A Quick + Easy Mirror Makeover Using Rub ‘N Buff

With all the muchlargerprojects on our plate as of late, it is extremely satisfying to check off a quick, (way) less-than-one-hour job. You saw in our closet plans that we’ll be hanging a mirror above the changing table, and being the vintage mirror hoarders that we are, we had plenty to choose from! For a hot second, I was somewhat tempted to pick up something frameless (I’ve always loved these), but instead, we dug through our own inventory in the attic and landed on a mirror that’s never had a space to call its own in this home. The oval shape will balance all the square corners in the closet, and although it’s cute as-is, it’s always had a slight greenish hue to it:

We’ll be adding this pretty unlacquered brass hardware to the changing table, so I wanted something with an equal amount of shine for this mirror, too. In this case, I decided to try Rub ‘n Buff for the first time, and ohmigoodness, why have I not used this miracle paste sooner? There are endless options for every shade of gold, bronze and silver, but in my mind, I suppose I thought it was used more for creating a shabby chic, antique-like look. While it can be used that way, I craved a more uniform look to tidy up the mirror’s current finish. For $7, it was worth a shot! I picked up the European Gold and went for it.

Supplies Used:

Our mirror (Tip: Can be applied to most surfaces. Here are some ideas!)
Rub ‘n Buff in European Gold
Blue tape
Mask + gloves
Soft cloth
Drop cloth

What I Did:

I was surprised by the strong smell of this stuff, so I worked with the windows open, and I wore a mask and gloves.  First, I laid down a drop cloth and taped off the mirror with blue tape. I squeezed a pea sized amount onto my cloth, and I literally rubbed it along the mirror frame, making sure to get the sides as well. I did two light passes over the entire mirror, and I quickly learned that a little goes a long way! All said and done, I don’t think I even used 1/4 of the tube on the mirror.

Once I had made it around the mirror twice, I used a clean part of my cloth to buff up any excess. And by buff, I mean I just made small circles with the cloth over the frame. It was mostly dry by that point, and very little was picked up on the cloth at all:

The finish felt dry and wax-like within 5-10 minutes, but I allowed it to dry for another 20 minutes before handling. The difference is subtle (before and after below), but the Rub ‘n Buff added a deeper gold color, providing more depth amongst the details. Three cheers for no more green!

My takeaway? This is an inexpensive pick-me-up when spray painting might not be an option due to poor weather – especially for those of us who live in unpredictable climates! The Rub ‘n Buff requires no primer, and it allows for greater control overall. The European Gold finish is a more natural gold finish, but I’m itching to try the Ebony on a project. We can’t wait to see how the mirror looks with the changing table against soft pink walls!

There are so many ways to use this paste – from frames to sconces to hardware – and the finish feels nice and tough now that it’s completely dry. What have you Rub ‘n Buffed?

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  • Katy DeBardelaben - October 17, 2017 - 7:43 AM

    I’m sure you know this, by that mirror will need to be super extra heavy duty secured to the wall. Wrangling a wiggly baby below a mirror is a dicey situation so just be on the super safe side. Just google security hardware and ou should be set. :)ReplyCancel

  • Eric - October 17, 2017 - 8:52 AM

    So I have a question – is it a paint, or is it a polish?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 17, 2017 - 10:06 AM

      It’s… a paste? Sort of looks like toothpaste!ReplyCancel

  • Robin - October 17, 2017 - 10:37 AM

    I’ve never tried this, but I am intrigued. I had no idea there was an ebony version.

    Copy editor in me notices: in 2nd-to-last paragraph, I think you meant “inexpensive”?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 17, 2017 - 10:49 AM

      Right! Thanks for catching that. :)ReplyCancel

  • Mary - October 17, 2017 - 11:46 AM

    I picked up a light fixture in Des Moines Iowa from West End Salvage. (Have you ever seen their TV show?)
    The metal parts are brushed silver. Will the European Gold paste completely cover the silver? I don’t want to have to take the light fixture apart to spray paint it.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - October 17, 2017 - 12:52 PM

      I’ve seen examples online that show it would work! Just tape off the silver and you may need a few coats.ReplyCancel

    • beth - October 17, 2017 - 7:57 PM

      whether the rub n’buff will work depends on the type of metal. i tried to change up a silver plated frame and it didn’t work at all. the paste just buffed off completely. i think if the finish is too shiny it doesn’t work.
      bethReplyCancel

  • Loryn - October 17, 2017 - 12:42 PM

    I used Rub n Buff on the hardware of a thrift store dresser I picked up in college (1995!). I’ve repainted the dresser four times, but I’ve never had to retouch the hardware.ReplyCancel

  • Caroline Bedard - October 17, 2017 - 1:40 PM

    I love Rub n’ Buff! I’ve used it for years. This week I used silver leaf to change gold picture frames to silver. They look great, and it’s so much faster, easier and cheaper than having artwork reframed! I think it’s a bit like using liquid wax on a car.ReplyCancel

  • Erin - October 17, 2017 - 5:19 PM

    I have RNB’d several times, but the biggest project was our bathroom sconce in the antique gold. It owns the look, but I don’t know that I’d do it again. I think RNB works beautifully on textured surfaces (your mirror, for instance); not so much when it is applied to something smooth. Too waxy and crafty a look for my taste.ReplyCancel

  • Safety Dennis - November 4, 2017 - 6:47 PM

    My wife loves your blog, and we’re also expecting our first little one!

    Great idea to open the windows and use gloves when working with this stuff. In the future, to better guard against inhaling vapors, look for a respirator that accepts cartridges, and go for the black-colored cartridges for organic vapors. The mask shown is only good to protect you against particulates – vapors pass right through. My wife and I love the look you achieved and she is about to try the same technique for a similar mirror in our nursery – thanks for the mirror makeover tips!ReplyCancel

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