Hand Painted Mirror Frame

| |

I have had this Victorian mirror sitting in my basement for an unreasonably long time. It was one of those projects that I just couldn’t figure out how to finish it. Fortunately, this weekend provided an opportunity for me to spend some time working on it and now I can share with you how I hand painted the mirror frame. It’s a 4 step process and I will walk you through each step.

Before we get started, just a few notes. First, this was really an easy and fun project. It yielded big results without a lot of time or effort.


Here are some basic supplies you will need for this project:

  • Paint of your choice. I used milk paint.
  • Paper you can cut or tear to size to protect the existing mirror
  • Painters tape – I used Frog Tape.
  • Sand paper – I used 150 grit and 220 grit
  • A microfiber rag and cleaner that acts as a degreaser. (Ex: 409, Mr. Clean, Krud Kutter)
  • Clear wax – I used this to seal the newly applied paint.
  • Hair dryer – optional if you want your paint to dry quickly
  • Old blanket or drop cloth to protect the surface you are painting on

Mirror “Before”

Mirror laying on table face up

I loved that this mirror was arched and that it was structurally sound. The back is covered with a beaded board which is a nice touch and a sign of quality. I thought this mirror would look great in the shop layered with other mirrors that are smaller and in different sizes. Especially, since this mirror is large – it’s at least 3 feet tall. However, its current paint job needed some help.

It’s ridiculously difficult to photograph a mirror. All sorts of odd things show up in the reflection.

Step 1: Prep the piece

Given that the mirror was in good structural condition, the fastest and easiest thing to do to give this a new look was to paint the frame. First, I laid the mirror flat on my dining room table with an old blanket underneath.

Then I proceeded to tape off the mirror to protect it from any paint runs, spills or drips. I used small sheets of paper since they slid easily between the frame and the mirror glass. This allowed me to protect the glass that was under the wooden frame.

Paper inserted around edges of the frame to protect the mirror
Inserting paper around the edges of the mirror frame

Then, I got out some sand paper and spent about an hour sanding the entire frame. I did not remove all the paint but I gave it a good scuff sanding and ensured there were no loose or flaking pieces of paint. Once I was finished sanding, I wiped it down thoroughly to ensure no dirt or dust remained. Then I wiped it down once more using a micro fiber cloth and Mr. Clean.

Step 2: Let’s Paint!

This mirror is going into my booth and I wanted it to retain a neutral appearance. I primarily want to use this hand painted mirror for display since it is such a generous size and has a beautiful arch at the top of the frame. With this in mind, I decided to paint it using MMS Milk Paint in the color Linen – which is like a soft white with warm cream undertones.

First coat of white paint on mirror frame
As you can see from the photo above, this is the first coat of paint that was applied to the mirror frame. It took 2 full coats of paint and I waited for each coat to dry before proceeding with the next steps. To speed things up, I used a blow dryer after each application of paint.

Step 3: Lightly Distress and Wax

After the second coat was completely dry, I gently went over the frame with some 220 grit sand paper and gently removed any paint that was flaking off. For those of you who are new to my blog, Milk Paint has natural properties that allows it to chip, flake, and craze on surfaces giving them a naturally weathered appearance.

After lightly going over the piece with sand paper, I wiped down the frame to remove any remaining dust or fragments of paint. As noted above, because this is an antique mirror, I wanted the paint to look naturally aged. I didn’t mind if there was the occasional flaking of paint. To my eye, this looks more natural and in keeping with the age of the piece than having a uniform finish.

Once I was done with distressing the frame, I applied a clear wax to seal the painted finish.

Step 4: Enjoy

Since this mirror is enclosed in the back with beaded board, it is super heavy to move. I decided to prop it up on an exiting white dresser in my living room to take some photos. This minimized having to lug the heavy mirror around my home. (And potentially dropping it)

You may have noticed that our Christmas tree is still up. We are still working on putting Christmas back into the box. You will also see my camera in the reflection. Like I said, mirrors are a challenge to photograph. Fortunately, I have a remote shooter which allows me to stand at a distance to active the camera’s shutter.

You may have also noticed the vintage French bottle drying rack. I think I am little in love with that drying rack. It’s made of steel which is obvious when you pick it up. (It’s heavy) You may also notice there are some paper hearts on the drying rack. They are a prototype for a little DIY Valentine’s Day project I am currently working on. Mr. SLH was confused because there were Valentine’s Day hearts and a Christmas tree in the same photo. Right. Welcome to the world of blogging!

White mirror frame on top of a white dresser

If you look closely in the photo above you can see a slight difference in the paint colors. The dresser was painted the color Farmhouse White while the mirror was painted in the color Linen. Linen is a warmer white.

Right side of white painted mirror frame
There was some light flaking of paint and and some places where the underlying paint showed through. I like this affect since it compliments the age of the mirror. Oh and yes, that is my forehead on the right hand side. I told you – photographing mirrors isn’t easy.

Here are some other furniture blog posts you might like to read:

White mirror with arch on top of white dresser

One final photo showing you the final result – I am happy with how the hand painted mirror frame turned out and can’t wait to take it to the shop. If you try this at home – it is an easy and fairly fast project. I completed this hand painted mirror frame in 4 hours. It’s so fun to work on projects that you can complete in 1 day. It’s instant gratification.

You can also see in the photo above, another view of the French bottle drying rack. (Sometimes, it’s so difficult to sell the stuff you love.)

Thank you for stopping by the blog today. I am hoping to have 2 Valentine’s Day tutorials for you next week. So, stop by again if you are interested in learning how to make these cute little hearts shown above on the French bottle drying rack.

Similar Posts


  1. Excellent tip, in regard to using small pieces of paper, between glass and frame, to protect the glass under the frame. I never would have thought of that, and would have wasted time trying to match the paper size to the glass size. Oy.
    This blog is a masterclass is seeing potential and bringing it to life.

    1. Thank you Susan. I feel like I should be compensating you for the endorsement!
      Who needs sponsors when I have readers like you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *