass can suddenly shatter, whether you intend it to or not. So rather than tackle this work on your own, let a professional from a glass company handle it. They have the specialized gear to protect themselves from razor-sharp shards of flying glass.


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