How to Create Old Mirrors

Updated July 20, 2017

Old mirrors do not reflect crisp images, but have a hazy, golden shade and may have splotchy segments that are darker than the rest of the mirror. Mirrors at this stage are romantic art pieces that can add character to a room, such as a library or hallway. An old mirror does not need to serve a practical purpose, but can stand alone as decor. You can mimic the ageing process by stripping the paint from the back of the mirror and painting on a new finish to give the mirror a distorted, sepia-toned antique look.

Cover your work area with a tarp or dust sheet. Open windows and doors to air out the room as you work. Fill a bucket with water and place a kitchen sponge and a rag inside. Put on protective eyewear and thick rubber gloves.

Cut off the paper backing of a new mirror, running a razorblade around the edges to separate it from the frame. Remove the paper. Take out any staples attached to the back of the mirror frame, using pliers. Cover the back of the frame with clear plastic packing tape.

Spray a layer of paint thinner onto the back of the mirror to coat. After 15 minutes, the paint should start bubbling. Scrape off the paint with the paint scraper. Wring out the rag from the bucket of water and wipe the back of the mirror. Let the mirror dry.

Apply patina ageing solution to a second kitchen sponge. Wipe the sponge onto the back of the mirror to corrode the mirror's silver leafing, stopping before the patina solution eats through the leafing completely. When you have covered the back of the mirror with patina, rub the first wet kitchen sponge from the bucket of water onto the back of the mirror to stop any further corrosion of the leafing. Allow the mirror to dry.

Paint the back of the mirror with at least four layers of gold paint; wait until the previous layer dries before applying the next layer.


Do not attempt to use the chemicals without wearing protective eye equipment and thick gloves.

Things You'll Need

  • Tarp or cloth
  • Safety goggles
  • Thick rubber gloves
  • Mirror
  • Razor blade
  • Pliers
  • Clear plastic packing tape
  • Paint stripper
  • Paint scraper
  • Patina ageing solution
  • Damp rag
  • 2 sponges
  • Bucket
  • Paintbrush
  • Gold paint
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