How to Paint a Non-Removable Mirror Frame

painting a frame

The Spruce / Caylin Harris

Overview
  • Total Time: 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

There might be no chicer home accessory than an ornate mirror. Not only do they make rooms appear larger than they are, but they also help bring light into a darker space and are ideal for adding visual interest to a wall. Plus, thanks to the variety of sizes, they look at home in awkward or small spaces like hallways, nooks, and entryways.

There are a few downsides though: Mirrors can be expensive and finding just the right style to match your home decor can be a challenge. If you happen to find one or have a mirror that has good bones, you can easily and inexpensively repaint the frame without having to remove the mirror from the frame.

Tip

This painting project works best on wood, metal, and laminate frames. Also, using spray paint will ensure that your finish is as smooth as possible. Using an acrylic paint that is brushed on will leave brush marks on the surface no matter how careful you are.

Supplies for prepping to paint a mirror
The Spruce / Caylin Harris

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Microfiber cloth

Materials

  • Painter's tape
  • Newspaper
  • Sandpaper
  • Spray primer
  • Spray paint

Instructions

  1. Prep Your Frame

    You will need to prepare the surface of the frame before you jump straight into painting. That means it needs to be clean and residue-free. If your mirror has been sitting in the attic forever, be especially diligent with this phase.

    Using a microfiber cloth (it works to trap dust particles), wipe down the entire frame, paying special attention to any nooks and grooves. If there is a sticky residue, use vinegar on your cloth to clean it. Do not use any kind of wax or dusting spray—the residue these leave behind might prevent the primer and paint from sticking to your frame.

    If possible, remove any embellishments or hardware—like hooks, hinges, or plating—that you do not want to be painted or if you want to repaint those items a different color.

    Cleaning a mirror frame
    The Spruce / Caylin Harris
  2. Sand Your Frame

    Sand down the top layer of finish or paint with a fine-grit sandpaper. Be gentle, especially if the frame is not made from solid wood. Just slightly rough up the surface texture because it will help the paint adhere better.

    If you skip this step, the paint can peel, chip, or crack in a very short time.

    Once you have finished sanding, wipe down the frame again, removing any dust. If you use a damp cloth, let the frame dry completely.

    Sanding a frame
    The Spruce / Caylin Harris
  3. Cover and Tape

    Before priming and painting, measure and cut a piece of newspaper (or any other paper) to fit over the surface of the mirror glass, leave a small gap around each edge.

    Holding the paper in place, use painter's tape to attach the paper to the mirror and cover the remaining piece of glass. You do not want any tape touching the frame. If you need to trim off the excess, use a utility knife to trim. Be thorough; any gap in coverage will end up covered in paint or primer.

    Painters' tape on a mirror
    The Spruce / Caylin Harris
  4. Prime and Paint Your Frame

    Apply your spray primer in thin, even strokes. Apply two coats of primer, allowing for drying time in between. If you are painting your frame a dark color, like black, use a gray primer. But if you are painting your frame a light color, like white, and your frame is dark, use a white primer.

    Wait for each coat of primer to dry. Time might vary depending on the type of primer but refer to the instructions on the can if you are unsure.

    After applying both layers, let your frame sit and dry for a few hours or overnight. Once your primer is completely dry, gently sand the frame with a fine-grit sandpaper. Don't sand away the primer; rather, just eliminate any stuck-on particles from the priming process. Wipe down the frame with a dry rag to remove any remaining dust.

    Apply the paint in even, thin coats. Use two coats of your desired paint color, letting each coat dry completely before applying the next. Note that some colors and types of paint require more coats than others. So use your judgment to achieve full coverage on the frame.

    Spray painting a mirror frame
    The Spruce / Caylin Harris
  5. Hang Your Mirror

    Before the paint dries and without touching the edges of the frame, remove the painter's tape from around the edges of the frame. Be sure to hold the newspaper so that it does not fall and touch the wet frame. Don't wait until the paint dries because it can adhere to the tape and then pull a chunk of paint off of the frame. Pull the tape off at an angle and away from the surface to ensure a clean line. Once it is fully dry, reattach any hardware and your brand new looking mirror is ready to be displayed in your home.

    Revealing the mirror after painting the frame
    The Spruce / Caylin Harris