DIY Acid-Washed Mirror

After finishing the wainscotting in our dining room, I began searching for art for either side of the room. I imagined large-scale art on one side and a large mirror on the other. I found an 'acid-washed' mirror on Etsy and a few other sites like Anthropologie & CB2 that looked stunning- but I didn't want to pay the thousands that they cost. So after researching how to give the mirror a similar look, I figured it sounded simple enough & tested the process on an old mirror I already had. I LOVED it! I then looked for a basic mirror in the size I wanted and decided I would DIY my own version. I ran into many road bumps on that second mirror but mistakes are the best way to learn and I can now say this is a DIY anyone can do- and it can actually be really fun! So let's get into it!



WHAT YOU'LL NEED:

Optional:

  • Plastic wrap to speed up the CitriStrip process

  • Heat Gun if your mirror has a protective film on the back (some large mirrors tend to have this for safety if it shatters, mine did!)


What I'm doing will make more sense if you understand how mirrors are put together. A mirror is essentially a piece of glass with a reflective/mirrored coating on the back. So although the front and back of the mirror should look no different, you can tell which is the front by pressing your finger against it- if there's a space between your finger and the reflective part then that's the front of the mirror. To protect that reflective coating, paint is applied to the back (often a few coats) on top of the reflective coating. To get the 'acid-washed' look I'm going for, we are removing the paint from the back and then strategically removing part of the reflective coating!


This entire process involves the back of the mirror- nothing is done to the front.


STEP 1: Remove Mirror or Protective Film

Every mirror will be different, but if you're able to remove the mirror from the frame it will make the process easier. For this particular mirror there was a protective 'explosion proof' film on the back so I had to remove that before getting started. Keep in mind most mirrors won't have this so unless you buy this particular mirror or another oversized one, you'll probable be skipping this step. Carefully score the edges with a sharp razor and start peeling it off- a heat gun will speed up this process if you have one handy but it really wasn't too difficult to do without one.




If you're unable to remove the mirror from the frame, apply tape to the frame to protect it before proceeding to the next steps.



STEP 2: Apply Paint Stripper

Next we'll apply the CitriStrip! It's gooey so don't worry that it doesn't look perfect, but you want to make sure the whole mirror has a thick enough coating and doesn't dry out through the process. This will take at least an hour, depending on how many layers of paint were applied and could take many hours. To held speed up this process a bit you could wrap the mirror in plastic wrap, but I haven't done it myself. My smaller mirror took a little over an hour to remove the paint while my larger mirror took closer to 4 hours.



STEP 3: Remove Paint Layer

When the paint starts to look like...well, an alien ball sac....you know it's ready! Wait until the whole thing to looks shriveled like this & it will be MUCH quicker + easier to remov the 'goop'. This part is messy! Use a plastic putty knife making sure not to scrape too hard so you don't scratch the mirror, and discard the mess.




After removing it all, wipe down the mirror with paper towels. I also used windex to clean it off before the next step!


STEP 4: Apply Bleach Mixture

Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mixture of water/bleach. The higher the concentration of bleach, the faster it will work but once the reflective part of the mirror is gone, it's gone forever. I recommend starting with 50/50 and then increasing bleach if you feel comfortable.



I start by spraying the entire mirror, focusing on the outsides (basically drenching the edges of the mirror in the mixture), then wiping it all off after maybe 10 minutes. Be creative! Spray a light mist, thicker droplets, or focus the mixture in certain areas to make it look unique. EVERY mirror will turn out different! You can flip over the mirror to see how it's looking from the front as you go.

Continue this process of spraying then wiping down until you're happy with the look, and then you're ready for paint!

This is how mine looked before painting.



Step 5: Paint

This step is optional but I wanted to 'warm up' my mirror with browns, gold and some black. You can use any colors you want and as much or little of each. I started by applying Rub n' Buff in European Gold with an old makeup brush to small areas. Then I painted the entire thing a mix of burnt umber and black, focusing black all around the edges. I found that I liked the look of it applied with a sponge best, but you can use a brush too!

I only did one coat of paint so that when the sun hits it, it almost shines through the glass showing all the golds and browns.


Step 6: Replace Mirror and/or Film

My mirror came with a film on the back, so I ordered new film off Amazon and applied it as a precaution. Because my mirror is so large, I used my own favorite drywall anchors and screws vs the ones that came with the mirror, I typically don't tryst the hardware that comes with heavy things you want to hang!




LINKS TO EVERYTHING


I hope that was helpful, I'd love to see your results if you try!!

Xx, Lauren