Distressed Mirror Glass Tutorial

In my last post, I promised to give the details on how I made the Distressed Mirror Glass for the faux fireplace insert.

Here we go…

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I was first inspired by this Panorama Chandelier from West Elm


It has a really warm glow with just the right amount of bling.  I searched the web for “Distressed Mirror Glass” and “Mercury Glass” tutorials and found many different options for achieving this look.  Below is the option I choose.

Supply List

  • 1/2 sheet  1/2″ thick MDF
  • Clear replacement glass from Home Depot or Lowes
  • Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint Available at Michaels & Hobby Lobby
  • Black or Gold Acrylic Enamel Paint
  • Distilled Vinegar
  • Spray Bottle
  • Mirror clips (opt)
  • 1/2″ Self-tapping SPAX screws (opt)
  • Corner Braces (opt)
  • Paint (opt)
  • Primer (opt)

Distressed Mirror Glass Tutorial -2Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint

If you are not making the frame then the (opt) items are unnecessary.

I began by building the frame.

 I ripped my MDF on the tablesaw  into (3) 4″ wide strips and (1) 7″ wide strip.

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The length of the pieces are determined by the overall desired size of the frame.

I needed my frame to be 39″ l  x 29″ w to fit into the faux fireplace.

I cut (2) of the 4″ strips to 32″ , (1)  4″ board to 21″ and the 7″ board to 29″.

I drilled, glued and clamped my pocket holes on the backside of the frame.

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I let the glue dry for 2 hours then I sanded the front smooth using 220 grit sand paper.

Next it was time to prime.  I used Oil Based spray primer  because it dries quickly.

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After the first coat dried, I sanded with 220 grip sandpaper.

I followed up with 2 additional coats and made sure that the edges got a good soaking.

The edges of MDF are like cardboard so they love to soak up paint.  Sanding the edges after the first coat helps reduce this.

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I painted 2 coats of Behr Silky White and put the frame to the side.

I cleaned the glass and prepared to spray with the Looking Glass Spray Paint.

I’ve seen a few tutorials that said to spray the glass with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water first then spray several coats of looking glass paint.

I tried that and things didn’t work out very well.  This was not the look I was going for.

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I decided to spray the looking glass paint first then spritz the vinegar and water solution afterwards.

I sprayed about 8 coats of the Looking Glass spray paint letting it dry  one minute between coats.

It dries really fast like alcohol.

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4 coats of Looking Glass Spray Paint

Its very important for me to mention that handling this glass is very dangerous as the edges are EXTREMELY sharp and can cut you very badly.

I cut my finger when I took this photo and I was being very careful.

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Front of Glass

After 8 coats, you can’t even see through the glass.

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Back of Glass

I spritzed the solution onto the glass and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

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The Acetic Acid in the vinegar eats away at the spray paint.

Then I removed bits of it with a sea sponge in a random pattern.

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In some areas, I had to rub a little to reveal more of the clear glass.

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To  neutralize the acid, I rinsed the glass with clear water and let dry.

To give a bit of depth, I sprayed two more coats of paint.  At this point I’d gone through almost 3 cans of  paint.

If you desire more depth and contrast, this is the part where you would dab on gold and black enamel acrylic paint in the clear glass areas.  I did this but it was after the fact and I didn’t get a picture of the process.

I placed my frame face down on the table then placed the distressed mirror glass face down on top of the frame.

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I attached my mirror clips with the 1/2″ screws at the top and bottom of the frame.

Then I attached the corner brackets to the edges of the frame.

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I used a scrap block butted up against the outside edge of the frame to place the brackets perfectly.

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I secured the frame to the inside of the faux fireplace.

I inset the brackets by 2″ so that I could still use the plug in the wall behind it.

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With the candles and hurricanes in front it looks like authentic distressed mirror glass.

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I think my process of spraying the paint on in a good heavy coat helped give a more reflective finish.

So what do you think?  Does it make you want to go all distressed mirror glass on all your bare glassware? I know I do.

Signature Post


  1. Justine says

    I’m going to making a fake fire in our fireplace for the holidays with lights and candles and want to make this for the background. What was your water to vinegar mix ratio?

  2. Allison says

    Thank you so much! My hubby built a faux fireplace for the living room and ice been debating for weeks what to do to the inside of it! Going to get the supplies this week!!!

  3. Amanda says

    This tutorial worked great for me. I skipped the step where you rinse off the mirror with water. The solution seems to evaporate within a minute or so anyway.
    Thank you!

  4. Andrea says

    I tried this and when I got to the step where you rinse with water to neutralize the acid, all of the spray paint came off too :( How long did you let the glass dry before completing the vinegar and water step?

    • Ayisha says

      Andrea I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you. The paint only takes a minute to dry. When I rinsed with water, I spritzed the surface and blotted it up with paper towel. I did not rub or wipe the surface. I’m not certain the rinsing step is even necessary.
      I let my finished product dry for a few hours before I added my black paint to the back of the glass. I hope this helps!

  5. Gayla D'Gaia says

    Thank you, Ayisha. This looks beautiful and not too difficult. I appreciate your including tips about handling the glass. I am looking forward to doing this myself when I refurbish our fireplace insert.

  6. says

    Did you have a test piece of glass? Where did the glass come from, somewhere like Michaels or is there a better place to find it? It looks great! I love your inspiration piece too – I wonder if you’ll blog about the creative process of how a chandelier becomes a fireplace in your head :) At least for us non-creative types 😉

    • Ayisha says

      Hi Noel. As stated in the supply list, the glass came from Home Depot. I provided the link. The chandelier was the inspiration for the mirror insert not the fireplace in itself. The inspiration for the fireplace came from Ana-White which I mentioned in the fireplace post. The images can be found here.


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