How to Distress a Mirror

antique mirror above a sideboard in a dining room

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I recently found a large, wood framed mirror at our thrift store for $25, and I thought I would show you how to distress a mirror. 

thrift store mirror makeover
before

This mirror I thrifted is HEAVY and overall in decent shape but the frame was painted HOT pink. Yuck.  I’m guessing this came off of a dresser of some sort but I could be wrong. Our dining room is somewhat modern, so I despserately wanted to contrast that with an old distressed mirror, or one with a light foxing as they say.

This DIY is slightly different from my DIY Antique Mirror, because that was using the glass out of a picture frame.  This is an actual mirror that we are distressing.  So here’s the process – I hope you guys like the end result! 

Things You’ll Need

  • Mirror
  • Citristrip (see article how to use citristrip)
  • Chemical Protectant Gloves
  • Safety Goggles
  • Safety Mask (Respirator Mask)
  • Plastic Scraper Tool
  • Black Spray Paint (or you can use brown)
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • 50/50 Bleach and Water Mixture in a Spray Bottle (FYI: I read you can also use vinegar/water, but I didn’t use that so I’m going with what worked for me).

Note:  This tutorial mainly focuses on distressing the mirror.  But if you’re curious about the frame, I sanded down the frame as best as I could (it took me literal hours), and then stained it Provincial by Minwax.  All that sanding kind of roughed it up a bit, which is the look I was going for anyway!

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How to Distress a Mirror

antique mirror above a sideboard in a dining room

How to Distress a Mirror and Make it Look Old

Total time: 1 day

  1. Remove Mirror From Frame

    mirror backing

    Remove the mirror from the frame and lay the mirror on old cardboard pieces with the back facing you (that’s the gray/black layer facing up).

  2. Apply Citristrip to Back of Mirror

    old mirror - how to distress

    I used the Citristrip spray as opposed to the gel so all I had to do was spray it on and wait. If you use the gel, you will need to apply it with a paintbrush. Give it about 30 minutes and then test and see if the layer is ready to come off. 30 minutes was all I needed.

  3. Scrape off Gray/Black Layer of Mirror

    bleach/water spray on a mirror

    Use a plastic scraper to gently scrape off this black/gray layer. It should come right off like butter. If not, leave the citristrip on for a little longer.

  4. Clean Mirror with Glass Cleaner

    After the mirror is scraped, wipe off the goop with some glass cleaner.

  5. Spray Mirror with Bleach/Water mixture

    bleach/water spray on a mirror

    Spray your mirror with bleach/water mixture. I mainly sprayed around the edges of the mirror, that’s what I felt looked the most natural for an ageing mirror. I only let the bleach mixture sit for about a minute and then blotted it off with a paper towel. It’s best to work quick because the bleach can really eat through the mirror. You won’t really be able to see it working until you hold it up afterwards. Put your hand behind it to see how the bleach spots are looking. You should be able to see right through to your hand in some areas. If you want more, repeat the bleach mixture as needed.

  6. Clean off Bleach Mixture

    Once you are satisfied with how it looks, wipe the mirror clean with a damp rag.

  7. Spray Paint Mirror

    Spray paint the mirror. I chose black, but you can also use brown or even gold. Look at distressed mirrors and get some inspiration for colors. Allow the spray paint to dry completely, overnight if possible.

  8. Flip mirror over and Put back into frame

    Now flip your mirror over and place it back into the frame. Doesn’t it look beautifully aged?


Here’s the final result of our mirror. From hot pink to rustic beauty! What do you guys think? You can’t beat having a large mirror with character for only $25!

antique mirror above a sideboard in a dining room
close up of a distressed, aged, antique mirror
distressed antique mirror in a dining room
close up of peach wildflowers with a distressed, aged, antique mirror
close up of a distressed, aged, antique mirror
close up of a distressed, aged, antique mirror
antique mirror above a sideboard in a dining room
how to distress a mirror
antique mirror above a sideboard in a dining room

And the best part is, I can always replace the mirror down the road (if I feel like it) with a brand new one and keep the frame. I’m can’t wait to throw a wreath or some garland over this mirror for the holidays!

xo Karen

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