If you’re interested in learning how to antique silver leaf, this is the post for you. To emulate natural physical distressing, you’ll need to use a few naturalistic methods as well as apply antique glazes to achieve the look you want. Choose from a variety of tools to get the antique gilded look you want, and use either silver leafing or gold leaf sheets as your base. Be careful when using imitation silver or imitation gold leaf, as these may prove more difficult to antique depending on the methods you use. Ready to learn more? Stick around. We’re uncovering the details on this interesting process right now.

How To Antique Silver Leaf

Table of Contents

What Is Antique Silver Plating?

Antique silver plating occurs when a thin layer of silver is applied to a portion of or entire surface before it is then aged using antique glaze or other antiquing methods. It usually starts with the process of applying silver leaf and then evolves from there with the application of other products to emulate a time worn appearance.

How Do You Make Silver Look Vintage?

Making vintage silver is relatively easy and only requires a few tools. Before we detail exactly how to go about it, it may help to know that genuine silver leaf sheets are often antiqued more easily than the imitation sort. This has a lot to do with the thickness of the sheets since imitation silver leaves tend to be thicker.

Still, you can apply an antiquing glaze to both types and essentially still achieve the aged patin appearance you’re looking for.

How Do I Antique Silver Leaf

How to Do an Antique Silver Finish?

Follow these steps for creating an antiqued silver surface.

To begin, you’ll need specific tools. For this process, we are assuming you’ve already laid your silver leaf and are currently working with a silver lain surface.

If you have not yet laid your silver leaf, please do so before beginning the antiqued silver process. You may also consider using decorative paint beneath the silver leaf you plan to antique, as our method of antiquing involves revealing the surface underneath.


  • Faux brushes including a flat mop for the application of the antique glaze. Alternatively, you can use gilding mops or natural hair brushes for the application of your antique glaze. Either option will work fine.
  • 0000 super fine steel wool pad
  • cheesecloth
  • clean cloth


  • Begin by preparing your workplace. Cover any exposed surfaces you plan to work on so that you can easily clean up after the antiqued silver process.
  • Start with your steel wool and cheesecloth. Wrap your steel wool in cheesecloth to slightly soften the abrasive nature of your steel wool. Gently rub your wrapped steel wool over the surface of the silver leaf. The goal is to create a lightly distressed look without removing too much of the silver. Do this until you are satisfied with the look. If you’d rather not scratch up the silver to reveal the base color, you can skip this step. Also, if your surface is covered in imitation silver leaf, you’ll notice that it will be much more difficult to distress. You can skip the steel wool task completely if you are antiquing an imitation leaf surface.
  • Follow up the distressing process by applying clear coat sealer with flat mops or other brush types. You’ve got many bristle options to choose from for this, so feel free to use the type you wish, depending on the nature of your process,
  • The next step is to apply the antiquing glaze. Use a flat brush to gently swipe your glaze over your sealed silver.
  • Once you’ve sealed the entire surface, use your clean cloth to gently buff away the remaining glaze. You can leave a thin layer of glaze over the silver leaf, depending on how you want the finished result to look.
  • That’s it! From here, you should allow your silver to dry and access any tweaks you might want to make to your antiquing project.

How to Antique Silver Leaf: It’s Easy!

For something so easy, antiquing silver leaf yields incredible results. Use steel wool and a bit of antique glaze to achieve that uniquely vintage look you’ve always wanted. Use these techniques over silver leaf covering wood, glass, metal, furniture, or a variety of other surfaces. We hope this helps.


What kind of glue to use on silver leaf?

You should use oil based or water based glue on silver leaf. Oil based adhesive or “size” is always best for any project used for outdoor use.

 Does vinegar tarnish silver?

Tarnishing is typically remediated with the use of vinegar; not caused by it.

 Does vinegar brighten silver?

Yes, vinegar can often work to remove tarnishing and thus brighten the look of silver.

Does silver leaf tarnish?

Yes. It is for this reason that it is crucial that you use a clear coat sealant after applying your silver leaf in order to deter tarnishing.

 How do you make silver look old?

Silver can be made to look old and worn simply by using antique glaze and may steel wool to perform natural distressing.

 How can I patina silver quickly?

You could cautiously use a bit of salt and ammonia to quickly patina any genuine silver you have,

 Does antique silver fade?

Antique silver may begin to fade or tarnish over time but there are things you can do to restore the silver to its natural shine.

How do you age silver naturally?

Try water salt and vinegar, or try putting your silver with a hard boiled egg yolk in a sealed plastic airtight bag to attempt to achieve a natural patina on silver metal.

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