Removing a mirror from a wall is easy enough – if it’s a small mirror. It could be hung on a nail or a mirror hanger, but these are typically just a matter of lifting the mirror and removing it. Removing a heavy mirror from a wall, though, is not usually a one-man job. Depending upon how the mirror was originally fastened to the wall, you might need three or four helpers to get the job done.
If the mirror was put up using the small little plastic brackets, commonly used for hanging mirrors, this isn’t a difficult task. Usually, these little brackets have a piece of plastic shaped to lay flat against the wall, yet hold the mirror. Each mini bracket also has a screw that fastens it to the wall. Unscrew these brackets, one at a time, letting your helpers hold the mirror still.
If you unscrew all of the bottom ones, the mirror will sometimes slide right out from under the top ones, which were designed to keep the mirror from falling forward. You and your helpers can then just remove the mirror. Sometimes after removing the bottom ones, the mirror doesn’t slide out, so you’ll also have to have someone hold the mirror while you unscrew the top brackets.
Some mirrors are even harder to remove since many very heavy mirrors are actually glued to the wall, using various types of mastic. When mirrors are glued to drywall, it’ll probably be easiest to remove the entire section of the wall, and then replace the section of drywall. If this seems like more trouble than it’s worth, try using crowbars to remove the mirror.
Do not use one crowbar, which will probably cause the mirror to just crack or break. Instead, use several crowbars, or other long, flat, metal objects to push on the mirror at the same time. Have one person stand at each corner of the mirror and everyone pulls at the same time. This can be a dangerous job, so wear goggles, gloves, and safety shoes. If the mirror falls and breaks, it could cause damage to persons, shoes, carpet, or anything else that could be accidentally sliced.
Rarely does the mirror just pop off the wall, even with the crowbar method. More likely, it will break and come off in pieces. If you’re fortunate enough to get the mirror off in one piece, have a helper or two waiting to receive the mirror. In all probability, the mirror will leave damage to the wall. Adhesives which were originally used will remain stuck to the wall, presenting you with the problem of what to now do with the wall itself.
If your wall can easily accept liquids, your local home improvement store should sell solvents to somewhat dissolve the glue, but you’ll need to know exactly what type of adhesive to use. It’s important to choose the proper solvent and to read all instructions regarding how the solvent might affect the wall. Some solvents can actually eat into the wall itself, causing considerable damage.
In addition, solvents take time, so there’s no guaranteed way of knowing how long it will be before the mirror begins to rip away from the wall. If using the solvent method, you might need to temporarily put mirror clips, or brackets up to hold the mirror in place until the solvent has done its job. There should be a recommended time allowance listed on the package.
Allow this much time before checking to see if the mirror is loose. If not, it might be necessary to re-apply the solvent. After the solvent has loosened the mastic, remove the clips or brackets, and take down the mirror. The solvents will, in all likelihood, do some damage to the paint or wallpaper behind the mirror.
Any time you are removing a large mirror, plan on doing some work to the supporting wall. Plaster walls will likely lose chunks of plaster, the wallpaper will be damaged beyond repair, and painted walls will have to be redone.