How to Silver Leaf a Mirror Frame

4 years ago

Have you ever tried silver or gold foil? Also called silver leaf, it's an easy and dynamic way to bring some shine and texture to your next makeover. I've seen it used on furniture, in art and on crafts—and today I'm going to show you how to silver leaf a mirror frame.

This can be done on any frame, actually, and you only need a few supplies.

  • Mirror or picture frame
  • Silver leaf, or gold if you prefer
  • Leaf adhesive or a decoupage adhesive
  • Light paint brush, small sponge paint brush
  • Sealant


Here's the mirror I used for this project. I scored it at a flea market for only $5, and decided it would be perfect for our current basement bathroom remodel.

Prep Your Frame

First, get your frame ready by taping around the inside of the frame where it meets the mirror. This is to prevent any silver leaf getting on the mirror. Since my mirror already had paint on it that was chipping off, I ended up sanding the old paint off, so that the leaf would adhere nicely.

Apply the Glue

Craft stores sell special leaf adhesive, but I knew it was pretty much the same as decoupage glue, so I used what I had. I'm always trying to save a few bucks when I do projects. No need to spend money on unnecessary supplies.

The foil comes in packages with thin tissue between each leaf. Use a piece of wax paper to "separate" the foil from the tissue—the foil will connect to the wax paper via static. Then you have a piece all ready to go on your frame.

When you have your foil ready, brush the glue onto a section of the frame with a small paintbrush. Here, you can see the glue on the frame where it is shiny (far left).

Apply the Leaf

Carefully place the leaf onto the frame where you have applied the glue. Here is where it can get frustrating. It's rare that the foil will do what you want it to do. This stuff is so light that it floats in the air, and it kind of has a mind of its own.

Do the best you can to get it on the frame smoothly, remembering you can always patch it up later. Use the light brush to smooth it onto the frame. Once the foil is stuck to the glue, pull back your wax paper—and voila! You have completed your first piece.

Notice it's not perfect? So you know what to expect, again, it's rare that the leaf will go on nice and smooth. That just seems to be the nature of the foil. But work with it, and I promise you'll still have a beautiful project in the end.

Have Patience!

See how the leaf goes on wherever it wants? It's some finicky stuff, I tell you.

Continue to work your way all around the frame, and soon enough you'll have most of it covered. Then go back and apply more glue and leaf to cover the holes. You'll probably see some of the seams, but that's OK. I think it gives the piece character.

Add a Sealing Coat

After I got on as much leaf as possible, I lightly brushed on a coat of clear polycrylic to seal the whole thing. Silver leaf is delicate, so you want to protect it from wear and prevent it from coming off.

And here is my finished frame hung in the bathroom between our new lights on the plank wall.


See the cracks and seams in the finish? I love the way it looks against the rustic wood wall.

And it goes perfectly with the new lights and chrome faucet we installed the other week. After using a coupon for the leaf, this project only cost me about $12 total. Pretty good for a DIY project, right?

Come see all the projects in the bathroom remodel here and all of my projects here.

Will you try silver leaf in your next craft project?

Jessica @ Decor Adventures

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