How To Make Large DIY Rustic Frames From Outdated or Cheap Frames

by Laura
4 Materials
5 Hours

Want to reuse those old picture frames you have laying around in your basement? Would you believe you can and turn them into fresh, new DIY rustic frames for your living room decor? Follow along as I share the step by step process.

I started with two cheap photo frames that were the exact same dimensions and were on the larger side. Don't be fooled by the picture, the frames are made out of some sort of cheap laminated cardboard.

My goal with this project was to thicken the frames and give them a high end finish without the expensive price tag.

The cost for this project will vary depending how many tools and supplies you already have. I set the project cost based on the need to purchase wood, shoe molding and hardware.


Measure the width of your frame and add 1 1/2 inches to that measurement. This accounts for the 3/4 inch depth of the two side boards. Write down your measurement.

Next, measure the height of your frame and write down that measurement.

I cut my boards on a miter saw. But, you can use the hand miter box down the Home Depot molding aisle to cut your boards. Another option would be to purchase a hand miter box, they're only about ten dollars including the saw.

I made two frames, so there were 8 boards. Lightly sand the boards and wipe them down.


Working on a flat surface, dry fit your boards to the frame. Be sure that the ends line up perfectly. It's easiest to make any cut adjustments before you assemble the frame. There is always a slight curve in boards. I find it easiest to have the curve face the frame.

Run a small bead of glue along the bottom of your pine boards. Don't use too much glue or it will ooze out when you press the boards to the frame.

Firmly hold the butt joint into place and add two brad nails to each corner. If you have clamps, even better.

It's important to not lift your frame off of the flat surface. We haven't secured the wood to the frame and the glue hasn't dried yet.

Next, measure from the left inside corner of your pine frame to the right inside corner. Take the measurements for the top, bottom, left and right moldings and write them down.

Set your miter saw to cut a 45 degree angle. Place the molding on your miter saw with the 3/4 inch side flat against the saw fence. The 1 1/4 inch side will be on the saw table. Now cut the left miter of your molding. Using your tape measure, transfer one of you measurements on the piece of molding. The measurement will go on the long side of your molding.

Now move your miter saw blade to the left and set it at a 45 degree angle. Slide your molding to the left so your mark is on the left side of the blade, when lowered. Then cut the right side of your molding.

Here is how they will look when you are done cutting them. Dry fit your moldings in place on your frame. If they don't fit nicely, now is the time to trim them down a little on your saw.


Using your brad nailer, attach the shoe molding to the outer pine frame. Working from the middle of the shoe molding, just where the contour of the molding heightens, hold your brad nailer on an angle, so the nail goes through the shoe molding into the pine board. I added two evenly spaced brad nails to each side of the frame. You'll want to use shorter brad nails for this. I used 1 1/4 inch nails. Measure the distance before you choose your nail size.

I did not put any nails in the original frame, because it is cheap cardboard and would not hold. If you are using real wood frames, you may be able to nail them. Just remember to remove the glass before you begin.

Since my plan was to paint the frame, I decided to caulk all of the gaps.


Now that the frame is tightly secured, flip it over, so the back side of the frame is facing up. Next, measure in 5 inches from the edge of the frame and make a pencil mark.

Now screw in your frame turn buttons to hold the original frame to the new frame.


Start by quickly adding a base coat of black. You can use any latex black paint. This coat will show through very lightly later on, when we distress the wood with sandpaper. Let this coat dry.

Next, add a layer of dark gray/beige paint. I used some leftover Fusion Mineral paint in the color Algonquin. This is one of my favorite paint colors. Let this coat dry.

For the next step, we are going to use a dry brush technique. This will only work with a dry brush. Dip the very tip of your brush in a lighter beige paint. I used leftover Fusion Mineral paint in Cathedral Taupe. Then dab it on a paper towel. Now run the brush parallel to the frame. You can work in a back and forth motion. It should look like the image above. If not, add a little more paint.

The last color is white. I used leftover Rustoleum Chalked in linen white. You can use any bright white paint you have on hand. Using the dry brush technique (same as above) add a little white paint to the frame.

Once the paint is dry, you can sand it. This step evens out the paint colors and lets the black show through a little more.

Using a medium grit sandpaper, lightly sand the frame in the direction of the wood grain. Go for long even strokes over a back and forth motion. You only want to let the paint underneath show through a little.

Since these frames are not a high use item, I opted to skip the protective top coat.

Here they are on my living room wall.

Free Printable Download

I originally took these rose print pictures to add to my frames. They are available as a free download over on my website. For access to these and many other free printables, go to .

I hope this post inspires you to up-cycle some of your old frames into something new and beautiful!


Resources for this project:
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Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
  • Nanamcphee Nanamcphee on Apr 20, 2020

    Where is link for the printables and can I paint over some old wood frames that may have a finish on them already please n thx u

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3 of 11 comments
  • Mary Russell Mary Russell on Apr 02, 2021

    At least miter the corners!!

    • Laura Laura on Apr 02, 2021

      Hi Mary. You could miter the corners. Honestly, after you add the distressed paint finish, you will hardly notice that detail.

  • Debbie Debbie on Apr 01, 2022

    Your frame turned out beautiful. Thanks for sharing this. I have a few of those cheap plastic frames. I have also saved some beautiful prints from an old calendar. Now I know what to do with them.