Monday, July 25, 2011

Acid Wash Mirror Tutorial

Acid washed mirrors have peeked up here and there around the DIY world and decorating and I just loved their look and wanted to attempt my own DIY version of one. 
I fell in love with Anthropologie's set of antiqued mirrors but with their extreme price tag {$770!} I was inspired to create my own.  There are a small handful of tutorials in the blogger world, one of the best was by Vintage Revivals {of course! everything she makes is perfection}.
The effect of the acid on the mirror is art itself, so a simple backdrop is all you need.. but I took it one step further and did a second piece of art for the backdrop so this tutorial is two-fold.
Heads up: This is a picture-heavy tutorial.

The Mirror Tutorial:
What you'll need:
Mirror {typical ones from thrift stores are great ones to use for this}
Neoprene Gloves {seriously, get chemical safe ones}
Paint remover {don't go for the cheapest otherwise this will be an all day project}
Old Shirt or rags
Muratic Acid
Chemical approved spray bottle
Possibly a plastic scraper {if your mirror as a stubborn streak like mine}
Have your hose nearby for easy cleaning

First I picked up a thrifty store find at Goodwill and started with my blank slate.

{$2.99 dust and all}

Then I removed the felt backing... 
I let it sit outside in the 100+degree sun for 5 minutes and peeled right off
Next step is the paint stripping phase:

Layer on the paint remover, but BE CAREFUL either use an old paint brush you can toss away {it'll most likely be ruined from the paint remover}, or a rag to ensure the whole back of the mirror gets covered.

I did this on a 100+ degree day... {not the smartest} because layer one just pretty much evaporated. No bubbles {as it should}, no paint removal, just some slight smears.  It's supposed to sit on your mirror for about 5-10 minutes and if you're lucky bubble up for easy removal.

So, I went back over it with ample amount of paint remover,
determined to not be outsmarted by heat & my mirror in round two.

SUCCESS! Those bubbles are exactly what you want to see for easy removal and should be good to start wiping down after about 5 to 10 minutes.
Hints: You're looking to just remove that silver layer, and not scratch the mirror.  Try to remove the paint with your rag first, and if you need to gently use a plastic scrapper to remove the remainder.
WARNING: I seriously cannot stress enough to wear gloves, do this in a well ventilated area, and be careful.  As I was working I felt this sharp stinging pain on my leg and let out a yelp thinking to myself {Are you kidding! Did I seriously just get stung while doing this!?} ... Nope, as I looked down I noticed a teeny tiny amount of the paint remover landed on my leg, and it was BURNING.
Luckily I was able to run to water access quickly and wash it off.

After you get the desired amount of paint off, I washed with a quick rinse of water and washed my gloves before moving onto the next step.

Next is the Muratic Acid, this is what will remove the reflection layer of the mirror.  You'll find Muratic Acid in the same section at Lowe's or Home Depot as all the paint removers, and it comes in quite a large bottle so plenty to use for future projects too ;)
Carefully pour the acid into a chemical approved spray bottle.

As you can see I didn't bother with removing all the paint during the previous step.  One because I got antsy to move along and two I wanted to see what that effect would end up as.

Spray down the mirror, keeping in mind the amount and spots you spray will be what ends up being clear.

This will be good after about a minute to wipe down, again with a rag or old t-shirt. 
Afterwards, rinse with water and wash your gloves.
WARNING: Just as with the paint remover, be careful with the Muratic Acid, luckily none of this ended up on me.. but I'd imagine it wouldn't feel good either.


Here's when you can could just place the mirror back into your painted frame in the color of your choice, and set a piece of paper, fabric, whatever you desire behind it.  For a true antique appearance a solid black, or red color behind it gives a GREAT look.

Stenciled Backdrop Tutorial:
Here's what I did:
DecoArt sent me a huge bundle of art goodies a bit ago and I've been dying to use some of their products for a project. 
I'm loving this stencil and to go with the colors of my master bedroom I used an yellow acrylic paint, and their fabric medium to better adhere to the fabric.
Once I stenciled it out, I felt the drastic color and stencil was a bit much against the acid wash of the mirror so I layered one more layer of DecoArt's paint in grey.


I just stapled this to the cardboard backing that was with the frame and was ready to assemble.

While doing all these steps I had primed and painted the frame in a glossy white paint too.

My {gorgeous} result:

Has this decor craze hit your house yet? Let me know if you've done your own Anthropologie inspired project or acid mirrors!


  1. Very neat! I didn't really see where this was going until I saw the final product. Looks great!

  2. Looks great and creative. Now as your mom please wear protective clothing and goggles- I don't want to be called from the emergency room.

  3. I am visiting via Today's Creative Blog.

    This is a fantastic project! Thank you for sharing.

    Happy Tuesday!

  4. What a great project! I really love how it turned out. I'm always intimidated by these projects that involve muratic acid! That stuff is costic!

    Now Following!

    ~Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage

  5. very cool technique, that is just my style!

  6. I did the same to my mirror. I didn't think to use a chemical approved spray bottle. Now, I better go search for my little bottle. Your mirror turn out nice. Your stencil adds a little something extra.

  7. Wonderful!! I would love to try this. I am pinning it for future reference. I never see mirrors at out Goodwill for $2.99!!

  8. THat is so cool Pamela!! I love it!! :D

  9. Pamela this is awesome! It looks great!!

    Hope you've been sleeping better at night! :)

  10. WOW! I love this. Very creative. I'd love if you would join us over at Sew Woodsy and link this project up!

  11. Love, love LOVE this!! Thanks for sharing the tutorial! I featured you today in my Friday I'm In Love Favorites!!

    Jenn @ Social Salutations

  12. Wow! This mirror turned out FANTASTIC. I'm searching my house to find a mirror I can try this technique on. Featuring you at Blogland's Fabulous Friday Finds!

  13. This was great! I to wanted those mirrors from Anthro but not at that price :-/
    If I was a tad more brave I'd take on this for the Pinterest challenge! Good luck with your project by the way. I'm sure it will turn out great!!

  14. Nice finished project. But 1)our thrift store mirrors are never that cheap--they're usually in the neighborhood of about $20+ and up 2)all the chemicals needed for this project are not all that cheap 3)this is labor intensive and caustic. Still, I gotta say your end product is lovely! I give you two thumbs up for your perseverance to this task.

  15. jerri said on my list to do this weekenf thanks for the great tutorial"

  16. Hope you used SAFETY GLASSES/GOGGLES.......YIKES!!

    Nice job......but a bit scary to do....... love the end result, though!!:)

  17. i have done several acid wash mirrors with the fabric, they are beautiful! i found the brighter and bolder the fabric the prettier the mirror is.

  18. Great tutorial. I've been looking for a tutorial on this after seeing a segment on the Nate Berkus show. Looks great.

  19. Help..I followed the directions and the paint never budged off the mirror. I used plenty of paint remover ...3 coats over 1 hour and nothing. I even tried muriac acid and the paint/coating on the back of the mirror didn't even bubble. Tried a heat gun..nothing. Tried oven cleaner (desperate times call for desperate measures) and still nothing. It's a new mirror from Home Depot - had in cut in several sizes. My neighbor, who has already made these mirrors, was stumped. We think it's the coating on the back was gray and her mirrors had a black coating. Anyone else have any problems or solutions?

  20. I can't wait to try this! I have a small antique mirror that I just love and I've always wanted another very large one- but you are right; when you look at the cost of repro's its just too pricey. Thanks for the tips! Sandra W.


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