How to Update a Secondhand Mirror with Chalk Paint


Mirror Frame Painted with Chalk Paint

Using chalk paint as a tool for furniture refinishing has been gaining in popularity during the last several years. Chalk paint is basically a matte or flat paint base with a wax topcoat. There are several brands on the market, each with several colors, plus clear and dark waxes.

An advantage to using chalk paint is that it doesn’t require sanding or priming. Although you can use it on any piece of furniture, I particularly like to use it on pieces with carving details or a distressed finish. I knew this mirror in a lovely—yet boring—wood frame was the perfect candidate for chalk paint. You can find budget-friendly mirrors for sale in your neighborhood on Krrb.

Mirror and Frame Before

The frame is stained in a medium brown, while the dot edge and floral-and-leaf design are a metallic gold. It’s perfectly fine as is, but I’ve never been one to leave well enough alone!

Chalk Paint

Most DIY projects can be approached with the same principles used in interior design. In this case, layering is the key element.


I purchased charcoal grey and off-white paints and clear and “antique” waxes. There are all sorts of special brushes you can buy, but I used a small soft bristle brush, a flat-edge stencil brush and a cotton cloth.

First Coat of Grey

First, I removed the mirror. After cleaning the frame with a rag, I painted two coats of charcoal grey on the entire frame. There is no need to wait until the first coat is dry.

Two Coats of Grey Close Up

Since the goal was to achieve an antique looking mirror, it was necessary to add several layers of paint. Instead of getting the grey into all the grooves, I made sure some of the original gold showed through.

White Paint and Brush

I used the dry brush method to “layer” the off-white paint. Pour a small amount of paint on wax paper or a paper plate. Dip the brush in the paint and dab off most of it onto a paper towel.

Dry Brush White

With an almost dry brush, paint the highlights of the carved design as well as the flat edges with the off-white paint. Before it dried, I used a clean cloth to wipe some of it off.

Apply Coat of Wax

Chalk wax has a similar consistency to nice face cream. It serves as a sealer and protectant and it adds shine. It will also allow you to remove some of the color (more layers).

First, I used a rag to apply a coat of “antique” wax. This darker color really adds depth and creates the illusion of a fine antique. I gave it two coats, rubbing off some of the color in strategic spots around the frame. You don’t want it to look uniform—it should appear old and worn.

New Antique Mirror

Finally, I used a clean cloth to give the whole frame a coat of clear wax, and then immediately wiped off the excess. Clear wax will not change the color of the chalk paint, but if you rub too hard and remove too much color, go back and repaint!

After the wax was completely dry, I gently buffed it to get a satin shine.

Second Coat of Wax

I love the final result. This basic and rather bland framed mirror transformed into a very pretty and rustic faux antique. The beauty of chalk paint is that you really can’t make a mistake. It’s very forgiving and so easy to re-do if you aren’t happy with your first result. Pick up a secondhand mirror, experiment and soon you’ll be hooked!

Interior designer Merri Cvetan writes about her design experiences, as well as her DIY decor ideas, for Home Depot. Merri's career in design began after she purchased an 1890s fixer-upper farm house. You can view a complete line of mirrors available at Home Depot here.