Gilding on Matal Surfaces- How to apply leaf to metal.          

Gilding over Metal surfaces

These simple guidelines will help you produce a professionally gilt finished.

Applying Genuine Gold leaf or Imitation Gold leaf to metal surfaces.

Apply genuine gold, Silver, imitation gold, aluminum and copper leaf to metal surfaces. Interior and exterior surfaces, you'll learn about types of adhesive, tacking and drying rates, easy leaf application tips and cleaning and burnishing the leaf.

A step-by-step educational series for metal surfaces.

For metal surfaes including Bronze - Iron - Brass - Copper.

These simple Gilded Planet guidelines will help you produce a professionally finished gilded project. Gilding tutorials and gilding information for the beginner, intermediate and advanced gilder.

Application Technique

Priming the surface

It is necessary to apply a high quality primer over your metal, stone, wood and plastic surface to insure the gold layer has an appropriate surface to rest on. We recommend a product specially formulated for exterior gilding on metal. The 'Burnish Sealer' is a primer-sealer specially designed for use under gilding size (adhesive). It is available in 3 colors, Red, Gray and Ochre. For Traditional gilding use either Red or Ochre colors as a base for genuine gold leaf. This product creates a high quality, smooth surface for gilding.

Stainless steel requires an 'etching primer' rather than a standard solvent based, alkyd primer, so be sure to do due dilgence when working with this material. Have questions? Ask us!

Applying the Adhesive Sizing

Size refers to the adhesive used to adhere the leaf to a surface. There are different kinds of size adhesive dependant on the finished look you desire. When applying Genuine Gold, Silver or Metal leaf over metal, LeFranc Mixtion 3 hour or 12 hour size is recommended. This is a Traditional, clear, natural, oil based size made in France. LeFranc has earned the reputation of being the best oil size available and experienced Gilders request LeFranc for their most important projects.

We also offer the superior quality oil sizing Dux, made in the US. Dux Quick Dry. and Slow Set Oil Size.

Apply carefully and evenly, working the size to an even film as much as possible. Watch for 'pooling' in ornamental surfaces and recessed areas. Watch our 'Gilding on metal surfaces' video tutorial for detailed use and product information, including drying and tack times for oil size.

Testing your 'tack'

This is perhaps the most important phase in achieving a properly gilt surface, and determining the proper 'tack' time of adhesive sizing will result in the professional finish you are after. As your 'size' dries it naturally goes from a wet to a dry state. The proper time to apply your leaf is when the 'size' is not wet but 'tacky', just before it dries completely. To learn more about proper tack times, and testing your size to determine if it is ready to receive genuine or metal leaf, watch our 'Gilding on metal surfaces' video tutorial for detailed application techniques.

Use 23kt or higher Genuine Gold Leaf

23.5 karat genuine gold leaf is recommended for exterior gilt surface. It is also OK to use 23 karat leaf, though anything less pure may provide inadequate results, lack of durability and longevity. Genuine 23.5 kt gold leaf is available in individual sheets (3 3/8" x 3 3/8"), Patent leaf (each individual sheet is attached to a piece of wax paper for easier handling), and Rolls of genuine gold, 4 1/8" leaf on a continuous roll of 68ft. For exterior gilding using Patent Gold leaf is infinitely more efficient, as you can handle and manipulate the leaf with ease due to the gold being attached to the paper surface.

Visit our extensive line of Genuine Gold leaf products. We offer the highest quality Italian, German, French and Chinese gold leaf. 24 karat all the way down to 6 kt Genuine leaf. Visit now!

'Burnishing' and 'Cleaning Off'

A soft hair Squirrel mop brush is recommended to remove excess leaf and 'polish' the surface. Insure that there is full gold coverage on your object before cleaning with your mop brush. Once all the 'holidays' or gaps are filled with gold, use the mop brush to dust off any excess gold.

Be fairly comprehensve but leave a small amount of gold dust. In otherwords, don't give an aggressive 'polish' directly after applying the gold. The adhesive is still soft and your gold may dull if you over work the brush. Allow to set up over night then come back and complete the final 'burnishing' the next day. You can complete this process by using soft cotton, to remove any excess gold pieces and create the finished, burnished gold appearance.

Sealing and 'Finishing Off

Genuine 23.5 kt or 23 kt gold leaf does not need to be sealed on exterior surfaces. Gold less than 23 karats has enough Silver and/or copper belended into it that these lower karat levels will tarnish, and therefore require a clear coat sealer.

It is generally recommended not to seal the gold in exterior applications, which is why it is recommended to use a 23 karat or higher gold content in your leaf. Sealers tend to break down or become milky/hazy, within 3-5 years. Unsealed 23kt or higher gold leaf can last 20- 30 years unsealed , if properly gilded.

However, it is sometimes desired to seal high traffic areas that have been gilt outside. For interior use on gold and imitation metal leaf you can use the Dux 'Acrylic Topcoat' - (available in High gloss and Semi-gloss).

'Acrylic Topcoat' is a non-reactive, premium water clear sealer for genuine and metal leaf. Made from acrylic copolymers, Acrylic Topcoat provides protection from abrasion, water and ultra violet light.

Featured Product Ideally suited for exterior applications.

Gold Leaf Kits - Oil based

Professional Gilding Kit - 23kt Gold Leaf. Each kit contains: Basic step-by-step instructions, one book 23kt Gold Leaf book (Patent leaf) one 4 oz. bottle of yellow/ochre oil based Gilding Primer, natural hair brush, one 4 oz jar of oil based gilding size, one 4 oz Acrylic Top Coat Sealer, cotton and mixing sticks, wet/dry paper and book of leaf. Solvent-based. Each Gold leaf book contains 25 leaves. Each leaf is 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" square. Approx coverage is 1.7 sqft.

UPS Ground shipment only.

Learn more and purchase sealers for gold leaf now.


It's all in the details!

Material Size Quantity Coverage
Gold Leaf Pack 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" 500 leaves 39.5 sqft.
Gold Leaf Book 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" 25 leaves 1.98 sqft.
Metal Leaf Pack 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" 500 leaves 100 sqft.
Metal Leaf Book 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" 25 leaves 5 sqft
Gold Leaf Master Roll 4 1/8" x 69 ft. Master Roll 23.5 sqft.
Silver Leaf Master Roll 5 3/4" x 82 ft. Master Roll 39 sqft.
Metal Leaf Roll 5 meter 6 1/4" sq. x 15 ft. Master Roll 3 sqft.
Metal Leaf Roll 50 meter 6 1/4" x 164 ft Master Roll 82 sqft.
Metal Leaf Roll 75 meter 6 1/4" x 246 ft. Master Roll 123 sqft.

Measurements are calculated without consideration for waste or overlap.

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