Using copper leaf for walls isn’t as hard as you may think, however, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when setting out to do so. Gilding a wall or ceiling in copper is a beautiful and artistic way to add a unique sheen and wondrous awe to any room, but like with gold leaf, it requires skill, patience, and the right tools.

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How Do You Apply Copper Leaf to Walls?

To apply copper leaf to walls, you’ll need specific tools. You’ll first want to make sure that you have a proper primer base color, adhesive size, and sealant.

Unlike other genuine and metal leaves, copper does tarnish over time. Because of this, you’ll want to seal your copper loose leaf after application. You should also note that this imitation or genuine metal leaf may not be the preferred metal leaf to use outdoors. Unlike genuine gold, it may not hold up well to harsh weather leaving the surface leaf to eventually change colors and look unappealing over time.

In addition to primer, base color, adhesive size, and sealant, you’ll also need the following:

  • Cotton gloves
  • High quality brush (paint brush, squirrel haired brush, or any other type of soft brush)
  • Wax paper or soft cloth
  • Ladder (optional for reaching high ceiling or wall areas)
copper leaf for walls

How to Put Copper Leaf on Walls

Now that you know the tools you’ll need, let’s jump into how to apply copper leaf to walls or ceilings to make a beautifully copper leafed surface.

  1. Prepare your surface by covering the floor area with a drop cloth or newspaper to prevent messes and spills from occurring. You should also ensure that you aren’t working in an area that has a draft as this will make it much harder to lay your copper leaf.
  2. Take sanding paper and carefully sand your walls if needed to reveal a smooth finish ready for the application of copper leaf.
  3. Prime your surface with a primer. This can help to create a smooth surface on which you can lay your copper leaf. There are varying types of primer available, including those in spray form, so be sure to use the one that works best for you.
  4. Next, choose the base color over which you’ll lay your copper leaf. Red bole can help you add old world charm to your wall or ceiling, however, there are several other base colors, including ochre and gray that could also be utilized depending on the intended outcome. Paint this base layer over the surface of your wall or ceiling prior to applying the adhesive.
  5. Using a soft brush, apply your choice of adhesive to the wall or ceiling to be gilded. As with gold leaf and silver leaf, you can use a water based size or oil based sizes to adhere your copper leaf. Just know that oil based sizes are more beginner friendly while water based sizes may be more difficult, but also have a longer tack time.
  6. Once you’ve applied the size over your wall or ceiling be sure to allow the size to reach proper gilding tack before applying metal leaf. This will dramatically affect the way your copper leaf adheres, so it is important that you allow the size you’ve used to become tacky enough (not too dry and not too wet) before applying the copper leaf.
  7. Just as when you apply gold leaf, you’ll need to be careful when picking up your copper leaf sheets. We recommend you do so with cotton gloves on your hands to prevent yourself from ruining the metal leaf. To attach the leaf, simply dislodge the copper sheet from its protective paper and press the metal sheet against the surface of the gilding piece. Use wax paper, gloved hands, or a soft brush to gently press the copper leaf in place. Use a soft brush to dust away any excess leaf.
  8. Use a top coat or sealer over your copper leaf surface even when gilding walls and ceilings as this can help prevent your copper from tarnishing quickly. The final result is a beautifully gilded surface that you’ll love showing off!

How Do You Use Copper Leaf?

When it comes to how to use copper leaf sheets, you should know that the sky’s the limit. You can add copper leaf to pottery, statues, walls, ceilings, cement jewelry, and so much more. You should note, however, that copper leaf is not edible like so many other metal leaf types out there (such as edible gold). Thus, if you want to use a surface leaf for glamming up food, try the following types instead:

Genuine gold leaf

Imitation gold leaf

Imitation silver leaf

Note: Be sure that each of these metal sheets are actually labeled as edible. If it doesn’t specifically say that it is edible, we suggest you steer clear from consuming it as they may contain other metals or alloys you aren’t privy to.

Do You Need to Seal Copper Leaf?

Yes, you always need to seal copper leaves. Although it is recommended that you apply genuine gold to walls, ceilings, and other surfaces without the use of sealant, the same isn’t true of copper leaf. Instead, you should always use a protective top coat after applying copper leaf. Do your best to only copper gild walls and ceilings located indoors rather than outdoors.

Copper Leaf For Walls Requires Tools, Know-How, and Patience

A copper leafed surface adds character, dimension, and a certain “wow” factor that is virtually unmatched. With its warm yet brilliant sheen, copper leaf used on walls or ceilings can give a regal flair that is sure to catch the eye. Still, it is important that you use the right methods and tools when applying copper leaf in order for you to end up with the perfect results.

Use a high quality soft brush, cotton gloves, oil or water size, base color, primer, and sealer to achieve a beautifully gilt surface.

We’ve got a dedicated blog post on how to apply imitation gold leaf, if you wanna check it out!


Should I use oil size or water size for copper leaf sheets?

When it comes to copper leaf adhesive, it is up to you whether or not you use oil or water based size. Gilding on certain surfaces, such as glass, may be best gilt with water based size. Water based size also provides longer tack times. Having said that, oil based sizes are typically regarded as the easiest and more beginner friendly size to use. Just be careful to follow the directions on the label of whichever copper leaf adhesive you use to ensure best results.

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