Applying gold leaf on plaster is a great way to add dimension and interest to an otherwise boring and mundane surface. Plaster is often found layering walls and other projects. Some people use plaster of Paris for decorating and creating molds. Adding gold leaf to these dull plaster-covered objects will instantly upgrade the piece by giving it a regal glint.

So, how should you go about layering gold leaf on plaster? It’s relatively straightforward; stay tuned!

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Gold Leaf On Plaster

Applying Gold Leaf on Plaster

As previously mentioned, applying gold leaf on plaster is a relatively straightforward process. Still, you’ll need a few specific tools and supplies to get you started. These include:

  • Gold leaf
  • Sanding paper (optional)
  • Primer (optional, depending on the need)
  • Gilding adhesive (oil-based sizes or water-based adhesive sizes)
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Gilder’s brush
  • Cotton gloves
  • Newspaper, drop cloth, or other coverings for your work surface
  • Varnish, shellac, or top coat wax (not always recommended when using genuine gold leaf)

How Do You Prepare a Surface for Gold Leaf?

  • To begin, you’ll want to prepare your work surface. Start by covering the floor or table you are working on with a cloth or newspaper.
  • Next, assess your surface. If you are working on a surface that requires smoothing, such as plaster walls, you’ll need to smooth it by sanding before proceeding to the next step.
  • Once you’ve achieved a smooth surface, it is time to apply a primer to the plaster. Using a primer is optional in some cases (like with smaller projects), but in most cases, you’ll want to use it. Using a primer prevents the adhesive from sinking into your plaster and also helps you to achieve a smoother finish. Red or yellow ochre are popular choices to use beneath gold leaf. Know that primers typically come in a variety of colors so pick the one best suited to your needs.

How to Apply Gold Leaf to Plaster

  • To apply your gold leaf to plaster, you’ll first need to apply adhesive, also known as “size.” You may use oil or water based on size, depending on the need. Spray adhesive is also available. Just know that anything that will be used outdoors will require the use of oil-based size.
  • Apply your adhesive to the gilding surface using a foam or soft brush. Give it time to get tacky before laying the gold leaf. The time needed for tackiness depends on your size, but most times, the size will turn clear when it is ready to receive the gold leaf. This “open time” refers to the amount of time the adhesive remains tacky before going completely dry.
  • Take the individual leaves and carefully apply them to the areas where the adhesive has reached the tack using gloved hands. Be certain that the tack isn’t completely dry before applying the gold leaf. It should only be slightly wet. Use a high-quality brush to press the gold leaf onto the adhesive. You’ll also brush away excess leaf using the brush once all of the gold leaf has been laid. Note: Gold leaf is very delicate and can easily flow away or crumble. Handle the gold leaf with the utmost care when gilding.
  • That’s it! Your gold leaf is good to go as is, although if you’ve applied imitation gold leaf to plaster, you may wish to finish it with a top coat. Bear in mind that genuine gold leaf does not require a top coat, nor is it recommended. Top coats often make genuine leaves of gold become milky and hazy over time. To prevent this, we recommend you leave the pure gold leaf unsealed.

How to Clean Gold Leaf on Plaster

If you find that your gold leaf has become dirty after laying it, do not attempt to clean it with liquids, abrasive chemicals, or rough cloth. Instead, try to rub the surface of the gold leaf with only a soft brush. Dust over the exterior of the gilded piece carefully so as not to nick or cause imperfections upon the surface of the gold leaf.

Liquid Gold Leaf

If you’d rather skip the hassle of laying gold leaf over plaster, you can absolutely grab liquid gold leaf and apply it to your surface instead. Just know that it may not have the same luster and brilliance that genuine gold leaf offers. Still, it is an easier and simpler way to go about gilding if you are low on time.

What Is the Best Surface for Gold Leaf?

All in all, gold leaf can be applied to a large variety of surfaces. In fact, gold leaf can even be applied to cakes and other types of food. Other types of surfaces you can attach gold leaf to include:

  • Wood
  • Silver or other metals
  • Glass
  • Plaster
  • Brick wall
  • Plastic
  • Canvas

Gold Leaf on Plaster: An Elegant Touch

Applying gold leaf to plaster can quickly upgrade an otherwise dull surface and turn it into something truly magical. Using high-quality brushes, size, and other supplies, you can easily apply gold leaf to plaster. Always ensure you handle your gold leaf carefully; this delicate metal leaf is often tricky to lay. We hope this helps!


How to fix gold leaf on plaster walls?

If you notice gaps or other imperfections concerning your gold leaf on plaster, try adding small pieces of gold leaf to conceal any problem areas. Be sure to clear away the excess leaf with a brush. 

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