How To Make An Inexpensive Mirror Look Antique

This is a great idea for adding a statement piece to any wall in your home. It's a budget-friendly DIY home decor idea because all you need is an inexpensive mirror like the one I purchased at Walmart for $10. The results are stunning and that ordinary mirror will look like you paid a lot of money for it when you're done. I'm going to show you the steps for how to make an inexpensive mirror look antique. This antiqued mirror would look stunning in an entry or above a fireplace, dining sideboard, or a bed.

How To Make Your Own Antique Mirror

How To Make An Ordinary Mirror Look Antique


This is a two-part mirror makeover, with part two being totally optional. Here in Part One, I'm showing you the steps to antique the mirror glass. In Part Two I share How To Add Wow Factor To A Cheap Mirror Frame with Modern Farmhouse style. If the frame on your mirror is narrow and a little skimpy like mine, you'll want to check out part two.

But for the tutorial here in step one, you'll be surprised how easy it is to get a mercury glass patina on an ordinary mirror. The options for what color and patterns you choose to peek from underneath are endless. I used a green vintage style damask scrapbook paper.

Antique Mirror DIY

You can embellish the mirror even more with decorative cornices and typography with your favorite quote, words of inspiration, or graphic.

Make Your Own Antique Mirror

They can be added in one of two ways, transfer them onto the glass and hand paint them (I share the steps further down in the post) OR you can cut vinyl letters with a Cricut or Silhouette machine.

Antique Mirror Effect

We hung our mirror in the dining room, hence the typography I used, above our Board and Batten Wall.

Easy DIY Antique Mirror Tutorial

I found the hammered tin platters at our local HomeSense store (the Canadian equivalent of HomeGoods). We get a lot of compliments about the mirror and guests are always surprised when I say it's the same Walmart mirror used on the DIY Wall Mount Jewelry Cabinet in the bedroom.

Antique Mirror Effect

The antique Radio Cabinet pictured above has been in my family for generations and it also got a refresh since these photos were taken.

I had so much fun aging this mirror that I tried it again on a much smaller mirror. You can see it here in my DIY Aged Mirror For Fall Decorating post.

How To Antique A Mirror Tutorial

So here's how we did it.

DIY Antiqued Mirror

I must apologize for the poor quality image below, it was taken in the basement at night using an older iPhone but this is the inexpensive mirror we used for the dining room antique mirror. It had been painted with white latex paint and aged with gold Rub n Buff along the edges.

Walmart Mirror Hack

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.

Step 1 - Remove the backing paper from the mirror

Remove the backing paper from the mirror. If there is cardboard backing behind the mirror keep it because we're going to need it later.

IMPORTANT

Before we begin the following steps, its important that you do it outdoors or in a well-ventilated area and be sure to wear chemical safe rubber gloves, eye protection, and a chemical respirator mask.

Step 2 - Remove the grey painted protective backing

First, we need to remove the grey painted protective backing from the back of the mirror. Generously apply paint remover all over the back of the mirror with a chip brush and let it sit for a few minutes. Scrap the lifted paint with a plastic scraper, a metal scraper may scratch the mirror.

Clean the back of the mirror with a wet cloth. Some of the backing paint will remain but that's okay, it adds to the aged patina.

DIY Distressed Mirror

Step 3 - Remove some of the silver reflective mirror backing

On some mirrors, the silver reflective backing can be removed with household bleach in a spray bottle. I would suggest you try this method first. If that doesn't remove it, like it didn't mine, then you'll need to use Muriatic Acid.

IMPORTANT

If using muriatic acid, this step MUST be done outdoors because it has a VERY toxic chemical odor. You MUST wear chemical safe rubber gloves, eye protection, and a chemical respirator mask. Some home improvement stores carry muriatic acid but not all of them. If you are a fellow Canadian, I purchased mine at Home Hardware.

DIY Mirror

Whether using bleach or muriatic acid, carefully pour it into a spray bottle.

Lightly spray the acid onto the backside of the mirror, only in the spots you want to remove the silver reflective backing. Sprinkle a little along the edges, a few areas in the middle, and let some of it sprinkle in droplets.

This stuff works very fast so only keep it on for about a minute (unlike what I did). With a wet cloth or paper towel gently dab to remove the muriatic acid or bleach.

What to do if you removed too much of the silver reflective backing

If you were overzealous like me, you can bring back some of the reflective mirror backing by spraying the back of the glass with approximately four coats of Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint.

Step 4 - Aging the mirror with a mercury glass patina

To give the mirror a mercury glass patina, spray gold metallic paint in some of the exposed glass areas. Lightly dab the wet paint with a lightly dampened seafoam sponge or scrunched lint-free rag.

To give the mirror those desilvering black spots that naturally happen to old mirrors over time, we're going to use graphite (charcoal gray) paint. Dip an old toothbrush into the paint and flick the bristles over the mirror. No worries if you get too many in some areas, use a damp rag to carefully lift them off.

Now that the mirror has been antiqued it's time to add some pretty!

Step 5 - Add pretty paper behind the antiqued mirror

Now it's time to add some pretty paper behind the antique mirror to peek through the areas where the silver reflective backing was removed.

Glue or tape pretty scrapbook paper onto the original cardboard backing that you removed earlier from behind the mirror. If your mirror didn't have cardboard backing then simply set the paper down over the backside of the mirror and tape it to the glass somewhere along the edges where it won't be seen.

My floor-length mirror took four sheets of scrapbook paper to cover the entire back of the mirror. You can use a solid color paper or something with a subtle vintage design like the faded damask pattern I used.

Step 6 - Paint the frame

Now that the mirror has been antiqued we're ready to refinish the wooden frame. I painted mine with layers of paint followed by distressing for a shabby chic finish. First I painted it with graphite (charcoal gray) chalk paint. After it was dry I brushed one coat of old white chalk paint.

There are two ways you can distress the painted mirror. You can wet distress it which means before the top coat of paint dries rub your finger along the edges with a damp rag and light pressure. Or you can wait until the paint is dry and use 220 grit sandpaper to distress along the edges to reveal the graphite paint underneath. Don't press too firmly or you risk sanding through to the original wood.

At this point, you can protect the paint finish with either clear wax or a non-yellowing clear topcoat. I chose not to apply a protective finish because it won't receive wear and tear hanging on a wall.

Once the paint is completely dry, set the antiqued mirror back into the frame. You can finish the back with brown paper or if your mirror came with hardboard backing, nail it back in place.

Carefully clean the front of the mirror with a damp cloth and we're ready to move onto adding the typography and decorative cornices.

Step 7 - Adding typography onto the antiqued mirror

As I mentioned earlier, you can add the typography onto the front of the mirror in two ways. If you have a Cricut or Silhouette machine, you can cut permanent vinyl. If not, you can hand paint it onto the front of the glass using this image transfer technique.

Create your graphic in your favorite graphic software, I used PicMonkey and resize it in Block Poster. I've included a free download that you are welcome to use. Just click on the graphic below for a free PDF download.


Voila, a gorgeous faux antique mirror made with an inexpensive Walmart or thrift store mirror and something you can be proud to have hanging in your home. I hope you found this tutorial helpful and that it has inspired you to transform an old mirror.

Remember to go check out Part Two where we reframed the mirror with plank Farmhouse style (link at the top of the post).

If you have any questions about this DIY antiqued mirror tutorial, please leave them in the comment section below or the Contact Me tab at the top. I love hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this DIY Antiqued Mirror, I'd be so thankful if you shared it with a friend and pinned it to your Decorative Mirrors or DIY Antiquing Method Tutorials board on Pinterest.


DIY Mercury Glass Antique Mirror Tutorial

I share my projects at these inspiring link parties.


18 comments

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Anita! It was a fun project to work on, despite the harsh chemical smells. I'm currently working on a new DIY frame for the mirror. Coming soon!

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  2. This mirror is absolutely gorgeous! Although there's a lot of steps, you broke them down so simply that it's not intimidating. What a beautiful addition to your wall!

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    1. Thank you so much, Pam! This is phase one of the antiqued mirror project. Phase two is coming soon and I can't wait to share it. So glad my tutorial made all those steps not feel intimidating. It was a fun project watching the magic happen.

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  3. I adore this. The paper backing takes it for the win. I've made some fun , faux mercury glass but this is so pretty. Please be sure and post at Funtastic Friday

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    1. Thanks so much, I'm glad you like it! Phase two of this project coming next week where we beefed up that simple wood frame. See you Friday!

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  4. Wowza, that turned out great! I love the wording as well. Beautiful job! Pinned

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    1. Thanks a bunch, Cindy! Next week I'll be sharing how we beefed up the wooden frame for added impact and how I redid the wording with my Cricut Maker.

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  5. Replies
    1. Thanks Kristin, so glad you like this idea. I just finished part two of this project and I'm thrilled with the results. Coming soon!

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  6. I love how authentic your mirror looks. Look for your feature on Wednesday's Charming Homes & garden link party.
    Rachel

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    1. Thank you so much, Rachel, for the feature! xo Part Two of my antique mirror project is coming soon and I'm tickled pink with the results. See you Wednesday 😀

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  7. I just love how this looks Marie! Pinned! Thank you for sharing with Charming Homes and Gardens! And congratulations on your feature this week!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kim! I wasn't 100% happy with the frame so I added some Wow factor this week and I can't wait to share the new look.

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  8. No one but Marie comes up with these fantastic processes. I love how this turned out Marie. Beautiful as always.

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    1. Thank you so much, Leanna! This is part one of my mirror makeover. In part two I added the wow factor to the frame and I'm thrilled with the results.

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I always enjoy hearing from you so please don't be shy! I read and reply to every single comment.