DIY : Repairing A Chipped Plaster Mirror

September 28, 2011 05:58 by ehouston

I am sad to announce that 50% off Wednesday’s at the Salvation Army recently ended.  I don’t have any idea what the reason for the change was, but they have switched up their policies and only certain items are discounted on certain days.  What a bummer!  Oh well, I just need to figure out their new discounting program and then I can get back on the thrifting horse.  Anywhoo- just before the new policy went into place I was able to score an oval mirror in the perfect size for our powder room.  At $4.99 it was an absolute bargain, of course the bonus was that the price was another 50% off.  Yes, you read that correctly, I basically paid $2.50 for a large, beveled glass oval mirror.  I had been pricing these recently and the cheapest I had found was an okay wood-ish (I think it was probably some kind of plastic or resin) model at Lowe’s for around the 50 dollar mark. 


I was super excited at what I consider a total steal, but I have to be honest and share some of the not so pretty details.  This mirror had definitely seen better days. 


There were several areas that had missing plaster, serious gouges and plenty of chips. 



Even with all the blemishes I knew I could make this mirror pretty again and that it would be the right size for our powder room.  Right now that space houses a very large, somewhat ornate burnished gold toned rectangular mirror that has always seemed giant to me.


Although, I have never attempted fixing a plaster style frame before I knew I could at least make it look better.  The previous owners had applied paint to several spots in an effort to hide the chips, but I wanted to put the dimension back into the curves and I decided that wood filler might be the trick. 


I know this is not the proper way to restore a plaster mirror, but I also don’t believe this to be a high quality antique either.  It does have some pocking and streaks in the mirror silver, but I really don’t think that comes from a nice vintage, just serious wear and tear.  However, I do like those marks because they give the mirror a little history and charm.  At least in my eyes.



After applying thick clumps of wood filler to slightly dampened chips and gouges I left the mirror alone for about a week in order to thoroughly dry.  Wood filler is not meant to be applied in thick layers and often cracks and crumbles with it’s not done in thinner increments.  I guess I got lucky because we had a week of damp, rainy days and even though the mirror was indoors the whole time, I think the high humidity helped keep the serious cracks at bay.  Once the filler was dry I sanded those parts down, trying to match the curves up as much as possible.  Another thing to remember when working with wood filler is that it shrinks as it dries, so you want to apply more than you think you will need to get to the right height and width of the area you are trying to match.  I cleaned up my sanding mess, added a coat of primer and then a final coat of the same French Gray paint I used on the chair rail molding in the dining room. After all was said and done the really big chips seemed to disappear.  I will admit to rushing this one a bit because after painting and hanging it in place I noticed a few spots that I really should have sanded down some more.  Another tip from what I learned with this project is to re-inspect the filler after sanding AND wiping down.  I think the dust had settled a little too well in some spots leading me to believe that all the sanding was complete and level.   However, once I started painting I noticed a less seamless appearance than I would have liked.  One saving grace is that I opted to leave some of the other cracks and chips that were not a part of the major problem areas.  Again, I did not want to take away from the original finish to much and in the end I think it helps to disguise my not-so-perfect sanding job.



I think the addition of the blue-gray in this space adds a nice, although subtle, pop of color in this otherwise taupe and cream powder room.  Also, I am not sure if it’s because I am so used to the size of the old mirror, but the new one seems so small now.  Eventually I plan to switch out the light fixture for something a bit more modern and I would love to add white bead board and top ledge molding to the walls.  So, I think once the other changes come around the new smaller oval mirror will look even better.  But, those are projects for another day.  In the meantime, I will accept the things I cannot change.  ;o)

Kitsch Krafts

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