How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror

A Step-by-Step Guide for How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror

Building a smart mirror is one of the most accessible renovations to upgrade to a smart bathroom in an efficient and affordable manner.

You may use a smart mirror to display personalized content, date and time, your schedule, or even daily updates. You can even put personal messages and watch videos on the smart mirror.

The benefit of making your own magic mirror is that you decide the exact size and style of the mirror, while also choosing which apps and functionalities are installed. Buying a manufactured smart mirror means you’re stuck with available sizes and styles on offer, which might not match your bathroom’s design.

You can also customize your smart mirror’s functions to match your needs for other rooms, such as in your kitchen or living room.

Key Point: In this DIY guide, we walk you each step of how to build your own smart mirror. And we’ll provide tips for how to get the most out of it.

Smart Mirrors Are All About Functionality and Aesthetics!

How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror

Smart mirrors represent an accessible by highly functional upgrade for your smart home (check out our guide to upgrading to a smart home for more tips and information.

Mirrors are interior pieces that, on top of their main purpose, are commonly used to create the illusion of a large space. There’s no limit to where a mirror can be placed to increase the feeling of space in a room.

Today, we see the next big thing in mirrors.

The smart mirror or sometimes called the magic mirror is displayed in kitchens, in the shower, but most commonly in the bathroom over the sink in a bathroom mirror’s traditional location.

And we should mention that if you want to just buy one instead of building your own, we have a ranking of the best smart mirrors for your bathroom.

The first step to building your DIY smart mirror is to decide in which room you want your smart mirror.

  • Smart mirrors in your kitchen can display recipes or meal plans.
  • A magic mirror in the bathroom lets you check social media updates, search the latest news, and watch trending videos on YouTube while you go through your bathroom routine!
  • A smart mirror in the living room can give you weather updates and displays your calendar or schedule.

When you know how to build your own smart mirror, you can elevate your home to smart home status. And improve the functionality of your home or office interior with a functional and aesthetically pleasing piece!

Our Recommendation: Before you start building your own smart mirror, first decide what exactly you would like it to do and where in your home you want it to go.

Building Your Own Smart Mirror: Here’s The Only Guide You’ll Need

Step 1: Gather the Materials and Tools

The cost of building this smart mirror project will depend on how customized you want it to be.

Typically, building your own smart smart mirror costs anywhere between $200 and $700, depending on the brand of your materials.

Of course, if you have some of the items at home already, you’ll be spending less to create this useful mirror.

For the DIY smart mirror, you’ll need to prepare the following materials:

  • Computer Monitor – Instead of using an old computer monitor, it’s best to opt for a thin one so the smart mirror won’t be bulky. Make sure that the monitor is Wi-Fi capable and has buttons with touch capability. You may choose the monitor size according to your preference.
    • Note: The size of the monitor’s screen determines the size of the smart mirror’s screen once it’s finished.
  • Personal Protective Equipment – Safety first! You’ll need to wear protective equipment like industrial gloves, goggles, and hearing protection. You may also use face shields to protect your face from shards and a face mask or respirator to prevent harmful dust from entering your body.
  • Measuring Tools – You may use a measuring tape or straightedge.
  • Woodworking tools – You’ll be doing some woodwork so you’ll be needing tools such as a hand saw, table saw, or miter saw
  • Screwdriver – Look for one that has a flat-laded tip since this will be used In disassembling the monitor.
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Bungee Cords 
  • Wood Glue and Wood Filler
  • Shims or Nylon Straps
  • Wood – This will be used in setting up your frame. It’s recommended to use one-inch thick slabs. The size and number of wood pieces depends on your monitor size.
  • Two Way Glass – This is to achieve the desired two way mirror effect
  • Raspberry Pi Kit – This includes a USB adapter, power cord, HDMI cable, and a Raspberry Pi case.
  • Computer Accessories – To fully navigate your monitor, you’ll be needing a keyboard and a mouse. You may opt for Bluetooth-enabled ones to lessen the number of cords to be attached.
  • Zip ties or Velcro straps
  • Frame Hook – You’ll be needing one if you’ll be hanging your smart mirror. It’s best to choose a heavy-duty one since it’ll be carrying the weight of the computer monitor along with the picture frame.

Our Recommendation: Make sure that you have all of these tools and accessories before you begin. There’s nothing worse than your DIY project coming to a halt because you’re missing something you need.

Notes on Preparing Your Smart Mirror’s Wooden Frame

DIY smart mirror guide
Wooden frame with decorative finish

The best thing about this smart mirror project is that the mirror frame may be customized in many ways. You may decide to either paint or stain your wooden frame.

If you plan on painting the frame, you’ll need some paint of course (or stain / sealant). You will also need wood filler and sandpaper. You may use either 80 or 120-grit sandpaper to effectively smoothen the wooden surface.

For those planning to have a natural-looking wooden frame, you’ll need to treat the surface with some wood stain and coat it with polyurethane to prevent it from scratches.

To smoothen the frame surface, start with an abrasive sandpaper like the 80 and 120-grit ones and then use the fine 220-grit ones. Additionally, you may use wood fillers to fill gaps and holes in the frame.

Use a stainable wood filler so you can easily stain the surface at the end.

Our Recommendation: The wooden frame will be one of the most visible aspects of this project, so we suggest taking extra care to get the frame looking how you want it.

Step 2: Disassemble the Monitor.

  • To determine the size of the wooden frame, you’ll need to measure the computer monitor by disassembling the monitor frame.
  • If the monitor comes with a stand, it’s best to remove it first so it won’t get in your way.
  • Next, you’ll need to plug in the computer monitor and turn it on to make sure it’s working perfectly.
  • Max out the brightness and lay the monitor face down on top of any soft surface such as a towel-covered table or mattress to avoid any scratches.
  • Look for screws that secures the front and back panels of the monitor’s frame, and remove them.
  • Next look for the seam surrounding the monitor and, with the use of a flat screwdriver, gently take the monitor apart.

Summary: You want to harvest the computer screen from the monitor setup. So make sure you don’t apply too much pressure to the screen otherwise it might scratch or even crack. This would ruin the screen for our purposes.

Step 3: Determine Dimensions and How Much Wood You Need

  • Once your monitor has been disassembled, get the measurements of its length and width which you’ll be using as the basis for the size of the frame.
  • It’s important to add an allowance of about half an inch on your measurements so you can adjust for a better fit.
  • For example: f your monitor measures 10.5″ x 18″ you need to use two pieces of wood 11″ long and another set of two pieces of wood 18.5″ long to build the frame.
  • The recommended thickness of the front frame is 1″ while the width may be about 3″, but you may also go with your preferred dimensions.
    • Note: Some people even purchase a pre-made picture frame for the front frame. Just make sure it’s the right dimensions if you do this.
  • You want to make sure all the hardware fits comfortably within the width of the frame, allowing for the glass sheet on top.
  • To determine the dimensions of the box, use a measuring tape to check how thick the monitor is.
  • Keep the monitor’s screen side down, and measure from the surface up to the back of the monitor. This will be used as a reference for the thickness of the box where the monitor will be installed.
  • Remember to add a little wiggle room. of about half an inch in your measurement.
  • As for the box’s width and length, you may use the same measurements determined for the frame.
smart mirror DIY 1

Note: You’ll want to double check that you aren’t loosing too much screen space from it being covered up by the frame.

Summary: This step is all about measurement. Double check your calculations to make sure that everything lines up for the desired size of the monitor screen / mirror. But also make sure these dimensions will work in the space where you intend to install it.

Step 4: Build the Front Frame of the Box

  • In order to put your frame together, you’ll first need to cut wood using a hand saw or miter saw.
  • Make sure to cut the edges at 45-degree angles so each corner forms a 90-degree angle.
  • Once you’re done cutting the frame boards, use wood glue to connect them to each corner.
  • You may use painter’s tape to keep them in place while waiting for the wood glue to dry up.
  • Usually, drying time may take up to a day but this varies depending on every brand’s specification.
  • After the wood glue has dried, you may remove the tape and use wood filler to fill the gaps along the corners.
  • Make sure to use the right kind of wood filler, especially if you’re planning to stain the wooden surface instead of painting it.
  • After the wood filler and glue has dried, follow the instructions on the packaging of the sandpaper to smoothen the wooden surface of the frame.
  • Start with course sandpaper and move up to fine grit to finish. You’ll do this again later, but we want the front frame to be as polished looking as possible.
  • Use a wash cloth or shop vac to remove saw dust from the front frame.
smart mirror DIY 2

Note: Once the frame is assembled, turn on the monitor and lay the frame on top of it. Make sure everything lines up and that the frame is an appropriate size.

Our Recommendation: Spend extra time on this step to give the glue and wood filler enough time to dry before sanding. A smooth and well-painted or well-stained wooden frame will impress all who see it!

Step 5: Assemble the Back Frame of the Box

  • Unlike the front-facing frame, the box assembly doesn’t require you to cut the wood boards at an angle since these seems won’t be showing (this will be back of the frame box).
  • Simply duplicate the wooden frame. Follow the frame measurements and connect each corner using wood glue.
  • Instead of using painter’s tape, you may use bungee cords to hold the box in place while waiting for the glue to dry.
  • Make sure that each corner follows a 90-degree angle so your box won’t tilt. Drying time make take up to 24 hours, depending on the product instructions.
smart mirror DIY 3

Summary: Use a thin monitor screen to minimize the width of your smart mirror box for a sleek design. 3 inches should be plenty of space otherwise.

Step 6: Attach Frames of the Box

  • After both your front frame and back frame, attach them together with glue.
  • Just like the previous steps, use wood glue to seal the edges where the back frame and front frame touch.
  • Once gluing the front frame and back frame, use paperweights or heavy objects so both wooden parts stay in place. Wait for the wood glue to dry; it usually takes 24 hours.
  • Once the wood glue has dried, you may proceed with filling the gaps with a wood filler.
  • Reminder: Be mindful of using the right wood filler, especially if you’re planning to stain the wooden surface of your DIY smart mirror. 
How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror - image 4

Our Recommendation: After assembling the box, place in the glass and then the monitor to double check dimensions. It’s okay for there to be some wiggle room, but you want to make sure there are the glass and monitor fill the space of the front frame without any gaps.

Step 7: Time for Sanding, Painting or Staining, and Sealing.

Over shoulder view of carpenter sanding frame at workbench
  • Now it’s time to customize your frame! You can either paint or stain the surface, depending on your preference.
  • If you prefer painting it, begin by sanding the surface of the assembled frame and box using abrasive sandpaper such as 80 or 120 grit.
  • Specifically, you need to sand and paint or stain the front of the frame and the sides. You don’t need to paint or seal the back unless you’re using a wooden back panel in for a smart mirror going in your bathroom.
    • Note: If you use a wooden back panel and the mirror will go in a bathroom, you need to sand and seal both sides to prevent water damage or mold that might arise from the high humidity of your bathroom.
    • Use a PVC or vinyl back panel to avoid this step.
  • For painting: Apply your preferred paint color. Choose a frame color that would either make your own smart mirror stand out or match the tone of the room it’s going into.
    • Tip: Be sure to use a paint that’s water resistant if you plan to install your smart mirror in a bathroom.
  • For staining: You can stain the assembled frame and box if you would rather maintain the natural wooden look. Start by preparing the wooden surface by using 80, 120, or 220 grit sandpaper. This will allow the wooden surface to absorb more wood stain and produce a darker tone.
    • Tip: For the smoothest and most polished looking wood, start with a course grit and then work up to a finer and finer grit.
  • Let the wood stain dry and finish with a top coat of polyurethane. This helps maintain the wood stain color, protects it from water damage, and gives it an appealing shine.
How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror - image 5

Our Recommendation: If you’re able to purchase a quality wood for the front frame, we recommend sanding and staining it. This will bring out the beauty of the wood grains and looks great. You can use cheaper wood for the back frame and back box because it won’t show as much.

Step 8: Attach the Glass

  • After successfully assembling your frame and box, proceed with inserting the glass.
  • Make sure that your two-way glass has the same dimensions as your box for a perfect fit.
  • Place the box on the ground with the frame facing down.
  • Simply place your two way glass into the box. Because the frame is wider than the back frame of the box, the glass should fit in perfectly.
  • Be careful not to leave any hand print on the back side of the mirror. You may wipe it using a cotton cloth and glass cleaner.
  • It is not necessary to glue or fasten the glass, as everything will be held in place by either a back panel or straps and shims.

Our Recommendation: Wear cotton gloves and lay your materials down on clean towels so that no hair, debris, or hand marks transfer to the glass. You want the glass to be totally clean and spotless when installing it. You can clean the front of the glass later, but not the back!

Step 9: Insert the Monitor and Secure with Straps and/or Back Panel

  • Before inserting the monitor to the back side of your frame, make sure that the screen is spotless. You don’t want those fingerprints to appear after the whole smart mirror has been set up.
  • Lay the monitor in your desired orientation.
  • Lastly, connect the power cord to the monitor and plug in your raspberry pi. Note the orientation of the cords for reference when drilling holes or notches later.
  • Now you have a choice to make. Do you want a solid back to your smart mirror, or do you want to secure the screen with straps and shims?
    • Note: If there’s too much wiggle room in your box, you may need to secure your monitor with shims before attaching the back panel.
    • On the other hand, if the monitor or raspberry pi protrude from the back frame, you’ll need to rely on straps and shims since a back panel won’t work.
  • For a solid back panel: It should be thin sheet of wood or PVC panel that matches the dimensions of the frame.
    • Note: A PVC or vinyl sheet is a plastic material that’s both sturdy and resistant to humidity and water damage. This makes it ideal for a DIY smart mirror for your bathroom.
  • Consider drilling a hole for wires either in the back of the back panel or the bottom of the back frame.
  • Important: If you decide to go with a solid back panel, follow Step 10 now to install your raspberry pi before sealing up the box. Because you won’t have access to the back of the monitor once the back panel is installed.
  • Attach the back panel to the back frame to form the box. This will be back the of the smart mirror, so there’s no need to finish or sand the wood because it won’t show.
  • To do this, cover the back frame with glue and attach the solid back panel.
  • Use weights to hold in place while it dries. Give it about 24 hours.
  • If you forgo a back panel, reference these images for installing shims and straps: Then proceed to step 10.
How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror - image 6
How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror - image 7

Tips: You don’t have to use a back panel for a DIY smart mirror that’s going in your bathroom, but you will want to pay close attention that the back of the mirror isn’t exposed to too much humidity. This can short circuit the inner workings of the monitor and the raspberry pi.

If you decide to go with straps and/or shims and then notice an issue., you can always add a back panel after the fact.

Our Recommendation: Use a thin but strong wood or PVC for the back panel, so that the finished smart mirror will be thin and sleek looking. A PVC panel is the superior option for a smart mirror going in your bathroom. A panel of plywood will be affordable but may be too thick.

Step 10: Install Your Raspberry Pi and Customize You Magic Mirror

  • To complete your smart mirror setup, you’ll need to plug in your Raspberry Pi along with a memory card and HDMI cable.
  • Turn the device on and proceed with installing the operating system.
  • After that, follow the instructions and choose from the monitor’s settings.
  • You may switch the orientation setting to portrait mode, depending on how you’ll hang the frame on the wall and how much of the screen is covered by the front frame.
  • Proceed to download the Magic Mirror software. Once done, you’re all set to choose the modules that’ll appear on your smart mirror.
  • Customize away according to your liking! You can display some personalized content, some YouTube videos, and digital memos.
  • Consider displaying your YouTube homepage with tailored ads so you’ll have personalized videos at the ready and the display that you want.

Our Recommendation: Take your time here to really review all the different apps and functionalities available to you. Because there’s a lot and now is the best time to familiarize yourself with them!

Step 11: Organize Your Wires

  • In putting the final touches, keep your cords organized. Use zip ties or Velcro straps to tidy up the wires.
  • You can also make a round indention or notch at the bottom of the back frame where the cords may pass through.
  • Consider drilling small holes on the sides of the box to improve the ventilation, especially if you’re planning to use the DIY smart mirror for video-watching which can generate quite a bit of heat.
  • Lastly, you may install a heavy-duty frame hook if you’re planning to hang the smart mirror directly on the wall.
  • Now, you’re all set!
How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror - image 8
How to Build Your Own Smart Mirror - image 9

Explore the Magic Mirror Software Modules

The Magic Mirror software is a platform designed to make smart mirror usage easy and convenient.

After downloading your operating system, you may proceed with manually installing the software by following a set of command prompts.

Once done, you may start managing your privacy settings and enhancing the quality of your screen display.

Get the information you need through modules displaying weather forecasts, news updates, and even exchange rates.

You can customize alerts, check your e-mails, and manage your schedule all from your smart screen.

Stream videos, watch YouTube videos, and have a super fun experience!

Our Recommendation: If you’re used to using voice commands, integrate Google assistant into your smart mirror too.

Conclusion

Incorporating a DIY smart mirror into your home is a great idea.

It adds to your home’s aesthetics while being functional, too.

Best of all, you can personalize it to your liking and adjust the functionality to make them work depending on your settings. From the frame color to the screen widgets, you’ll definitely build a functional piece that suits your taste.

Bottom Line: Putting together a magic mirror isn’t as difficult as you think! It doesn’t require too many parts or expensive power tools either. With the right materials and a thoroughly followed step-by-step guide in building one, you can enhance the details and the quality of your DIY smart mirror!

Jack Kelle

Jack is an entrepreneur, outdoorist, and animal lover with a background in philosophy, psychology, and business. He enjoys music, friends, and family. At RAVE, Jack works as the manager of marketing and content development.