How to Whitewash a Picture Frame: Step-by-Step Makeover Tutorial

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My sister recently moved into a new apartment and she’s hunting for cool decorative items. She dug through her trunks and boxes of old stuff and found this wooden picture frame. The wood carving was quite delicate, but she found the black and gold colors outdated. It did not match her new home decorating style. Now, onto how to whitewash a picture frame!

I decided to give this small wooden frame a new whitewash look. Using a gray base for whitewashing.

Supply List

1. Prepping the frame

First, I gave the wood frame a good clean using a damp wash cloth and let it dry for a few hours.

2. Applying an undercoat

For this makeover, I used gray chalk paint. After the first coat of paint, I found the gray color too dark. So, I decided to mix gray paint with white paint before applying the second coat.

Picture frame after first coat of paint
After the first coat of paint

I was satisfied with the lighter gray. Two coats of paint were enough to obtain complete coverage of the former black and gold coloring. No need for a third coat!

Applying second coat of paint on the picture frame
Light gray over the first coat of dark gray

I let it dry for a couple of hours before starting to whitewash.

3. Light sanding for a better adhesion

After the paint has dried completely, I lightly sanded the frame using a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. Then, I used a piece of tack cloth to remove any sanding dust. Here is the result after the second coat.

after two coats of paint

4. Whitewashing the Picture Frame

I wanted a thin application, so I mixed equal parts of white paint and water.

I applied the watered-down paint with a brush, and I went over it right away with a cotton cloth. The technique was amazingly easy.

Picture frame after after applying white paint
Here is the result after applying white paint and wiping off excess paint with a cloth.

Since I sanded a little too hard on the left side, I added some more gray paint using a small brush.

4. (optional) Adding a top sealing coat

To seal the piece, I decided to use Clear Paste Wax. I used a lint-free cloth to apply wax all over the frame. I allowed the wax to dry for about 2-3 hours and then buff the wax with a clean, lint-free cloth. One coat of wax was enough.

Frame details after makeover
carvings after makeover

5. Adding new glass to the picture frame

The old frame was missing protective glass and hardware on the back for hanging. To add a new glass to the whitewashed picture frame, I stripped the glass from one we purchased in a dollar store more than 20 years ago. The idea was to swap the glass.

Finding new glass

The glass was too large. If it’s not a perfect square or rectangle, always make a template. Especially if the frame is old. Angles may look straight but they are rarely a perfect 90 degrees. Trust me! We didn’t use a template on the first try and the resulting piece of glass did not fit. We had to find a new piece of glass and cut again.

If you don’t want / can’t cut the glass yourself, you can purchase a pre-cut or specially cut piece of glass.

Then, we cut the back to the same size as the glass. This part was easier. We used the new glass as a template. The frame back that comes with the glass was an MDF board. We simply used a hand saw to cut the piece.

Cutting the picture frame back with hand saw
Cutting the frame back with a hand saw

I cleaned the new glass and installed it into the frame. I also installed a new hanger on the back of the frame (sorry, no picture, and the frame already left for my sister’s place). Since the frame is small and light, I attached a single small triangle hanger on the back of the frame:

FIOTOK 100Pack Small Triangle D-Ring Picture Frame Hangers Single Hole with Screws for Hanging Paintings Artwork Picture Frame Hook Photos, Wall Mounting Home Decoration Hanging(Golden)

How to whitewash a picture frame: the result!

Here is the final makeover! My sister loved how it looks! I will share another photo once my sister has placed a picture inside the frame.

New art frames are usually quite expensive. But the good news is, you can buy them cheap at your local thrift store. At my store, it costs $1-$2 for a small size one, $2 – $5 for a medium size.  Revamping vintage frames are easy and cheap DIY projects.  

My recycled picture frame safely arrived at my sister’s place. It is now hanging on her guest bedroom wall!

In less than one hour and with some chalk paint, you can give an old picture frame a whole new look!

Pin it for later !

Happy makeover!


2 thoughts on “How to Whitewash a Picture Frame: Step-by-Step Makeover Tutorial”

  1. It’s so amazing to see what you did! I have a few old pictures which I found a few days ago at the basement and I intend to hang around my living room.

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