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How to Paint Picture Frames | Repaint Photo Frames

Updated on September 18, 2013

By Natasha Hoover


Repainting Picture Frames

You know those picture frames you find at garage sales and thrift stores (or your own closet) that would be great "if?" Well, it is easy to overcome a 1970s paint scheme, chipping paint, or strange paint color by simply repainting them, yourself.

Lately, I have seen shabby chic items popping up all over the Internet. My chosen style is not quite shabby chic because I have used both pastel and vivid blues, instead of the traditional whites, but I love the way it looks. I decided to pull the frames out, repaint them and put them to use holding some of my favorite photographs. The project is amazingly quick, easy, and inexpensive - I wholeheartedly recommend trying it instead of throwing away old frames and buying new ones.

Click thumbnail to view full-size

Prepare the Picture Frames for Repainting

First, remove any old prints, photos, etc. and the glass from the frames. Then, use some medium grit sandpaper on the frames to scuff them up a little so the paint will stick. After that, wipe them off with a damp paper towel to remove the bits of sanded frame and loose grit. Next, paint them white using a primer. If you do not already have primer sitting around, I recommend using white craft paint.

Waxing picture frame edges
Waxing picture frame edges | Source

After the white base coat dries, rub wax along the frame's edges. I used a tea light candle, but any type of wax will work. Doing this allows you to easily remove some of the top layer of paint, exposing the base coat and giving that well-worn look.

Use a sponge brush to avoid unsightly brush strokes
Use a sponge brush to avoid unsightly brush strokes | Source

Repaint the Picture Frame

Next, I painted the frames using the same blue paint featured in my DIY wall art tutorial, but you can use any color or type of paint you like. For a project like this, it is best to use a foam brush to ensure an even, brushstroke-free application of paint. Also, remember that applying several light layers of paint is better than slapping on one thick layer. The color application is smoother and the paint does not run down the edges and cracks when you apply several thin layers of paint. Just remember to allow the paint to dry thoroughly between each coat!

Repainted picture frame
Repainted picture frame | Source

Finish the Picture Frame

After the final coat of blue dries, use the fine grit sandpaper one last time to carefully buff the wax off in order to reveal the white base coat underneath.

In only a few hours, mostly spend waiting between coats of paint, you can transform boring, unused frames into something fun that matches the rest of your décor. I already owned everything I needed for the project, but even if you had to buy all the supplies (except the frames) you could easily do it for $3, or less, because acrylic craft paints and foam brushes can be purchased for less than $1 apiece.

Shabby Chic Plastic Picture Frames

I know it sounds cheesy, but my motto is "perfectly imperfect" when it comes to projects like this. If you want something that looks factory robot perfect, head to the store. If you want something as funky and unique as you, pick up a paint brush and get going! I love my new frames and can't believe they're simple plastic frames I picked up for about a dollar.


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    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks and I hope you enjoy!

    • Toytasting profile image

      Toy Tasting 

      6 years ago from Mumbai

      A Great DIY idea. Thank you for sharing this. I am surely going to try this over the weekend.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      You can even use this technique on furniture!

      It's amazing how much difference some paint can make. You can take something from looking old and dated to new and fresh in just a few minutes! Thanks for stopping in and i'm gad you enjoyed my hub.

    • Jean-ette profile image


      6 years ago

      Add Your Comment..

      I was thinking of painting all my old frames. I have so many that are outdated. Thanks for the information, I didn't know about the wax to scuff them up and would never have thought of a tea light. Looking forward to doing this project now!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      It's really cool how easy it is and how it produces such neat results! Thanks for stopping in.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      6 years ago from United States

      Glad to learn that trick w/wax. Thanks!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you - I'm glad you find it easy to follow!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Great hub on painting frames. Good and complete instructions for me. Thanks for sharing.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Hawaii

      That is a good idea - it could defiantly be used to keep a narrow area the base color! Thanks for the suggestion.

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Another great hub! I don't use the distressed look very much, but the wax tip is great to know. It would be a convenient way of keeping paint off of very narrow edges that need to remain the base color. Voted up!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      I try very, very hard not to visit those places unless I'm looking for a specific thing. Otherwise, I'd have an entire house full of random stuff because it's too easy to find fantastic things! Especially if you're willing to put forth a little bit of effort.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      7 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great Hub. Great Suggestions. You probably already do this, too, but I pick up all kinds of wonderful frames at the Good Will and Salvation Army stores and they are incredibly inexpensive. Some need painting and refurbishing, some don't...they just look like elegant frames that have been in the family for awhile. :)

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks, kjzeek1 - I'm glad you enjoyed it and I appreciate the vote!

    • kjrzeek1 profile image


      7 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Great Idea. My wife is always looking for new ideas to change the look in the house. up!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow! Thank you for all the votes - I really appreciate it. I'm glad you found this hub enjoyable.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub. You are very creative. Thanks for share with us. I hope we can renew everything around us to be more attractive and beautiful. Good job and voted up (useful, awesome, beautiful, interesting).


    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!

    • Brandym2012 profile image


      7 years ago from PA

      Thank you for sharing this article. I am always looking to redecorate around the home. A lot of wonderful information provided.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii


      I was talking to someone just the other day who said a frame he didn't like would keep him from buying an item. As long as you have a plan of some sort, you can easily "fix" whatever you don't like about an item that is the right price or that you otherwise do want. Glad to know I'm not the only one doing this!

    • jbosh1972 profile image


      7 years ago from Indianapolis, IN. USA

      Honestly, many times repainting something is all that is needed. I bought a mirror for $1 at a garage sale, took out the glass, spray painted it pink, and put it in my 7 year old daughters room. She uses it to put on her earings.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Wow, thanks for all the votes! This is why I love HubPages. I tell coworkers about my crafting ideas and they give me funny looks. I create my projects and report on them here and people clearly empathize!

    • lindacee profile image

      Linda Chechar 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Fun Hub! I just love re-purposing items from around the house. Your idea for giving picture frames a new life is right up my alley! Now, where did I stash those craft paints? :) Voted UP, useful and awesome!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks - you're comment made me smile!

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 

      7 years ago from Northeastern United States

      Perfectly imperfect is just my style! Great hub.

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it!

    • Marc Babineau profile image

      Marc Babineau 

      7 years ago from Cornwall, Ontario, The Seaway City

      Lots of great info for someone on a budget, or the recycling responsible...

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Excellent! You never have to worry about your things matching if you make them match.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      7 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I also do this! I buy frames at yard sales and paint to the color of my choice. Excellent hub with easy directions to follow!

    • Natashalh profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Hawaii

      Thank you!

    • emilybee profile image


      7 years ago

      This is great - an easy way to pop some color into the room! Will have to share this.


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