How to Distress a Mirror

Mirrors in a home.
  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-40
What You'll Need
Newspaper or old table cloth
Paint thinner
Coarse and fine sanding paper
Household bleach
Black paint
Another color of paint
Paint brushes
Two cloths
Cotton buds

A mirror is a vital element of room decoration, as it can create a sense of light and space. An antique mirror can add style to a room, but purchasing an antique mirror can be quite costly. There are two methods for distressing a mirror; one is to distress the mirror itself, and the other is to distress its wooden frame. Both are fun and fairly simple as part of a DIY project and can be mastered quite easily.

Step 1 - Ready the Workspace

Ensure that the intended work area is clear and stable. A kitchen table can provide a good base as long as it is covered with an old cloth or plenty of newspaper to prevent it from damage. Ensure that the area is well ventilated.

Step 2 - Prepare

Place the mirror face down onto the work area and then remove the cardboard or wooden backing to reveal the back silver coat of the mirror. Remove the mirror from its frame and set it aside carefully. This will make it easier regardless of which distressing technique is being used.

Step 3 - Understand Distressing Process

To distress the mirror glass, apply paint thinner to the silver backing. Leave for a couple of minutes and then rub with a dry cloth. This process can be repeated as often as desired. To begin the distressing process for the mirror frame, use coarse sanding paper to remove all of the paint until the wood is fully exposed.

Step 4 - Tarnish

Use a cotton bud to apply a small amount of household bleach at random spots on the thinned silver on the back of the mirror glass. Leave this for a few minutes and wait for the areas to turn black. Then wipe the back of the mirror with a damp cloth to remove the remainder of the bleach and to stop the tarnishing process. Once the backing has been reattached, the mirror glass distressing process is now complete. To start to create the tarnished effect on the mirror frame, paint the whole area with a coat of black paint and leave it to dry.

Step 5 - Paint

Cover the mirror frame with another coat of paint; this can be any color so long as it is different from the base coat. Set the mirror frame aside and leave it dry fully. Do not try to remove any paint until both layers are dry as this will cause the paint to smudge and the overall distressed effect will not be as dramatic.

Step 6 – Distress the Frame

Use fine sanding paper to rub away some of the top coat of paint—this will expose the undercoat and create a distressed appearance on the mirror frame. Paint thinner can also be applied to the top coat of paint in order to create a distress pattern on the frame. Now fix the mirror back into the frame.