Upcycle an old mirror the easy way

Upcycle an old mirror the easy way

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A few weeks ago I posted about giving an old mirror a farmhouse-style makeover. Two days after I made that post, I was driving around when I spotted a mirror amongst a pile of other junk put out for the local council to pick up. As is usually the way when I spot such piles, I pulled over to have a poke around. The mirror was not in great condition. It was so dirty that my hands were completely coated in a fine brownish-black dust from touching it. Paint chipped off with the lightest touch. Several bugs had made homes in the mirror’s numerous crevices, which were filled with dirt and bug waste. Charming. Despite the muck, I loved the mirror’s style and felt like it would be fairly easy to restore. After brushing off the worst of the dirt and bugs, I loaded the mirror into my car boot and drove home thinking about how best to upcycle an old mirror like this.

While I loved how my chalk paint mirror turned out, I really wanted a super quick and easy DIY project that I could slot into my busy week. Chalk paint, with all the waiting on layers to dry and the subsequent antiquing glaze, just didn’t fit the bill this time. Instead, I decided I wanted to spray paint the mirror. So today I’m going to share with you one way you can upcycle an old mirror quickly and easily using spray paint!

Upcycle an old mirror with spray paint

To upcycle an old mirror, you will need:

  • Cleaning supplies (a rag and warm, soapy water should do it)
  • 120 grit (or roughly similar) sandpaper
  • Painting tape (optional – only necessary if you can’t remove the mirror from the frame).
  • Primer (for plastic or metal, depending on your mirror’s surface)
  • Spray paint (I used Rustoleum’s “Burnished Amber” spray paint).
  • Paint sealer (I personally prefer a matt sealer, but if you prefer a glossy finish, go right ahead!)

Step 1: Clean your mirror

When I picked up my mirror it looked like this:

Dirty mirror before cleaning and upcycling


So I gave it a good scrub with warm soapy water. Even if your mirror is not as dirty as mine, it’s still a good idea to give it a wipe down. Removing dust and dirt helps spray paint adhere to surfaces better, minimising the chance of peeling or chipping paint.

Once you have cleaned your mirror, ensure that you dry the frame thoroughly.

Step 2: Sand 

As I mentioned, when I picked up this mirror the paint was flaking really badly. Here’s a close up of some of the flaking and chipping:

Mirror with flaking paint before upcycling

It’s not a good idea to spray paint a flaking surface. The spray paint will adhere to the surface, but if the base layer of paint is coming off then it’ll take your spray paint layer with it. To avoid this happening, I sanded the entire frame with 120 grit sandpaper, pulling off every bit of paint I could.

Sanding the mirror with 120 grit sandpaper before makeover

I recommend sanding your mirror frame even if it’s not flaking. Sanding scuffs up the surface slightly, which helps the spray paint stick better. No one likes a DIY project that ends in flakey paint. I should know: my own impatience means I’ve been guilty of about 10,000 of them.

Step 3: Prime your mirror

Once you have sanded your mirror, it’s time to prime!

If you can remove the mirror itself from the frame I recommend doing so. If not, you can protect the mirror glass by applying painter’s tape (or, if you’re me, electrical tape….hah) around the surface. Don’t stress if you get paint on the glass – it can be removed with a paint scraper.

Use a plastic or metal primer (depending on what your mirror is made from) to prime the frame.

Priming the frame before upcycling

Now, I know what you’re thinking: Do I really need to prime?

Honestly, yes.

I don’t prime all of my DIY projects (who has the time?) but I always prime metal and plastic. Whenever I’ve failed to prime metal/plastic, I’ve nearly always had issues. Usually the paint chips or flakes off. As such, I really strongly recommend priming metal/plastic even when using a spray paint advertised as ‘paint and primer in one’.

Before you upcycle an old mirror with spray paint you should prime the mirror

Once you have applied your primer, leave to dry according to the recommended drying time on the can.

Step 4: Spray paint your mirror

Now that all the boring prep is over, it’s time to spray paint your mirror! If you’re new to spray painting I recommend reading the instructions on the back of your can of spray paint. Pay attention to the application technique outlined on the can as well as suggested re-coat and drying times. If you’re a newbie or using an unfamiliar brand, stick to those recommendations. The alternative is to be like past me which involves ignoring the recommendations then crying because your project never dries past the icky gluggy stage.

Close up photo of mirror spray painted upcycle an old mirror

When spray painting, it’s best to apply multiple thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat. I applied two thin coats of paint to my mirror.

Leave your mirror to dry according to the instructions on your spray paint can.

Step 5: Seal your mirror

Your DIY mirror makeover is nearly finished (exciting!)

Once your upcycled mirror is dry, use a paint sealer to seal the paint. I used a matt sealer because I am not a huge fan of glossy finishes in my home. If you love glossy finishes, go right ahead and use a glossy sealer!

Photo of a woman sealing upcycled mirror with matt sealing spray

Leave to dry according to the instructions on the sealer.


Once your sealer has dried, your upcycled mirror is complete!

Photo of completed mirror sitting on table surrounded by greenery

Photo of the completed upcycled mirror hanging on the wall

Excuse the split system in the photo. I hate taking photos of mirrors!

Picture zoomed in on details of spray painted upcycled mirror

I love how this spray paint accentuates the pretty details of this mirror.

Have you upcycled an old mirror or any other home decor before? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

If you liked this upcycled mirror DIY project, please consider pinning it for later ♡

Upcycling dated home décor, rather than buying new, is a great way to give your home farmhouse style on a budget. This post shows you how to upcycle an old mirror using spray paint. Repurposing an old mirror with this DIY mirror makeover is a quick and easy DIY project that’s suitable for beginners and can be completed in just a few hours! #upcycleanoldmirror #upcycling #budgethomedecorideas #upcycledhomedecor #upcycledfarmhousedecor #farmhousedecorideas #mirrormakeover

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. This is a nifty bit of upcycling 🙂
    Really cool stuff!

    1. Thank you, Liam!

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