Mirrors generally come with clips or wire to make hanging them horizontally or vertically easy, but you need a little ingenuity if you want to be offbeat and hang one at an angle. Sometimes you can do this with the clips provided, but you need a whole different strategy for mirrors equipped only with hooks designed for picture hanging wire. One solution is to mount the mirror in a wooden frame and screw the frame to the wall, but what do you do with a frameless mirror—particularly a heavy one? A French cleat provides an elegant workaround.
What's a French Cleat?
Often used for securing a shelf or a cabinet to a wall, a French cleat consists simply of two pieces of wood. Each piece has an edge beveled to a 45-degree angle. You mount one piece on the wall with the bevel facing up and sloping downward toward the wall, then mount the other piece on the mirror with its bevel facing downward and sloping upward toward the mirror. The mirror portion of the cleat slides over the wall mounted piece, locking the pieces together to stabilize and support the mirror.
Tools and Materials You Will Need
- 3/4-inch or 1-inch thick wood or plywood
- Table saw
- Drill and bits
- Wall anchors
- Two-part epoxy glue
Making a French Cleat
You can easily make a French cleat from a single piece of wood or plywood, using either a table saw or a circular saw. Here's how to do it:
Step 1: Select Wood
Start with a piece of lumber that is at least 5/8 inches thick and 2 inches wide. If you're hanging a heavy mirror that needs plenty of support, use 3/4- or 1-inch lumber that is 3 to 4 inches wide.
Step 2: Crosscut to Length
Crosscut the lumber, using a circular saw or a hand saw, to a length no more than two inches shorter than the width of the mirror. You want to get as much support as possible from the cleat, but you don't want to see it sticking out from behind the mirror.
Step 3: Cut the Bevel
Rip a 45-degree bevel along the length of the cleat down the center to give you two matching pieces. You can do this with a circular saw, but a table saw is easier and more accurate. If you don't have tools at home, you can probably get the cleat made at your local lumberyard.
Step 4: Trim the Mirror Cleat
Cut an extra inch or two off the end of one of the pieces. This shorter piece will be mounted on the mirror. The extra length on the longer wall piece allows you to drive a screw through the end to prevent the mirror from sliding.
Attaching the Cleats
Glue the shorter piece to the mirror using two-part epoxy glue. Spread the cement evenly over the whole surface of the cleat and set the cleat on the back of the mirror. The cleat should be centered widthwise, parallel to the top edge and about a third of the length of the mirror away from the top. Secure it with tape and let the glue set overnight.
Mounting the other half of the bleat on the wall is a bit more complicated because you need to drill holes in the drywall and install wall anchors. Follow this procedure:
Step 1: Drill Mounting Holes on the Wall Cleat
Drill two holes in the cleat, 1 to 2 inches from each end, using a 1/4-inch drill bit. Hold the cleat on the wall at the angle at which you want to mount the mirror, mark the positions of the holes with a pencil and remove the cleat. When placing the cleat, be sure to account for the part of the mirror that will be above it.
Step 2: Insert Wall Anchors
Drill a hole into the wall at each pencil mark and tap in a wall anchor. Plastic conical anchors are fine for mirrors weighing less than five pounds. For heavier mirrors, use anchors designed to hold the weight, such as toggle bolts or molly bolts.
Step 3: Mount the Wall Cleat
Set the wall cleat back in position and drive screws through the holes into the anchors. Be sure the top edge of the cleat is angling downward toward the wall. Drill one more hole about 1/2 inch from the lower end of the cleat and drive a screw through that hole until its head is flush with the surface of the wood. The purpose of this screw is to prevent the mirror from sliding off the cleat.
Step 4: Hang the Mirror
Hang the mirror by placing the mirror down over the top of the wall cleat so the bevels fit together.
If you have a long or very heavy mirror, you may need two cleats —one near its top and the other near the bottom.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.