How to Antique a Mirror

Add vintage appeal to a modern mirror by distressing it with products found at the home improvement store.
Antique Mirror

Antique Mirror

Materials Needed:

  • framed mirror
  • muriatic acid (available at most home improvement stores)
  • aerosol paint stripper
  • plastic putty knife
  • paper towels
  • cotton rags
  • spray bottle
  • funnel
  • ventilation mask
  • chemical-resistant gloves
  • protective eyewear
  • antique gold spray paint

Don Safety Gear

Safety first! Put on protective eye wear, a ventilation mask and chemical-resistant gloves; keeping them on for the duration of this project. Also, it's also a good idea to work on this project outdoors, or in an extremely well-ventilated area.

Protect Work Surface

Cover work surface in thick plastic or a thick layer of newspaper to protect it from spillage.

Remove Mirror

Remove cardboard backing from the framed mirror. Carefully slide mirror out of the frame; place it somewhere safe from bumps.

Remove Mirror from Frame

Remove Mirror from Frame

Apply Paint Stripper

Spray a thick layer of aerosol paint stripper onto the back of the mirror. Following manufacturers' directions, leave the stripper on long enough to loosen the layer of paint which protects the silvered finish.

Apply Paint Stripper

Apply Paint Stripper

Remove Paint

Remove the loosened paint with a plastic putty knife, being careful not to damage the mirror itself.

Remove Paint From Back of Mirror

Remove Paint From Back of Mirror

Clean Surface

Gently wipe the surface with a damp cotton rag; follow up with a dry cotton rag to ensure the surface is completely dry.

Clean Mirror Surface

Clean Mirror Surface

Prepare Muriatic Acid

Carefully pour the muriatic acid into a spray bottle using a plastic funnel. Tip: Make sure you're wearing protective gloves and eyewear during this step.

Prepare the Muriatic Acid

Prepare the Muriatic Acid

Apply Muriatic Acid

Lightly spray a very small amount of the muriatic acid randomly onto two or three areas on the back side of the mirror. Tip: To prevent the acid from removing too much of the reflective backing, aim the spray nozzle at the mirror's edges rather than the middle. An old mirror shows more wear around the edges.

Apply Muriatic Acid to Back of Mirror

Apply Muriatic Acid to Back of Mirror

Remove Muriatic Acid

Once the muriatic acid has successfully removed the reflective backing, meaning the glass will be completely see-through in spots where you sprayed acid, carefully blot the entire surface with a dry paper towel or cotton rag to stop the antiquing process. Note: It takes approximately one minute for the acid to work its way through the reflective backing, so this is a very quick step.

Remove Muriatic Acid from Mirror

Remove Muriatic Acid from Mirror

Paint Mirror Back

Coat the entire back of the mirror with a layer of antique gold spray paint. This paint color will show through on the front side of the mirror, and will also protect the reflective coating on the back side from loosening further.

Reassemble Mirror

Slide the mirror and cardboard backing back into frame. Secure the cardboard with glazier's points, brads or if the frame had staples holding the cardboard in place, bend these down again.

Replace Antiqued Mirror in Frame

Replace Antiqued Mirror in Frame

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