Have you been thinking about trying a gold leafing project? Do you love the transformative effect that this type of leaf can have on anything? One question that you may want to answer before starting is, “how long does gold leaf last?” This is definitely a valid question. You don’t want to spend a lot of time on a project only to have it look tarnished, scratched, or damaged after just a short amount of time. Let’s get right into exploring how long gold leafing can last.

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How Long Will Gold Leaf Last?

The answer to this question can vary based on a few different factors. The first factor that can impact how long gold leafing lasts is the type of surface it is applied to. You may find some variation in how long gold leaf lasts on wood, metal, glass, stone, and other surfaces.

Another factor that will influence the length of time a gilded surface remains intact and beautiful is whether the surface is an interior or exterior surface. 

As another consideration, the type of leafing used will also play a huge role in determining how long the finish will last. There will be a huge difference in how long authentic gold leaf sheets last compared to how long imitation gold leaf will last.

In the next few sections, we’ll take a closer look at these factors.

How long does gold leaf last?

Exterior Applications

Exterior gilding projects can have a huge impact on the aesthetics of a space. You may think that thin gold sheets won’t fare well in the elements. In reality, however, gold can be quite durable. Gilded statues and other exterior surfaces can last for 40 or more years if certain conditions are met.

First, when completing an exterior gilding project, it is essential to use gold leaf sheets with high gold content. Choosing these sheets with a purity of at least 23.75 karats can help ensure that the gold finish remains pristine for decades. Real gold leaf with a high purity level will not tarnish or corrode. This is why it is important to choose high-gold content for projects that will be exposed to the elements.

For exterior projects, it is also important to choose a gold sheet with a higher weight. The weight of this leaf is reported in grams per set of 1,000 leaves. Aim to only use gold sheets with a weight of at least 18 grams per 1,000 sheets for any exterior applications.

Interior Applications

When you’re wondering how long gold can last for interior projects, consider Ancient Egyptian artifacts. Gold leafing has been used for centuries. Take a look at artifacts from Ancient Egypt and other past civilizations. You will see that some of these items still feature a brilliant gold finish. 

Have you been asking questions like, “how long does gold last on paintings?” Rest easy, knowing that the finish will last for a very long time when applied properly.

Many wonder how long does gold leaf last.

How Long Does Fake Gold Leaf Last?

Unfortunately, imitation gold leaf does not last anywhere near as long as genuine gold. Imitation leaf, along with other metals like silver and copper, can tarnish or corrode. Even when sealed, these finishes will not last for more than a few years.

Should You Seal Gold Leaf to Help It Last Longer?

While you may think that sealing gold leaf will help extend its lifespan, that isn’t always the case. After a few years, most sealers tend to begin to break down within a few years. When this happens, it can have a negative impact on the appearance of the gold sheet. The good news is that real gold doesn’t need to be sealed for exterior projects. So, you don’t need to worry about this step in most cases.

Should you seal golf leaf to better see how long gold leaf lasts?

Gold Leaf: A Lasting Treasure

So how long does gold leaf last? This type of leaf is not only beautiful, but it is also incredibly durable and long-lasting. Choose gold with high gold content, such as 23 or 24 karats will help the leafing last for decades on exterior surfaces. Gold can last far longer on interior surfaces and objects. Now is the perfect time to start planning your next DIY project.

If you want to make your gold leaf projects look more antique, check out our blog on that!


Does gold leaf fade?

Surfaced gilded with pure gold (24 karats) will not fade. Unlike gold with a lower purity level, imitation gold leaf, and other types of leafing, such as silver or copper, pure gold does not tarnish. It will retain its brilliant and shiny appearance.

How do you preserve gold leaf?

Gold leaf with a high purity rating can be very durable. When working with a gold sheet that is 22, 23, 23.5, 23.75, or 24 karats, it is often not necessary to apply a protective sealer. However, if you’re working with gold leafing with a lower purity level, silver leaf, copper leaf, or other types of metal leaf, it will be necessary to apply a protective sealer. These metals are not as durable to tarnish-resistant as pure gold is. 

When working with pure gold, you may also choose to apply a sealer if the gilded item will be in a high-traffic interior area. However, you should not apply a sealer to exterior gold leafing projects. as the sealer will begin to break down in about three to five years. 

Is gold weatherproof?

Pure gold (at least 23.75-karat) is weatherproof. Rain, snow, sun, wind, and other weather events will not cause the finish to tarnish or discolor. However, if you’re working with other materials, such as gold with a lower karat level, imitation gold leaf, silver leaf, or copper leaf, the finish will corrode or tarnish over time when exposed to the elements.

Is gold leaf better than gold paint?

You might take a look at the very thin sheets of gold leafing and wonder whether it would just be better to use gold paint. However, despite how thin the sheets may seem, they are actually very durable and long-lasting. Choosing gold leaf over gold paint can help ensure the design vision for the project lives on for years to come. Moreover, while gold paint looks gold in color, it can’t replicate the absolute brilliance and shine of real gold sheets.

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