Whether it has a simple or an ornate frame, a mirror is possibly one of the most versatile and effective home decor items. Not only is it functional (who doesn't need a quick check in the mirror before running out the door?), but its presence can give the illusion of depth and space even in a small room. What's more, you can paint the mirror's frame any color to create a whole new decorative element in your home.
The quickest and easiest way to paint a frame is with spray paint--a method so easy you'll be surprised by its smooth, even, and professional-looking finish. Even an old, intricate, or detailed frame can look brand new with a fresh coat of paint. The process is straightforward:
- Cut out a newspaper in the shape of the mirror to cover and protect it from the paint.
- Dust and clean the mirror's frame, so it is free of any particles.
- Lightly sand the material's surface.
- Apply primer
- Paint the mirror frame.
- Apply a sealant to protect and create whatever kind of finish you'd like.
It really is that simple. Keep reading for step-by-step directions to spray paint your mirror frame and even more information about other popular painting techniques.
How to Paint a Mirror Frame
All types of frames--wood, plastic, metal, even tiled or laminated material--can be painted to upgrade a mirror's look. With the right tools, and especially the right kind of paint, you can quickly transform your mirror into an original work of art.
Here are some common questions you may have before we start this great DIY project.
Can I Spray Paint a Mirror Frame?
Yes, you can! In fact, unless you are using a special method to achieve an alternate finish, spray painting your frame is the easiest way to go. It's especially nice because the paint dries smoothly and evenly, without even having to worry about visible brush strokes. What's more, these days, spray paints come in a wide spectrum of colors and offer creative options, like metallic, chalk paint, and even glitter.
What About Priming and Sealing?
Priming the surface of any material is recommended and will help your final paint color adhere to the mirror's frame better. There is an exception for plastic frames. However, if you use spray paint intended specifically for plastic, as many are, you won't need to prime your frame. Luckily, primer comes in a spray-can form, too, making it easy to prep a wood, ceramic, or metal frame. You can even find a primer for the trickier laminate surface.
Because a mirror frame is unlikely to be touched and handled frequently, using a sealer is unnecessary. But if you'd like double protection from scratches and chips and would like a specific finish--glossy, semigloss, or matte--you can also find clear sealant in a spray-can format.
How Do You Protect a Mirror While Painting the Frame?
As you'll see below, several layers of newspaper and painter's tape, used correctly, are all you really need to protect your mirror. Refer to step 3 for more details on this.
Materials and Tools Needed to Paint a Mirror Frame
- a damp cloth, microfiber rag, or a soft-bristle toothbrush
- fine-grit sandpaper
- drop cloth/cardboard
- painter's tape
- Exacto knife
- paint, primer, and, if necessary, sealer
With a damp cloth or microfiber rag, wipe the frame to remove any dust or residue. If it's an ornate frame with grooves and carved details, use a soft-bristle toothbrush to get into those nooks and crannies. Don't use any commercial cleaners or furniture polish because it will interact with the paint and affect the finish. Let the frame dry completely.
Using fine-grit sandpaper, lightly rough up the frame's surface; this will help the paint adhere better. Wipe down the frame again, ensuring it's completely free of dust, and allow it to dry fully.
Cut out newspaper to fit and cover the mirror's shape, ensuring at least a 1/2 inch gap between the newspaper's edge and the frame. Use the painter's tape to carefully secure the newspaper over the mirror, covering that 1/2 inch gap, so the tape's edge is precisely perpendicular to the frame's inner edge. Use an Exacto knife or razor to trim any tape, even tiny pieces that may be touching the frame.
Prime the surface. (For plastic frames, you may skip ahead to step 6.) Lay the mirror on a drop cloth or newspaper on the floor or a flat surface in a well-ventilated area. Shake the can well, as directed, and begin with 1-2 layers of primer, lightly spraying the paint in a steady, back-and-forth motion. Refer to the product's directions to determine the dry time between coats.
After the primer has completely dried, lightly sand, and wipe the surface as directed in step 2.
Paint the frame. In a similar fashion to spraying the primer, lightly move the paint spray back and forth over the frame. Spray from various angles to make sure the frame's inner and outer edges are evenly covered. To avoid any drips or pooling, apply in thin coats and allow to dry as directed on the canister. It is recommended to apply 2 coats of spray paint.
(optional) Apply sealant in the same way as in the previous steps. Always read the manufactures' directions to ensure a proper and professional look.
Once the paint is semidry, carefully peel away the painter's tape, using the Exact0 knife or razor to ensure there is no residue on the mirror. If you wait until the paint is completely dry, it's possible to remove the tape; some dry paint will peel off the frame's inner edge.
Remove the newspaper from the mirror, clean it with a glass cleaner, place your newly-painted mirror wherever it belongs, and admire how such a simple painting method can transform the look of your room.
How Do You Distress a Mirror Frame for a Shabby Chic Look?
The shabby chic look is a popular way to combine softer shades of paint colors to various furniture pieces while also giving it a slightly distressed appearance. It is an ideal technique for frames and is just as easy as painting anything else.
To achieve the muted color pallet, use "chalk paint," which is available in traditional paint can or as spray paint from various online and home repair stores. However, the key is to choose two different colors, one as the initial layer and the second color as the main, final color. Then, to get the aged, distressed look, lightly sand the frame's edges intermittently and any other arbitrary areas where general wear and tear would appear. When you do this, the top layer of paint will fade out, and the color underneath will be revealed.
Another option for creating the shabby chic look is to apply a wax material (or some people use just petroleum jelly) after the first coat of paint, then apply the second coat. With a dry rag, wipe the surface in seemingly random spots. This will create the milky, glaze-type finish so common for a vintage look.
How Do You Age a Freshly Painted Mirror Frame?
To transition a newly-painted mirror frame to the antiqued-style is easy with the right materials. When the frame has completely dried in its final color, use a rag dipped in an oil-based stain (you can select the stain color of your choice) and wipe it over the frame and its edges, letting the stain sit in the grooves of any carved designs or raised surfaces. The stain will provide the darkened, aged finish when dry, no matter how old the frame is.
Another way to create the same aged look is with brown acrylic paint. When your new paint has dried on your mirror frame, use a small watercolor brush, dip it lightly in the brown paint, wipe the brush on a paper towel until it is almost dry. Then run the brush over the frame, and it will "catch" on tiny bumps or lines. Continue this method, dipping into the brown paint and wiping it on a paper towel until the frame appears as aged as you would like.
As you can see, there are endless options available to paint any mirror frame. Your most difficult choice might just be choosing what new color to try or what kind of finish you want. Either way, your mirror will always be a true reflection of the home you have created.
For more great ideas for mirrors, check out these posts!