Monday, August 22, 2011

DIY Antique Mirror...The Adventure

So the inspiration from Betsy Brown article in House Beautiful lead me to try a DIY project while visiting my mom in Mobile. We were going to make a fabulous antique mirror, and save tons of money. Ha! It was an adventure to say the least. I googled a few "how to's", and thought hey I can do this. I printed off the supply list and directions, and my mom and I ventured to Home Depot to gather our gear. This was at 11:30 in the morning. We finished our project at 9:00 at night. Two trips to Home Depot, three trips for wine and beer, and a huge mess later we completed the project. My sweet mom took the first mirror, because I wasn't 100% happy with the result. I have to say it looked great on her wall. It was NOT as easy as the other blogs made it out to be. Below is our adventure, and my advice on how to antique a mirror.

This is what the mirror will look like on the back once it is out of the box. There is a layer of paint that has to be removed. Maybe two layers, it depends. Lay it out on a drop cloth outside near a hose. Lather the paint stripper on and let it sit for as long as you can! It makes the removal process much easier. Then you can begin the oh so fun process of removing the muck. Tip, do not use organic paint stripper. Get the real deal. Organic took forever to work!!

This was our first mistake. We used a metal scrapper(that's what the other blogs said to do), and it made TERRIBLE scratches all over that could be seen on the other side. Plastic scrappers did the same thing. Lesson learned. Like my awesome gloves?

Here is when I needed a little liquid courage to keep me going. I recommend doing this when it is cool outside. The heat only adds to my frustration!

Once you start removing the stripper and paint, you will begin to see a silver mirrored finish. We found that a very gentle sponge, LOTS of cloths, and a little elbow grease was the best method for removing the paint and stripper. This helped avoid the scratches. We did all of this on a drop cloth. It gets messy!

More beer. This is key. Once the mirror has been stripped of paint, wash it off with the hose and give it a good wipe down. Once it is clean spray the backside with the muric acid. The more you spray the more antique it looks. I sprayed more around the edges so it would look more authentic. Let the acid sit for 20-45 seconds and rinse with the hose. This stuff is no joke. Be careful and do not breathe it in your lungs! If you think you want more spots, spray again and rinse again until you get the desired effect.

This is a crappy shot of the mirror after the muric acid was applied. Trust me it looks cool. Rinse and wipe the mirror down until it is completely dry. Now you are ready for the final step. Spray paint! Spray the entire back with black spray paint. Let dry. You are almost done.

Mom and I had moved onto wine at this point. This is the second mirror we had done, and we were kind of over it.

Close up of mirror with black spray paint applied.

Here is my sweet mom putting the finishing coat on the second mirror. She is going to kill me for this picture. I am not going to show you the final product, because I still have to frame it. Overall, the mirrors turned out great. I will do another post on the final outcome, and the progress of my fireplace mantle revamp. I need a few more things, and a little more money!!


* Mirror, any size you would like. I used a 36"x48"

* Chemical Resistant Gloves

* Muric Acid

* Spray Bottle

* Paint Striper

* Flat Black Spray Paint

* Lots of Disposable Cloths

* Drop Cloth

* Wine

Until next time,



  1. This was great, especially the beer and wine part! I tried this today and made the same mistake of scraping the back. So I took a sanding sponge and sanded the whole thing in swirls, after the muratic acid. I have no idea how this is going to look. My question is how to remove the copper colored backing? Or does the acid work through this?

  2. I've just downloaded iStripper, and now I enjoy having the best virtual strippers on my desktop.