How to Antique a Picture Frame

Love the look but not the price tag? I’ll show you how to take any picture frame and turn it into an expensive-looking antique frame with just a few simple products. Learn how to antique a picture frame!

Maybe it was the antique pumpkins.

But now I have the urge to antique everything in my house.

One of my favorite designers, Heidi Caillier, uses antiques and rustic elements in her designs mixed with modern decor and furniture. It’s one of the things I love most about her spaces.

cheap frames from target and dollar store
transform cheap frames into vintage ones!

One prime example of this?

Antique gold/copper picture frames with a beautiful piece of art. It looks so collected. I love the combination of a modern-looking space with antiquated items like this.

Unfortunately, getting your hands on one of these gorgeous vintage frames is not easy. Or cheap.

I recently stopped by a store around here and while I fell head over heels in love with their collection of salvaged frames, I had to take a hard pass at the over $100+ price tags. Maybe someday I can treat myself to one of these genuine beauties.

For now, I’m going to try to recreate them myself. After all – it’s the look I’m after.

Let’s make it happen!

Materials Needed

How to Make a Picture Frame look Antique

materials needed to antique a cheap picture frame

Here’s how you can easily antique any cheap frame.

But first, a note about frames.

This technique works best on a frame that has some detailing to it. Or texture. Whether it’s detailing such as lines or scrolls or the texture of the material such as wood. For this tutorial, I tried this on a cheap plastic Dollar Tree frame and also on two inexpensive wood frames I picked up from Target. I think they all turned out beautiful!

I picked out some frames I thought would be good for this project.

How to Antique a Picture Frame

With that being said, if you just have a plain flat frame, this antique look might not provide the same punch. It might just look like a gold frame.

Luckily – it’s not hard to find frames with detail. Dollar Tree has them, Target has them and you can bet your local thrift stores have some too.

Ok – let’s get started.

Step 1: Paint on your First Layer.

spray paint a frame copper

My plastic Dollar Tree frame was not really “grabbing” that first layer of gold paint. So I decided to start with a fresh base and totally spray paint it first. I used this copper spray paint because that’s what I had on hand. You could also use regular gold spray paint. As long as it will adhere to plastic you are good to go.

Once that layer is dry – proceed to paint on your gold paint as outlined here.

If you have a wood frame, you will find that you don’t need this extra spray paint step. You can paint the gold layer on the frame right away and it will absorb into the wood nicely.

Use your stencil brush to paint on the gold. Using a stencil brush gives the finished frame a bit more texture and “age”. I thought so at least. Plus, I just like saying things like “texture” and “age”. LOL.

You should allow this layer to dry before moving to step 2. I found it dried pretty quick!

Step 2: Paint on your Antique Gold.

rub n' buff in antique gold

Here’s where the magic starts to happen.

Take a bit of Rub N’ Buff and literally “paint” it on the frame. For frames with detailing – you can focus on these areas. I find that antique frames tend to be darker in the cracks and crevices.

For other frames, you can literally paint this on all over. I love the combo of the gold paint mixed with the coppery antique gold paint. See what I did there? No? Me neither. 🙂

Wait for it to dry!


Step 3: Add more texture with Gold Paint – if needed.

showing gold painted frames drying - how to antique a picture frame

Once your first two layers are dry, it’s time to give your frame a good objective eye.

Hold it against the wall. Does it look antique-y? If you need a bit more zhushing – you can take some additional gold paint and your stencil brush and tap tap tap on some more gold paint where needed.

Wait for it to dry! Again!


By the way – I included a video if you want to watch!

Your Finished Frame

Drumroll, please …..

I present to you …

ANTIQUE GOLD FRAMES. For hella cheap.

gold antique frames hanging on a wall

How cool do these look? And you would never know that it’s literally a dollar tree cheap frame. Craziness.

Now to blow your mind even more.

greeting cards - Emily Winfield Martin - as artwork

These were 4×6 frames. And I needed a small piece of artwork. So instead of printing one or buying one … I bought … wait for it …

WAAAAAitttttt foooooorrrrrrr iiiiiiiiiiiitttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt ….


If you go to Paper Source or a specialty card shop, they have these greeting cards that look stunning to me. Like small pieces of art. I mean, literally they are artwork on a card. And they fit perfectly in a 4×6 frame.

gold frames on a wall
closeup of gold frames on a wall

I have to tell you about these ones. They are from an artist named Emily Winfield Martin. I saw these cards and instantly fell in love with her work. I wanted to buy ALL the cards.

How to Antique a Picture Frame

Check out her website! There’s amazing stuff there.

And don’t discount the greeting card aisle if you need small art for small frames.

trace and cut picture out to fit in frame

Once I cut the cards down to size and framed them – I have to say. Very proud of the finished product.

gold frames on a wall
how to antique a picture frame

They look great!

gold frame on kitchen wood shelving
gold frame on kitchen wood shelving
gold frame on kitchen wood shelving

What do you guys think?

If you have any old frames lying around – I hope I inspired you to try this technique.

Until next time my friends,

xo Karen