DIY Gilded Mirror

This post walks you through all the steps for a DIY gilded mirror. Take an old mirror and transform it with gold paint!

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For whatever reason, when you apply gold paint or gold leaf to objects, they are elevated to a level that conveys they are special and expensive. Gilding antique objects is one of my favorite DIYs because it is easy and results in such a pleasing transformation.

I recently came upon a beautiful vintage mirror but its original gold finish had long since faded. In fact, it looked more of a rusty brown color than gold. Nonetheless, the mirror was in great shape and the frame was in good condition. So, I thought I would give it an upgrade by gilding the existing frame.

Original Mirror with faded gold frame

You can see from the image above that the frame had more of a brown finish. I loved the shape and generous size of the mirror so I was determined to give it new life.

I will walk you through the steps for transforming it.

DIY Gilded Mirror


Most of these supplies are available at your local craft store or big box store. However, I have linked online sources where available.

Clean the Frame

If you have an old mirror, as I did, then you will want to spend sometime cleaning it thoroughly. I used a small bucket of hot water, some dawn dish detergent and a small scrub brush to ensure the frame was rid of dust, grime and debris. I was surprised how quickly the water in the bucket turned black when I was washing the frame. If needed, use a Q tip to clean the small nooks and corners.

Before moving on to the next step, I let the mirror and frame dry completely.

Apply Gold Leaf

Ensure you are using an oil based gold leafing paint. This is critically important because oil based paints impart a much better gold color. Acrylic or other water based metallic paints simply don’t have the same luster and shine.

Here is a TIP: you can use goo gone to clean the oil based paint from your craft paint brushes.

Painting the mirror frame

Optional -Tape Off the Glass

Depending upon the mirror and how careful of a painter you are – You may want to protect the areas between the glass and the frame with painters tape. This will help protect the glass from any accidental paint drips or brushstrokes. I felt confident enough in my ability to paint the frame without getting any paint on the glass, so I opted to not use tape.

Apply Rub n Buff

Applying Rub n Buff to the frame

The secret to any gilding project is to have multiple layers of gold paint. So after the liquid leaf paint dried, I brushed on some Rub n Buff on the decorative leaf and scroll work on the mirror frame. The variation in gold color gives the frame more dimension. Rub n Buff is also an oil based paste with a lovely metallic finish. It’s also worth noting, a little bit of Rub N Buff goes a looong way. I used -maybe- a quarter of the contents of the tiny tube shown above.

As with the liquid leaf, you can remove Rub n Buff from your paint brushes using some Goo Gone.

Apply Antiquing Wax

Apply Antiquing Wax

The final step is to apply some antiquing wax over the gold paint. Rub in the wax and wipe off any excess using a terry cloth rag. I like to work in small sections at one time to ensure the wax doesn’t dry too quickly. I used MMS milk paint antiquing wax, however, there are many types of antiquing wax you can use.

The End Result

All in all, I was happy with how this project turned out. I hope you give it a try too! With a little bit of time, elbow grease and craft products you can give an old mirror new life.

Here are some photos of the end result. Feel free to pin them if you want to remember this project in the future.


Do you have experience gilding anything? I have heard some people even apply it to drinking glasses, which of course, have to be hand washed only.

DIY Gilded Mirror

Photographing mirrors is ridiculously difficult. I had to hang a sheet from the ceiling when photographing this mirror, otherwise you would see a giant black tv above our mantel. Not pretty.

DIY Gilded Mirror

Here are two more photos that are little closer so you can see the details.

DIY Gilded Mirror
DIY Gilded Mirror

This was a perfect project to work on during a fairly rainy weekend. In the northeast, we have been getting buckets of rain! My next project might be a DIY ark. . .

In Closing . . .

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I hope you found some inspiration. If you like these types of posts that I share with you, please subscribe to my mailing list. You can also follow me on InstagramFacebook or Pinterest for more inspiration.

If you liked this post you might also enjoy:

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DIY Small Table Makeover

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  1. Love this so much, Anna! I have a vintage frame that needs some attention and this is just the kind of attention it needs. Great tip about cleaning small brushes with goo gone! I had not idea! Pinned 🙂

  2. Anna, you found a treasure, that mirror is beautiful! Great job transforming it! Thanks for the tips about the differences in metallic paint, and that you can use Goo Gone to clean brushes! Pinning now!

  3. Anna,
    OMG! This brought back memories…I used Rub and Buff about 30+ years ago on a few frames…Glad to hear that they are still making it!! Your mirror looks stunning…Gold has never gone out of style in my home and I am thrilled to see it making a come back!! Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and to leave such a sweet comment!! Stay cool in this heat!!

  4. This looks amazing, Anna! I would have totally just Rub n Buffed right over the old finish. Thanks so much for sharing your trick about the oil-based gold leafing paint. Adding multiple layers of gold paint definitely created a much richer finish. It’s just gorgeous! Hugs, CoCo PS: Love your chandelier!

  5. Your mirror is beautiful Anna! I’ve used rub-n-buff many times, but I have never added antique wax over it before. I think I will give this a try on my next project.

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