DIY Tutorial: How to Antique a Mirror in Three Steps

Mirrors enhance light along with appearing to enlarge or enhance spaces, which is why they are essential when it comes to home d├ęcor. With their tarnished and dark speckles, the antique mirrors have a unique character and is an effect that occurs when the tin coating, mercury, or reflective silver oxidizes over time.

Buying one of these authentic heirlooms can cost a lot of money. You can manifest a beautiful home and also money if you read the tips at But with a bit of effort and time, it is easy to create your own antique mirror at a much more affordable cost.

Things You Will Need

  • An unframed or framed mirror
  • Old newspapers/ butcher paper/paper bags or a thick plastic sheet
  • Safety goggles
  • Respirator
  • Disposable gloves
  • Paint stripper (gel or aerosol)
  • Scraper or a putty knife
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic funnel
  • Empty spray bottle
  • Bleach or muriatic acid
  • Antique gold, gray, or black spray paint

The process to antique a mirror will involve removing one or two coats from the back of your mirror. At the back of a mirror is two coats which include the reflective coating that is directly applied to the actual glass, and then a paint layer which is usually black or gray, that goes over the reflective-coating. To antique a mirror, the paint layer is removed, followed by “distressing” the reflective-layer which makes it look aged. The last step involves applying a layer of paint over the distressed layer.

Step One: Strip The Paint Layer

Use your protective gloves when working with paint stripper and avoid getting this product on your clothes or other surfaces.

1. Cover the area that you plan to work on in a plastic sheet or newspapers. If you are working with a framed mirror, take it out of the frame. The mirror should be facing back-side up.

2. Apply or spray a generous layer of paint stripper over the mirror. Allow the product to sit for around 15 minutes to loosen the paint layer.

3. Use a putty knife or scraper to remove all the paint, making sure you do not scrape off the reflective coating.

4. Use damp paper towels or mineral spirits to clean the surface you have just worked on.

Step Two: Distress The Reflective Coating

A mirror that has naturally aged will start showing up spots across the glass. This is where the reflective coating has started to wear away. The goal involves simulating this effect. Take care as to not remove too much of this surface otherwise you will ruin your mirror.

1. Use a funnel to fill up your spray bottle with either bleach or muriatic acid.

2. Spray several areas lightly across the back of your mirror. The chemical will erode the coating wherever it lands.

3. Muriatic acid will work within minutes, while bleach may take up to 48 hours.

4. Once you start to see through the spots across the glass, wipe away the bleach or muriatic acid using dry paper towels.

5. Rinse your mirror under running water and make sure you dry it properly.

Step Three: Repaint The Mirror

Once your mirror is completely clean and dry, spray the back of your mirror with your chosen spray paint. It is important to apply a layer of paint to offer a protective layer to your reflective coating. This layer will also start to show through from the spots that were created by the acid or bleach from the front side of your mirror. Black or gray paint will help to create a moody appearance, while antique gold paint will help to achieve a lighter appeal. Let the paint dry for at least 24 hours, and then reassemble your mirror back into its original frame.

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