How to Replace Paper Backing on Picture or Mirror

We’ve all seen those paper dust covers on the backs of pictures and mirrors that over time seem to end up getting torn or punctured. A quick fix might be to use  clear tape to hold the pieces together, or in some cases, just remove the paper completely leaving the back exposed. After all, who’s going to see the backside anyway …. right?

But did you know you can replace the paper-backing easily and it will look just like you’d taken it to a professional framer? Clean edges, nice and tight. It takes only a few supplies and a little time to make the back look like new – using a trick we learned a long time ago.


Heavy brown paper large enough to cover the entire back of picture or mirror (Don’t go out and buy brown paper unless necessary. For smaller sized frames a brown paper grocery store bag that has been opened up along the seams will work.)

  • Bottle of white all-purpose glue
  • Scissors
  • Straight edge
  • Pencil
  • Chalk
  • Damp paper towel or rag
  • Exacto knife or single-edge razor blade
  • Hanger or eye-hooks and wire for hanging (if needed)
  • Spritz bottle of water or Windex


1.  Remove any hangers or eye-hooks with wire before proceeding.  Set these aside to re-affix later.

2.  Clean all the old paper off the back of the frame, making sure there are no overly rough places along the edge where it had been previously glued.

3.  Using the straight edge and pencil, mark and then cut a piece of brown paper one inch larger than the measurements of the frame that paper is to cover.

4.  Place a thin bead of all-purpose glue along all four edges of the frame. If the area to be glued is wide, you’ll need to zigzag the bead for best coverage. (Do not take the glue all the way to the inside or outside edge, leave a little space here so the glue will have room to expand and not spill over.)

5.  Lay the brown paper on top of the glue and smooth down along the ‘glue line’.

6.  If needed, use a damp paper towel or rag to wipe up any excess glue that may ooze out along the outside edges.

7.  Take the straight edge and place it along one side of the frame about 1/8 inch in from the outside edge, then with the Exacto knife (or single-edge razor blade) cut along the outside of the straight edge leaving a clean cut. Carefully remove the cut off paper – you don’t want to lift or pull the remaining paper up. Repeat this cutting process for each side of the frame.

8.  Once all four sides have been trimmed, use the damp paper towel or rag to smooth any places along the edge that may have become raised or puckered.

9.  Allow the glue to completely dry

10.  When the glue is dry, spritz the back of the paper with water or Windex until lightly damp (do not spritz any area where paper is glued to the frame and do not soak the paper.)

11.  Allow to completely dry.  Your backing should now be nice and tight

12.  Replace any hangers or eye-hooks and wire needed to hang the item.


This is an easy and relatively cheap fix, since most of us already have all the needed supplies and tools around the house!  For more pictures of the process, visit this link.


2 comments to How to Replace Paper Backing on Picture or Mirror

  • Evie

    Hi, I have an old dresser with a mirror, the heavy backing is holding the mirror in place. They have small nails holding the back in place. The nails are not all the way in and when they are the hole is larger than the nails. Any suggestions on how to restore the mirror with out harm to it. I was going to use electrical tape. Maybe glue. Help please!

    • David

      Hi – Try placing a toothpick in the hole (two if the hole is too large for one) and then try replacing the nail. You can use a little glue to hold the toothpick(s)/nails in place. Good Luck – David

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