Do you love the metallic finishes of gold and silver? If so, you may be looking for information on applying gold leaf on furniture. Well, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re going to share more information about adding gold leaf on furniture to help you complete your next project. Read on to learn more.

Table of Contents

Applying Gold Leaf on Furniture: Step-by-Step

Prepare the Furniture

The first step for how to gold leaf furniture is to clean the surface to remove any dust or debris.

Prepare a mixture of soap and water and use a soft cloth to wipe down the entire surface of the piece. Make sure that the cloth is only damp, not soaking wet, to avoid damaging the wood.

You will also want to test the soapy water mixture on an inconspicuous area of the furniture to ensure that it doesn’t negatively impact the finish or change the color. Plain water may be a better cleaning agent for antique or other delicate wood furniture pieces.

If you’re planning to paint the furniture before applying the gold leaf, now is also the time to do so. Sanding the furniture before painting can help ensure an even application of the paint.

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When painting before making gold leaf furniture, chalk paint is often viewed as the best option. It will get into the various crevices on the piece better than other paint types. You can paint the entire piece, or only specific areas, depending on your design vision.

After painting (if desired) and waiting for the piece to dry, use a 220-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the areas where you intend to apply gold leaf — even if they’re painted. This will help the gold leaf sheets to adhere to the piece. 

Tape Off Any Areas Not to be Gilded

Before applying gold leaf to wood, you’ll also want to tape off the areas of the furniture that will not be gilded.

Use painters tape to section off the sections that will retain the wood finish or to create a pattern on the piece, if desired. Painter’s tape should not have any negative impact on the finish of the piece. However, just wait until you’re certain that everything is dry before peeling it off.

Apply Adhesive Size

The next step before gold leafing furniture is to apply a gilding adhesive over the area where you will be placing the gold leaf sheets.

You can use modge podge or an adhesive specifically designed for gilding. Both water-based and oil-based adhesive sizes are available to choose from. While water-based adhesive size remains workable for longer periods of time, it is not burnishable like oil-based size is.

Regardless of the adhesive you select, you’ll want to apply it in an even and thin layer. Work carefully to cover all the areas where you plan to add the gold leafing.

Wait for the Adhesive to Become Tacky

It is essential to wait until the adhesive feels tacky before beginning to apply the gold leaf sheets. This typically takes between 15 and 30 minutes for water-based adhesive size.

However, the exact amount of time it will take the glue to come to tack will vary based on the temperature and humidity level in your space.

Carefully Place the Gold Leaf Sheets Over the Adhesive

Now you are ready to apply the gold leaf on wood furniture.

Gold leaf sheets are very delicate and can easily tear or blow away, so you’ll want to work carefully. Use a piece of tissue paper to pick up each gold leaf sheet and lay it over the adhesive. Once in position, lightly pat the tissue paper so that the gold leaf will adhere to the size.

Then, remove the piece of tissue paper and smooth out the piece of gold foil by rubbing a paper towel gently across it. Continue to apply gold leaf to cover the rest of the piece using the method shared above. Do not overlap the pieces of gold leafing as they will not adhere to one another.

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After applying the gold leaf, add another coat of adhesive and additional sheets of leafing to cover up any gaps left in the finish. Again, you should wait for the adhesive to become tacky before applying the gold leaf sheets.

In addition to working with real gold leaf, these steps will be the same if you are using imitation gold, silver, copper, or metal leaf sheets.

Apply gold leaf to furniture.

Finish the Surface

Now to perfect the look of gold leaf for furniture, you will want to finish the surface. You can either add an additional adhesive size layer on top of the gold leaf sheets for a duller finish, or add an additional layer of adhesive and foil for a shinier look. Regardless of the option you choose, wait for the adhesive to fully dry before moving to the next step.

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Remove the Excess Gold

When using gold leaf on furniture, you will also need to brush away the excess leafing using a soft brush.

After the adhesive has dried, brush over the gold leaf. This will loosen and remove the excess gold leaf that is not attached to the piece. 

Seal the Furniture

When applying gold leaf to furniture, you’ll need to finish the piece using a sealant. A gold leaf sealer, such as varnish or shellac, will help protect the gold leafing.

If you’re wondering how to seal gold leaf on furniture, you simply brush a thin and even layer of the sealant over the sections where you applied gold leaf. Wait until the sealant dries fully (check the manufacturer’s directions) before trying to move or handle the furniture item.

Gold leaf to furniture can enhance its features.

Start Your Transformational Project Today!

Are gold leaf furniture ideas flooding your brain after reading all of that information? Now that you know how to use gold leaf on furniture, you can choose one of your DIY projects on your wish list and give it a try.

Are you excited to see how gold leaf will transform your furniture? Whether you’re working with a 100+ year old antique or a newer piece of furniture, be prepared to be wowed by the impact the brilliant gold finish will have on the furniture item.

Have metal furniture? We’ve got a blog post on applying gold leaf to metal!


How do you seal gold leaf on wood?

To seal gold leaf on wood, you can use a gold leaf sealer or permanent solvent-based varnish.

How do you paint gold leaf furniture?

If you are painting a piece of furniture that has gold leafing, you will want to carefully tape around the gold before painting. This will prevent paint from splattering on the gold leafing.

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