If you love the look of gold leaf but are in need of a gold leaf alternative, we’ve got the post for you. Whether you’re looking for a cheaper alternative or simply want to explore your options, you should know that there are several choices out there readily available for you that can help get you on your way to the gilded surface of your dreams.

Ready to learn what those are? Let’s get into this glitzy subject!

Gold Leaf Alternatives: What Can You Use Instead?

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Why Use Gold Leaf Alternative

Using a gold leaf alternative is a plausible option for a multitude of reasons.

Because real gold can be costly, it is often a better and less expensive option to simply use one of the aforementioned alternatives.

In addition to pricing, some projects may simply fare better and are easier to achieve by simply selecting one of the previously mentioned gold leaf alternatives. For example, if it is a simple highlight of furniture you’re after, gilding wax would do an awesome job at providing metal sheen without needing to break out the gilding supplies, brushes, and needing to deal with delicacy of gold leaf sheets.

The following are common reasons people seek out gold leaf alternatives instead of choosing to buy the real deal gold leaf from a trusted brand:

  • Affordability
  • Small DIY projects
  • Easier to use
  • Intimidated by the use of gold leaf
  • New to gold leafing

What Can I Use Instead of Gold Leaf?

There are a variety of options you have available to you if you want to use something other than gold leaf.

Take a peek at the following alternatives to learn more.

Acrylic gold paint

Using gold leaf paint is a totally viable option for obtaining a metal leaf look without the metal leaf effort. Real gold leaf will undoubtedly provide more long lasting durability, and will ultimately look better, too. But if you’re in a pickle and want a bit of gold glimmer without needing to deal with the real thing, acrylic paint might be the perfect option for you.

So, what types of gold leaf paints are out there? You could try liquid gold leaf or a simple acrylic gold you’d find in a craft store.

Just be sure you take note of what types of mediums you should use acrylic on. You’ll also need to make special note of any priming or preparation processes you’ll need to follow beforehand, in order to ensure that your gold paint stays put and doesn’t chip.

Dutch metal

Dutch metal, also known as imitation gold leaf, is another viable way to achieve the gold leafing look without having to spend big bucks. If metal leafing is something you’re interested in trying but you dont want to use genuine gold, you can totally purchase imitation gold, and no one will likely know the difference.

This affordable option will give a more realistic looking sheen to your surface than will acrylics, though the process for applying imitation gold leaf will be slightly different from the application of its genuine leaf counterpart.

For example, once you’ve finished laying your imitation leafing, it is imperative that you protect the finish from tarnishing by painting on to it a vanish or topcoat. In addition, please note that if it is your intent to eat your imitation leaf substitute, that you should only do so if the gold leaf indicates that it is indeed edible.

Never attempt to eat an imitation leaf that doesn’t explicitly state that it is edible; this is for protection of your health.

Gilding wax

Gilding wax is another plausible way to achieve a metallic shine without needing to use gold leaf. Simply apply the gilding wax to your desired surface using a cotton swab, old washcloth, or even your finger.

Gilding wax is extremely easy to use, affordable, and forgiving, so it proves to be another great way of adding highlight and glitz to a project without having to pay a lot of money for it.

Gold spray paint

Using gold spray paint is another way to produce a quick touch up or highlight to a project. Gold spray paint can be found virtually anywhere and the cost is minimal when compared to genuine gold leaf.

To use it, simply follow the instructions on the label and you’re good to go. Though you don’t typically need to use a topcoat for spray paint, doing so may improve its durability and keep it lasting longer.

Looking For Gold Leaf Alternatives? We’ve Got You Covered!

All in all, there are many alternatives you could choose to use when it comes to finding a good substitute for gold leaf. Remember that imitation gold leaf, along with acrylic gold, gilding wax, and gold spray paint are all good options for when using true high-quality gold isn’t feasible.

We hope this gives you an idea of how to accomplish the look of gold metal leafing without having to buy real gold to do it.


How is gold leaf so cheap?

Gold leaf may seem cheap on the surface, but that’s generally because genuine gold is pounded so thin that it can be sold at a (relatively) inexpensive price. In reality, if you were to buy a lot of this gold, you’d see that it isn’t cheap at all! Still, you can opt to use imitation gold types for even cheaper than pure gold and still achieve somewhat similar results.

What is an imitation gold leaf made of?

Imitation gold is made up of a variety of metals to achieve the same look as the real thing. This real gold alternative may contain copper leaf, aluminum, and other metal leaf to achieve the look of real gold leaf, but for a much lower price tag.

Does imitation gold leaf need to be sealed?

Yes. Unlike genuine gold leaf, imitation gold leaf will need to be sealed to protect it from tarnishing or changing its appearance over time.

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