They say that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, but I wonder if that holds true when items you would typically find in those spaces are used outside! Why not repurpose your bathroom fixtures in the garden?
We had a blank section of fencing at the entry to our backyard that needed a little somethin’ somethin’. Last August when we stumbled upon a garage sale, I decided that the somethin’ was going to be a bathroom light fixture!
As I made inquiries about purchasing the fixture, hubs thought I had lost it and went to pout in the car before I could explain my vision. He must’ve thought I wanted to install it in our bathroom but nothing could be further from the truth in the far corners of my creative mind!
The light fixture went into my ‘someday’ stash and was almost completely forgotten until a few weeks ago when hubs came home with a curbside find that would complete my vision perfectly!
You Will Need:
- Metal mirror frame and bathroom fixture (be on the lookout for curbside finds and garage sales)
- GE Silicone II
- DAP Alex Plus
- JB WaterWeld
- Utility Knife
- Caulk Gun
- Disposable gloves
- Paper towels and water for cleanup
Although the mirror glass and frame had separated, both pieces were there; it could easily be remedied with a little adhesive if we wanted to reinstall the mirror! For the time being, I set the mirror aside; I planned to repaint the frame and it was going to be so much easier without the mirror in it.
I removed the glass shades from the light fixture and set them aside too for an as-yet-to-be-determind future purpose.
I removed the two knobs on the front so I could lift off the back plate and access the wiring.
I used a wire cutter to snip and remove all the wires.
I set the knobs aside in a plastic resealable bag so they wouldn’t get lost.
Now onto the paint! As I was flipping through the Benjamin Moore paint deck, Basil Green caught my eye:
My paint of choice for this project was Break-Through because of its bonding ability and durability (you can read about the benefits here). Since I only needed a small amount, I didn’t want to go to the expense of buying a whole gallon (it doesn’t come in quarts!). I did however, have dark green and yellow that I knew I could combine to achieve a similar colour. I mixed different proportions of the two colours until I achieved an almost exact match!
With the paint figured out, hubs spray painted both pieces of metal. But before he did, he applied green painters tape around the inside of the frame. We didn’t want any overspray there so the adhesive would stick better when it came time to replace the mirror.
Once dry, I removed the green tape to prepare for adhering the mirror.
I also reattached the backplate on the light fixture – twice. On my first try, I accidentally put it back together upside down. Luckily hubs noticed my mistake right away. The narrow end of the key slot should point upward!
At this point, we temporarily installed both metal pieces on the fence while the mirror was still separate from the frame. We took advantage of the fact that the frame weighs next to nothing without the glass in it. It was way easier (for hubs) to move the frame around while I figured out exactly where it should be positioned on the fence.
Hubs did all the measuring, marking and predrilling. All I had to do was stand back and nod my head in approval.
We weren’t really sure about the best way to hang each piece; we chose the vinyl covered hooks and stainless steel screws from the pile below.
The hooks were used to hang the mirror. Since the light fixture had that backplate with the keyhole slots, two stainless steel screws were used to hold the light fixture; it just slipped right over the screws. Easy peasy when the backplate is screwed on right!
What Adhesive to Use?
I wondered what the best adhesive would be for outdoor use, so asked around the blogosphere. One blogger suggested E6000 and I was going to use it, but as I researched I discovered that a few glass artists experienced glass breakage down the road. I’m not sure why, but one thing to consider about E6000 is that it shrinks as it dries. Perhaps it’s enough to stress the glass and cause a crack – who knows? I decided that caulk might be best because it has some give.
In choosing an adhesive, I had several requirements: it had to be flexible at below freezing temperatures, weather-proof to stand up to rain and extremes in temperature, and wouldn’t eat away at the mirror backing if it came into contact with it.
On further research, I settled on not one but two adhesives. The first was GE Silicone II to hold the mirror to the back of the frame and seal in the plastic backing. GE Silicone II is what’s called a neutral cure silicone, meaning that it’s non-acidic (so shouldn’t harm the mirror backing) and is superior for outdoor applications. The only drawback of GE Silicone II is that it’s almost impossible for novices to smooth it out nicely. That’s why I chose a different caulk to to keep the moisture out on the front of the mirror.
Although the main task of the second caulk was to seal the gap between the metal and glass on the front of the mirror, it also had to look flawless. I chose DAP Alex Plus. It’s an acrylic latex caulk that can easily be smoothed with a finger dipped in water for a neater seal around the front. We purchased a clear formulation; it’s goes on white but becomes clear as it cures in 7 – 14 days.
Install the Mirror
Clean the glass well so there’s no dirt to resist the caulk.
Scrape away any old caulk that still happens to be on the mirror.
Starting with the GE Silicone II, cut off the tip of the tube of caulk on a 45 degree angle with a utility knife.
Use a stiff wire that’s long enough to pierce through the seal; our caulk gun happened to have a piercing tool on it, so we used that.
Load the tube into the caulk gun, depress it over a paper towel first to make sure you pierced the seal and the caulk is flowing. We actually didn’t pierce the tube on our first try and when I forced the caulk gun, the caulk exploded out the back end with and oozed all over the gun. Oops! We were too busy cleaning to get pictures but lesson learned: if the caulk doesn’t flow easily, don’t force it – take the tube out of the gun and try piercing it again.
Put on disposable gloves. Start in one corner and run a bead around the perimeter of the mirror.
Smooth it with a gloved finger. It didn’t matter if I was messy with this step because we cut a piece of plastic backing to go over top. We let it set up only a few minutes so we could still press the backing into the silicone.
We added a corrugated plastic backing (the same type of plastic that’s used as signage) to prevent the back of the mirror from being scratched from plant materials growing around it.
Set the plastic backing into place.
Apply another bead of caulking around the plastic backing.
Smooth it out again with a gloved finger (wiping on a paper towel as you go), ensuring that the caulk is in contact with both the metal and plastic backing to seal it.
Let it dry for a day, then flip it over. I put painters tape along the metal and also around the mirror, leaving a slight gap so the caulk could make contact with the mirror but be both neat and discreet.
I switched over to the Alex Plus, cutting the tip at a 45 degree angle and again piercing through tip to puncture the seal.
As I mentioned earlier, since Alex Plus is latex, the bead can be smoothed with a finger dipped in water (no need to wear gloves this time). Use paper towels to wipe excess caulk off your finger as you smooth and re-dip in water as necessary.
Here’s a closeup of the gaps we’ll be filling:
Run a bead of caulk around the perimeter. At this point, it will look messy. As you smooth the caulk, you want to push it towards the metal in such a way that the gap is filled between the metal and the mirror.
Ensure all the gaps are filled (if not, got over it again and smooth before you lift the tape).
Let it sit for at least another 24 hours before hanging outside.
Although the GE Silicone II is rain ready after 30 minutes, Alex Plus takes 7 – 14 days to cure. For the first two weeks, if heavy rain is forecast, I plan to take both pieces down temporarily and store them in the garage so the Alex Plus has a chance to fully cure without being inundated with water. I don’t know if that’s really necessary, but I don’t want to take any chances.
Finishing the Light Fixture
Getting back to the light fixture, we forgot to spray paint those two little knobs that hold the backer plate bracket onto the fixture. I popped them onto a pair of needle nosed pliers and quickly painted them with a little brush.
I gave the knobs a few coats and set them aside to dry.
I found these planters at a succulent sale in the Spring.
I didn’t know it at the time, but they were the right shape to replace the glass light shades. They were special for more than just the shape though: if you look underneath, you’ll see that the drainage holes are NOT in the centre – they’re around the perimeter of the edge. That was a stroke of luck because I didn’t want water dripping into the sockets; I wanted the water to flow away from the metal if possible. These were perfect!
What wasn’t so perfect was that I had bought one size too small. The vendor selling these containers wasn’t going to be back in the city anytime soon, but she had a farm an hour north of the city, so we trekked out there just to buy a bigger size. I didn’t even know if they would fit or if they even still had them, but we took a chance. When we got there, the vendor’s husband told us they had run out but his wife Ellen looked around and managed to find a few for me. Not only did I get my containers, but I even got a price break for my trouble – thanks Ellen!!
I was originally going to plant succulents in the containers, but I loved the colour of these purple wave petunias and thought they’d look beautiful spilling over the mirror once they got established.
We used a moisture control potting mix.
The soil you use is important because wave petunias need a lot of water and potting mix is specially formulated for that. The containers we’re using are small, so they’ll likely need watering every day. I don’t mind doing that, but I’m sure I’ll forget to water every once in a while. Moisture control potting soil should hopefully help tide them over!
We cut some mesh for the bottom of each container.
The mesh will keep the soil from running through the holes in the bottom with constant watering.
After the knobs were dried I came back to reassemble the fixture with the backplate.
The knobs get screwed onto the front.
There was one more thing I wanted to do with the light fixture before I could call it done. I knew I’d find a use for these empty film canisters one day!
I removed the caps.
I kneaded each piece and rolled it into a rope….
… which got wrapped around the film canisters that were placed upside down over each socket.
When the epoxy was dry, I taped the canister and metal below it, then added a final layer of clear caulk (I used the Alex Plus once again so I could smooth it out).
The JB WaterWeld and caulk are impervious to water, so will seal each socket from filling up with rain – or when we water the plant.
The two repurposed pieces were finally ready to make their debut in our garden. The light fixture was mounted right above the mirror and the wave petunias were placed into each light sconce. As you see below, the film canisters mimic the look of candle sticks.
Look how beautifully the mirror reflects the rest of the garden – and our newly blossomed day lilies!
Hubs didn’t initially understand my vision for using indoor bathroom fixtures in an outdoor space, buy he sure gets it now! He loves our newest garden vignette as much as I do 🙂
The day lilies and wave petunias are a nice complement to the colour of the paint I custom mixed.
We’ll see how the wave petunias do over the summer. If they don’t survive in the small containers, we’ll switch them out with succulents – which are low maintenance.
Here’s a reminder of the before…..
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Have we inspired you to repurpose your bathroom fixtures in the garden?
Don’t forget to pin for later.
I’ll leave you with a few more inspirational pictures of our garden.
You can find links to some of these below (or browse our garden category):
- Build a zen water feature
- Add curb appeal with a front pond
- Reshape a pom pom topiary
- Build a rock garden
- Build a dry creek bed
- Train clematis on a trellis
- Landscape a backyard into an oasis
- Build trellises and privacy screens; and
- Creative planter ideas for the garden
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