How to Paint Picture Frames

How to Paint Picture Frames

Learn how to paint picture frames and make them new again. Give old, outdated frames a fresh new look with paint and fun embellishments.

Prickly Pear Pink

This whole project was inspired by one of Dixie Belle’s newest Silk paint colors called Prickly Pear.

Dixie Belle was kind enough to send me several colors from their new Desert Colors Silk Series recently, and while they are all beautiful, I nearly swooned when I opened the box and pulled out this vibrant pink paint.

(Note: Dixie Belle’s new Desert Series colors will be available on their website on February 9!)

I am partnering with the Dixie Belle Paint Company for this post. Paint and supplies were generously provided to me by Dixie Belle, but all ideas and creations are my own.

How to Paint Picture Frames using Dixie Belle's Silk Prickly Pear.  What kind of paint to use on picture frames.

I mean, pink is my favorite color… and it is approaching Valentine’s Day…. and I do have a new baby granddaughter…

All reasons to create something to feature this bright and sassy Prickly Pear pink!

Coincidentally, my daughter had just sent me all the beautiful pictures from baby Evie’s newborn photo shoot.

As soon as I saw the photos, I knew I was going to need some more picture frames.

A lot more picture frames…

And you know what? Pictures frames are expensive these days.

Even if you wait to get them for 50% off at Hobby Lobby, you’re likely to spend at least 10 bucks apiece.

Lucky for me, I had a bunch of old picture frames stored in the basement from when my children were small.

Unlucky for me, most of them were dusty, outdated, and ugly.

How to Paint Old Picture Frames. 
How to paint a metal picture frame.
How to paint a wood frame.
How  to  paint a plastic picture frame.

And if you don’t already have old frames, you can almost always find some just like these for a buck or so each at thrift stores, or even the dollar store.

With some paint, some craft store embellishments, and a little bit of creativity, you can make old picture frames fabulous again!

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How to Paint Picture Frames

1. Disassemble

Begin by carefully removing the back and the glass from the frames.

Most frames come all apart, but you may have a couple like I did that won’t completely disassemble.

That’s okay, simply use blue painter’s tape to protect the parts where you don’t want paint.

2. Clean

Since we are working with old and possibly dusty frames in this project, you will want to clean the frames really well before painting.

For this project, I sprayed down each frame with Dixie Belle’s Pristine Clean, allowed it to sit a minute, and then wiped it off with a paper towel to make sure I had a nice, clean surface to work with.

For the glass, I used Perfect Glass, which has been my go-to window cleaner for years. It’s streak-free every time.

3. Prep

Pay attention to the type of material your frames are made from.

Some of my frames were wood, which will hold the paint well on its own, but some of my frames were a very smooth plastic or metal.

How to paint a metal or plastic picture frame?

Dixie Belle makes a great product called Slick Stick, that helps your paint adhere to slick surfaces such as these.

Dixie Belle Slick Stick works great paiting plastic frames and metal frames.  How to Paint Picture Frames.

Simply smooth it on as a base coat, and allow it to dry overnight. Then, you’re all set for paint!

4. Paint

What kind of paint to use on picture frames?

For this project, I used Dixie Belle Chalk Mineral Paint, as well as paint from Dixie Belle’s Silk line. Both worked equally well.

Because I had several frames to paint, I had so much fun trying out several of the beautiful Dixie Belle paint colors.

Choosing paint colors

If you plan to display your frames together as a grouping, consider selecting paint colors that complement each other.

For my frames, I selected a variety of similar neutrals, with a pop of fun color on just a couple of the frames.

Since I wanted these photos for holding pictures of baby girl Evelynn, using some of the pink shades was a perfect choice.

Plus, these pink colors also made frames that are lovely to set out for Valentine’s Day home decor. 💕

What type of brush do I need for DIY Painting Picture Frames?

Choosing the correct brush for the job is important. Because these frames are not large, I didn’t need a big honkin’ brush.

Dixie Belle makes several smaller-sized brushes that are perfect for tasks like this one. Their small round brush worked great for most of my frames.

How to Paint Picture Frames, using chalk paint on a wood frame.  DIY painting picture frames.
How to Paint Picture Frames.  DIY Painting Picture frames.  Paint  picture frame ideas.

For my smallest, heart-shaped frame, the glass was not removable, so an artist’s brush was ideal to delicately paint the frame without getting any on the glass.

(I buy them in bulk so I always have the size I need on hand.)

5. Embellish

After your paint has dried for several hours (I let mine dry overnight), it’s time to think about embellishments that will add interesting details to your frames.

Painted Picture Frame Ideas

This frame started out as several shades of brown. After some Slick Stick primer and a couple of coats of Dixie Belle’s Silk paint in Oyster, it was already looking so much better.

The finishing touch was using some brown Best Dang Wax, and working it into the pretty details of the frame to highlight them.

How to Paint Picture Frames.  How to paint a picture frame to make it look vintage with wax.

How to Paint a Picture Frame to Make it Look Vintage

The easiest way to paint a picture frame and make it look vintage is to distress it. You can accomplish this by either adding paint, or taking it away.

Take paint away by lightly sanding your frame with a fine-grit sanding sponge to remove little bits of paint here and there, focusing on the edges where natural wear would occur (you can see this method used on my Vintage Magazine Rack Upcycle).

Add paint by using a small brush to highlight ridges, crevices, and interesting details on your frames.

Attaching Details to Your Frames

There are also so many things you could attach to your frames to make them unique and one-of-a-kind.

For this fun “key to my heart” photo frame, I used woodcraft keys and painted them with Dixie Belle’s Bronze Gilding Wax to give them an antiqued look.

How to Paint Picture Frames.
How to paint a picture frame to make it look vintage.
Dixie Belle's bronze Gilding wax

Then, I just hot glued them to the photo mat that came with the frame.

For a little bit more interest, I then used an art brush and added some more Gilding Wax into the ridges around the frame.

How to Paint Picture Frames,  How to paint a picture frame to make it look vintage.
This baby definitely holds the key to my heart.

More Picture Frame Ideas

I decided to make one of my frames work specifically for Valentine’s Day decor.

For this frame, I used the beautiful new Prickly Pear color and gave the old oak frame two coats of vibrant pink.

Then, I used craft Scrabble tiles to spell out the word “LOVE” and just hot glued them right on the edge of the frame.

How to Paint Picture Frames,
Paint picture frame ideas using Scrabble tiles.

So easy, but so adorable.

I loved it so much, I did another frame the same way, using Tea Rose pink this time.

How to Paint Picture Frames.
DIY paiting picture frames.
Paint picture frame ideas.
“Poppy” is the nickname that I gave baby Evelynn back when she was still just the size of a poppyseed in the womb. This frame will be perfect for the desk in my office.

This beautiful frame is painted with Dixie Belle’s Endless Shore Silk paint, and embellished with pearly sticker strips from Hobby Lobby.

Hard to believe it started out looking this, don’t you think?

How to Paint Picture Frames
Paint wood frames.

6. Display

How to Paint Picture Frames.
DIY picture frame ideas.

I created a display with my painted frames on the vintage buffet I bought last fall. (Yes, it’s still waiting for its makeover as soon as the weather warms up enough to work outside again.)

With the addition of a fluffy faux fur table runner and some pretty pink flowers, it’s a beautiful way to showcase our sweet grandbaby’s photos.

Plus, it works perfectly for meaningful Valentine’s Day decor. I mean, what better way to decorate for Valentine’s Day than to create a display of people you love? 💕

Final Thoughts on How to Paint Picture Frames

Upcycles like this are my favorite kind of projects!

When you paint your own picture frames, you save money, you save junk from the landfills, and you get to create your own custom frames to perfectly suit your purpose or home decor.

And because this upcycle is all about picture frames, the pièce de résistance is that you get to fill your frames with photos of your favorite people. 💕

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Shop for the Dixie Belle supplies used in this post:

DIY “Trash to Treasure” Challenge!

Decorate and More with Tip

Bluesky at Home

The House House

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Patina and Paint

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Cloches and Lavender


24 thoughts on “How to Paint Picture Frames

  1. I love this project and post. I also have a box full of old frames that really need a makeover. I will be looking for that bright pink paint and those pearl stickers were a wonderful idea. Thanks so much for sharing the inspiration. #HomeMattersParty

  2. I love those painted frames! The idea of using the keys is the cutest! Your sweet grandbaby is just so precious – an answer to prayer 🙂

  3. Niky, picture frames are one of the best trash to treasure items at garage sales and flea markets. I have rescued and painted many in my day. Love your display – with that new baby granddaughter, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to paint frames.

  4. Such an endearing display of Poppy. I love how each frame is different yet they all compliment each other. I never thought to embellish frames before. Not sure which one I love more. Now I am thinking of my excess frames I was going to donate-Christmas gift ideas, hmmm.

  5. Oh my word! These turned out so cute! I seriously have never thought to paint a picture frame, but this is a great idea. And I will definitely have to look into dixie bell paint because I have heard amazing things about it.

  6. Your frames are beautiful, Niky! And your granddaughter! Oh my goodness how precious is she?! I recently dug up some old frames when I was organizing our basement. Was going to throw them out but now you’ve inspired me to give them new life! Thanks for sharing so many great ideas!

  7. Oh my, Niky! How sweet and adorable! Congrats on your new grandbaby! What a great idea to upcycle old frames into new ones! And the colors and design styles you chose are perfect to show off the cutest grandbaby ever!

  8. Niky your frames turned out so well. I love the colors – the baby in the photo’s is pretty cute too! I’ve a huge drawer full of photos that need an update and you’ve given me the inspiration to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

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