Budget Home Decor

How to Paint a Mirror Frame: Easy DIY on a Budget

Chalk paint on sliver mirror frame with texting reading Easy DIY on a Budget: Refresh a Mirror Frame on a Budget

Before and after picture of a painted mirror frameOne of the easiest and cheapest ways to update a bathroom is to with paint. You can paint the walls, sure, but why not paint mirror frames, fixtures, lights, towel holders, and even doorknobs?

What’s “in” can change pretty quickly – much quicker than your lights, doorknobs, or mirror frames break or stop working. Rather than wasting money on buying new and figuring out how to switch them out, you can easily update what you already have without breaking the bank.

Our bathroom needed a refresh but just wasn’t in the budget, since we’re focusing on the kitchen. So instead, we chose to go after some small and simple wins by choosing to renew pieces rather than replace them.

One of the pieces we focused on renewing was our bathroom mirror. My husband hated the silver, heavy finish, and candidly, it was pretty dated.

So with a couple of hours to kill and $20 burning a hole in my pocket, I set off to paint the mirror frame.

Silver mirror frame with chalk paint, metallic paint, and brush

How to Paint an Old Mirror Frame

What paint do I use to paint a mirror frame?

There are a lot of different options out there, and this is a small enough project that it’s perfect for trying something new.

While I did a mix of chalk paint, acrylic, and wax in layers on my mirror frame, you can easily try something else. Some paint ideas include:

  1. Chalk paint.

     I love, love using chalk paint on mirror frames because they tend to have a lot of details and crevices. It makes it easy to layer colors, play with tinted wax, and build a layered look to your color palette. Plus, you don’t have to use a primer with chalk paint. It adheres great to wood, metal, and plastic mirror frames.

  2. Spray paint.

    If you’re not looking for a lot of layered color or dimension, spray paint can work. You can get it textured, matte, metallic, hammered and even chalkboard. Plus, some spray paints have primer and paint in one, so you don’t always have to use a primer. Spray paint would work if your mirror frame is flat without a lot of crevices or detail work, and you can easily remove it from the wall.

  3. Latex paint.

    If you have a wall color that you love, you can use latex paint on your mirror frame. Make sure to use a foam roller to avoid brush strokes. I would only recommend this if your frame is relatively plain and doesn’t require a lot of brushwork. Also, you’ll need to use a primer to get solid coverage. If your mirror belongs in a bathroom or an area with high moisture, consider latex paint specifically for bathrooms. 

  4. Wood Stain.

    If your mirror frame is wood, you can sand down the old stain (or paint) and restain it with a stain like this. Sanding, restaining, and sealing can be time-intensive but will produce a beautiful wood finish. 

  5. Milk paint.

     This paint often comes in a powder that you mix to create your perfect hue. Since mirror frames are small, this could be an excellent opportunity to try out milk paint. It produces a more ‘chippy’ look and will distress more over time. Milk paint also ages over time, creating a sheen that gives it an authentic antique look.

  6. Salt wash.

    Salt wash is perfect if you want an aged and antiqued look. It creates a very textured surface that makes the piece look like it’s been sitting out in the sea air and sun for ages. Combining salt wash with any of the paints above creates a unique and beautiful piece!

  7. Gold leaf/foil.

    If you want to learn how to paint a mirror frame antique gold, try gold leaf. Once painted, you apply thin sheets of gold leaf to create a beautiful and luxurious finish. If you’re want to change a gold mirror frame to silver or bronze, they make silver and bronze leaf as well. The gold leaf look can be acheived with paint without the work – I would recommend using something like this paint.

What you will need to paint a mirror frame:

To paint this mirror frame, I used chalk paint since I knew I could create some beautiful textures and layers with the details of the frame. My frame is plastic, so I knew that chalk paint would be easier to use since I wouldn’t have to mess with a primer.


How to protect a mirror when painting a frame

My mirror and frame are the door of a medicine cabinet. Luckily, I was able to use a screwdriver to dismantle the frame and remove it entirely from the door. 

On the inside of the door were screws around the entire oval. I removed the screws from the top so that I could slide out the glass part of the mirror before removing the plastic frame. I then placed the mirror in a safe place (ekkk!), removed the rest of the screws, and popped off the mirror frame.

If your frame doesn’t come off, try removing the full door/mirror.

If you can’t remove the mirror from the frame, you’ll want to cut a piece of cardboard to place over the mirror area. Then, you’ll use painter’s tape to tape under the edge of the frame, so that paint doesn’t end up on the mirror.

An alternative idea: Another interesting idea is to use vaseline, however, then you have to worry about it getting on the frame and preventing the paint from sticking well, especially since vaseline can be used to distress chalk paint. Plus, then you have to clean vaseline off your mirror, which seems like it could be a smeary pain in the butt.

Next, prep your mirror frame for painting.

If you’re choosing to stain a wood frame, now is when you would use a sander or sandpaper to strip the wood down. Once the sanding is done, make sure to wipe the frame down with a damp cloth or a tack cloth to remove all the bits of dust. If you don’t, your paint job will be a bumpy, hot mess!

If you’re painting your frame (whether metal, wood, or plastic), wipe it down and clean it with a damp cloth or Magic Eraser. This removes any stray toothpaste chunks, dirt, or gunk that’s made its way onto the frame over the years. 

Paint your base coat.

I chose FolkArt’s White Adirondack and put down two layers with a small sponge brush. Using a sponge kept the frame from having brushstrokes that would create a different texture than I wanted.

Here’s the mirror frame after one coat of chalk paint:

Mirror with first coat of chalk paint being added

And after the second coat of chalk paint:

Mirror with two coats of chalk paint

Now that I have my base down, I could do several things. I could add some wax (from a candle) or vaseline to create spots where I can show this bottom color through. I did that on this dresser, to show the blue through.

If I did a second chalk paint color, I could paint and wipe to show some of the base color. Or, I could let it dry and sand where I’ve added the vaseline/candle wax to create a chunkier removal of paint, as I did here.

However, for this project, I decided to just stick with one chalk paint for the mirror frame to keep it from being too heavy and dark.  

Next, use wax to seal the frame.

Since we have rubbed oil bronze in our bathroom, I decided to pull some brown into the mirror frame. I did this by sealing the frame with brown wax.

You can see it best in the coils around the frame here:

Brown wax over white chalk paint on mirror frame

Wax comes in various colors, including clear, white, brown, and even grey. It will give a beautiful tint to your piece. Remember that wax settles in the cracks and crevices of your frame, so that’s the color you’ll see in those areas.

To use the wax, brush it on over a small area. Then, use a clean white cloth to wipe it off. 

Bonus Tip for Using Wax: If the brown is too dark, you can mix your wax with clear wax before brushing it on. Or, if you’ve already brushed and wiped your brown wax off, you can brush on a clear wax over the top. Then, use the cloth to wipe and help pick up and remove some of the brown wax. Using the clear wax will help soften that heavier color.

Once you’re done with your wax layer, you want to let it dry overnight. Then you’re going to want to use a soft, white cloth to buff the wax to a dull shine.

Antique wax over white chalk paint on plastic mirror frame

Add some highlights to your frame.

You can choose to stop here, but since I was attempting to match the rubbed oil bronze look, I opted to do some dry brushing of highlights.

Dry brushing is a method where you use very little paint to highlight spots of your frame. Start with a dry brush and dab the tip in the paint. Then, you’re going to use a paper towel to dab the brush onto to remove any excess paint.

You want to make sure the brush is dry and not saturated with paint. Once you have most of the color off, you’re going to hit the high parts of the frame to create a highlight with your accent color. I went through and did a round with a beautiful rose gold metallic paint:

Metallic rose gold paint with plastic mirror frame

And then the second dry brush was with a metallic bronze acrylic paint:

Painted mirror frame with metallic highlights and brown wax

If you feel like it’s too much of a highlight, use a cloth to wipe off the excess. You just want to hit the high points of the mirror frame with paint to give it a little pop.

Seal the entire frame (optional).

If you’re feeling especially froggy, you can then seal the entire frame with a coat of clear wax. This wax layer ensures that all the layers of paint set and are covered. 

The final wax coat is entirely optional and up to you! At this point, I just wanted to get the finished piece back in place – and then mirror back in the frame before a kid or cat knocked it over!

FInished chalk paint mirror frame

Clean the mirror.

Now that your mirror is done, remove any painter’s tape and cardboard. If you got paint on the mirror, no worries! The easiest way to remove any paint is to use a flat razor blade like this one to scrap off the paint. Luckily you aren’t likely to scratch the mirror since it’s flat to the surface when it scrapes.

As a final step, make sure to use window cleaner (or vinegar and water) to clean the glass after you’re all done. Here’s the final outcome:

Before and after of chalk paint mirror frame


Now that you know how to paint a metal, wooden or plastic mirror frame, what do you plan to try out? Leave a note in the comments below!

How to update for cheap with chalk paint furniture

How to update for cheap with chalk paint furniture

Want to spruce up your house while on a tight budget? Buying new furniture and decor might be out of the question, but you can always repurpose what you have to save money. That’s why I love to chalk paint furniture. It’s taking what we already have – or have gotten cheap – and completely changing how they look without killing our budget.

I’ve become a pro at repurposing pieces in our house. Whether it’s end tables, dressers or coffee tables, I love stripping, staining and painting to change the look of our house without spending a ton of money.

One easy way to achieve this is to use chalk paint. By choosing to chalk paint furniture, you can easily change pieces you already have without breaking the bank or your back. Chalk paint is easy to use, stays put, and has infinite possibilities when you layer different colors with different waxes.

Want to update your house without breaking your budget? Try chalk paint furniture! It's easy to take an old piece and give it a new, beautiful look with chalk paint! #chalkpaint #cheaphomedecor #homedecor #budget #diy

What is chalk paint?

Chalk paint is latex paint that’s had plaster of paris and water added to it. Remember using plaster of paris, water, and newspaper strips to create paper mache sculptures? Yup, it’s the same stuff.

You can even create your own chalk paint with one of the many chalk paint recipes found on Pinterest. Essentially, you add plaster of paris and water to a latex paint that you already have and voila – you have chalk paint!

Why use chalk paint vs regular paint?

Chalk paint is very forgiving compared to latex paint. It dries much faster, and you can create beautiful layers of color in a way that you can’t with latex. It’s easier to use and clean up, and is less expensive than straight latex paint because you use less.

Plus, I’ve never had chalk paint peel or stick the way that latex that hasn’t set right does. And, it goes on much easier over old paint, as you’ll see in my photos.

Choosing to use chalk paint involves a couple more steps than painting with straight latex paint, but a little paint goes a long way. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll see that it’s a cheap and easy way to completely change the look of a piece of furniture – as well as an inexpensive way to spruce up a room.

How to use chalk paint

Using chalk paint is very easy. Luckily I just updated a dresser that had been passed to us, so I took photos and wrote down the steps.

Items needed to chalk paint furniture:

Where to buy chalk paint for furniture

All in all, the required items added up to less than $50. I did already have a sander and sandpaper lying around, as well as wood glue and chalk paint wax. However, you can easily find this stuff on Amazon or when sales hit at your local craft or home improvement store.

I do recommend getting a paint brush specifically for chalk painting. They are just much easier to hold and really help to create a beautiful texture. You can get a two pack for around $12. One of the best brushes for chalk painting I’ve found is this one.

Step 1: Prepare the furniture.

Start by removing the knobs off of dressers and drawers. Then, you want to sand off any thick parts of old paint or stain. Essentially, you want to break up that old glossy layer that the paint or varnish has created. The new paint will stick much better if you remove that smooth top layer.

I start out with a lower grit sandpaper, like around 100. That means it’s more coarse, and will clean off the old paint faster. In this case, there were wood pieces on top of the dresser that were used as a base to a changing table. I removed them, but there were thick paint ridges left behind. I used the 100 grit sandpaper to remove them and create a smoother surface.

Using a hand sander to remove the old paint for my chalk paint furniture update.
Using a hand sander to remove the old paint.

Next, I used a higher grit sandpaper to smooth the wood. You don’t have to take off all the old paint – but you do want the surface smooth. Otherwise, you’ll feel and see bumps that’ll drive you nuts.

I suggest using a sander if you have one. Hand sanding is fine, but I prefer my arms not to fall off. Maybe you enjoy workouts though – if so, you do you, boo!

Use the hand sander or sandpaper to remove the old paint and prep the furniture for the chalk paint.
Check out my drawers! 😉

Step 2: Fill in any holes.

As you can see here, I had some holes where the top wood pieces were held onto the dresser with dowels. Use some wood filler to fill in those holes. I suggest actually over filling them, because it tends to shrink when it dries.

Once the wood filler is completely dry, you’ll want to hand sand it with some sandpaper. Sand off the excess, and create a smooth surface.

Use wood filler to prep your surface and fill any holes before painting.
I liked this wood filler because it came in a tube and I could cut an angle on the tip. It’s easier than scooping the filler out of a bucket and trying to fill the spots.

Step 3: Clean the furniture.

Now that you’re done sanding, you need to get all that grit off of the furniture for a smooth paint. Use a tack cloth to pick up all of the dust and dirt. A tack cloth is a cheesecloth that has linseed oil on it. They’re great for grabbing all those tiny particles and creating a clean surface.

Use a tack cloth to clean up your furniture before painting with chalk paint.
Tack cloths are a thing of beauty. Just look at all the junk it picked up!

Step 4: Add wood appliques to fancy things up.

These are purely optional, but they can spruce up a dull piece of furniture. They are unfinished wood pieces that look like flowers or scrolls.

The wood appliques are easy to add. Just add wood glue to the back, place, and put something heavy on top. Do not add too much glue, otherwise it’ll leak out and make a mess. If this does happen, just grab a wet paper towel and wipe off the excess.

Luckily, wood glue is really strong and works great. If you’re worried about them falling off, you can try nailing them on as well. I would recommend using an actually nail gun though, since trying to nail appliques with wood glue on the back is slippery and tricky work!

Pro tip: Adding things like appliques create a beautifully textured surface that will better showcase your awesome paint skills. Why not try one of these?

Use wood glue to add wood appliques to your furniture to create a new look.
Wood appliques are an easy way to change up the look of any wood furniture!

Step 5: Add your first layer of chalk paint.

Alrighty – we’re ready to paint! The color that you want to show as a highlight, you’ll want to put on first. When applying chalk paint, you can paint in one direction to create an even, smoother coverage. Or, you can choose to create strokes in multiple directions to add texture and bumper coverage.

Luckily, when you chalk paint furniture, it dries really fast. As soon as I was done with the third drawer, the first one was dry. If you see any thin spots in your paint, go back and touch them up so you have solid coverage. If you try while it’s still wet, you can end up taking off paint. Weird, I know. If you experience this, wait for it to dry and then touch up as needed.

Paint your first chalk paint color onto your furniture with a chalk paint brush.
Add your first layer of chalk paint. This will be the color that you want as a highlight, not as the main color.

Step 6: Use candles to create patchy spots.

Look at your furniture and figure out where it’s most likely to have wear spots. I tend to add them around the edges, where there are any curves or bumpy spots (like on the appliques), or on the edge of the top of the dresser.

Any place you want your highlight or base color to show through, you’ll want to rub the candle over it. The more wax you deposit from the candle, the more you’ll be able to remove the top color.

Pro tip: The wax from the candle creates a barrier to make it easier to remove the top color. If you want to make it really distressed and chunky, you can use petroleum jelly or something similar to create a greater barrier.

Use a candle to create a wax barrier between chalk paint layers.
It’s a lot easier to rub the wax from the candle onto the furniture once you’ve created a flat spot on the side of the candle.

Step 7: Add your top chalk paint color.

Wondering how long between coats of chalk paint? Don’t worry – it dries quickly so you’ll have to wait a minimal amount of time to make sure everything’s dry. I’d say 30 minutes, tops!

Next use your chalk paint brush to add your top color. I did a neutral gray to cover the turquoise. Make sure that you do an even coat and cover everything, including the tiny cracks and dips around your appliques.

Coat your furniture with a second color of chalk paint.
Paint your second chalk paint color on. For this, I choose a neutral gray.

Step 8: Time to sand, again.

Now that your second color of chalk paint is dry, you’ll want to sand off the bits that you covered in candle wax. Just use a high grit sandpaper (a finer sandpaper) and start small. You can also use a wet paper towel to remove the paint in a smoother fashion.

Sandpaper will create a chunkier removal of the top paint (see picture), and the wet paper towel will create a smoother removal.

Remove as much or as little as you want to create a unique chalk paint furniture look. If you sand or wipe outside of the area without the candle wax barrier, you will remove both layers of paint. It takes a lot to do that though, so don’t be shy about putting your elbows into it!

Use a high grit sandpaper to remove the top layer of paint where you've used your candle wax.
Look at that beautiful color popping through! I’m sanding where I previously rubbed the candle and left the wax barrier.

Step 9: Wax on, wax off.

Now that you’re done painting and distressing your piece, I’m sure you want to know how to finish chalk paint furniture, right?

You need to seal the piece so that the paint doesn’t accidentally get scraped or washed off. You’ll want to add a wax coat to seal the piece.

Chalk paint wax can come in multiple colors to add another layer of color to your furniture. In this case, I used some clear mixed with white. It created a small tint to corners and dips that added some dimension to the piece.

When you add the wax, you want to brush it on with your chalk paint brush in a very, very thin layer. I like to brush it on, and then wipe it off with a clean cloth towel. It keeps the color from being overbearing and taking over.

To get it into all the cracks and crevices, use your chalk paint brush and paint in swirls to fill those spots. It will be hard to remove the wax from the crevices, but it adds depth and color to your furniture.

Pro tip: If you are using a colored chalk paint wax and it gets too dark or heavy, just apply a clear wax over top and wipe before they dry. The clear wax helps to remove the excess darker wax easily.

Coat your chalk paint furniture in a layer of chalk paint wax, then wipe if needed.
Make sure you put your wax on in a light layer. I like to wipe it right after, before it dries to take some back off.

Step 10: Buff your furniture.

After letting your piece dry overnight, use a soft clean towel to buff the furniture to the amount of shine that you want. I left mine relatively dull since distressed and shine don’t quite go together in my mind.

Step 11: Add knobs

If you have drawers, add some new and fun knobs. I snagged these at Home Depot for about $3 a piece, which was the most expensive part of the whole project!

Add your new knobs to your chalk paint furniture. You're almost done!
Add some cute and funky drawer knobs to create a new, fun look!

Step 12: Enjoy your “new” furniture!

Put your new chalk paint furniture in its place and admire your beautiful work!

Enjoy your finished chalk paint furniture!
Look at how the swirls of the wood appliques add extra spots for the highlight color to shine through!
Close up of completed chalk paint furniture
I love the rustic distressed look using candle wax and sanding created here.
Completed chalk paint furniture piece
Here you can see the white chalk paint wax has left some additional highlights on the wood applique.
Before and after of chalk paint furniture
Here’s the final before and after shot – quite the difference, right?

There are a million chalk paint furniture ideas that you can use to change up your home without spending a fortune. Now that you know how easy it is, you can find ways to use chalk paint all over your house. I’ve refinished bookcases, dressers, and even created several picture frames and painted them. The ways in which you can use chalk paint are endless!

Did you find this tutorial helpful? If so, comment below and show me your before and after furniture makeovers! I’d absolutely love to see them!

Here are a couple of related articles I’m sure you’ll love:

The 10 Best Farmhouse Decor Gifts for Devout Fixer Upper Fans

The 10 Best Gifts for the Beginning Woodworker

Amazingly Simple Cleaning Tips that’ll Save You Tons of Money


It's easy to do home decor updates within your budget when you try chalk paint. Chalk paint furniture is an easy, fun and inexpensive way to update a room without spending a fortune. #budget #homedecor #cheaphomedecor #diy