If you’re at all familiar with gilding, you know what a transformative effect it can have on furniture, glass, walls, and more. Learning how to gild on stone, however, may seem like it is a bit too daunting to try. After all, stone can be rougher, which would make it more difficult to get the gold leaf to adhere properly. However, gilding on stone is not impossible and probably not even as difficult as you may think it is. If you want to add some shine to your stone countertops, a loved one’s headstone, or any other stone surface, you’re in the right place. Continue reading to learn how to gild on stone.

Can You Gild on Stone?

The first question you probably have is whether you can even gild on stone. The answer is yes. Applying gold leaf to stone surfaces is possible. There are a few special steps you’ll want to take, which we’ll get into later, but overall the process will be similar to gilding on other surface types.

Why Gild on Stone?

There are a number of reasons why you (or someone else) may be interested in gilding on stone. Gold is a beautiful accent that can create some impressive DIY crafts, home projects, and more. Whether you’re looking for golden leaf granite or marble, want to add some gold leaf to rocks to make them sparkle and shine, or want to celebrate the life of a family member by adding some gold leafing to their headstone, you’ll want to learn how to properly gild on stone.

Learning how to gild on stone can be an exciting process.

What You’ll Need to Gild on Stone

Before you’ll be able to start your gilding project, you will need to gather all the materials you will need. Below is a list of what you will want to have ready for your gilding project:

  • Stone item to be gilded
  • High-quality primer
  • Adhesive size
  • Gold leaf sheets
  • Tissue paper (or transfer leaf sheets)
  • Squirrel mop brush
  • Clear coat sealer (only for some projects)

How to Gild on Stone

The next few sections will help you learn how to gild on stone surfaces. Gilding on stone follows the same general process used to gild on other materials, such as wood, metal, or ceramic.

Prepare the Surface

You cannot start gilding on stone until the surface is ready. In order for the gold leaf to stick to the surface, the stone will need to be completely smooth. The first thing you should do to ensure a smooth surface is to clean the stone. Remove any dust or other debris from it. Then, apply a high-quality primer over the freshly cleaned stone. Choosing a primer that is specifically designed for gilding and use under a gilding adhesive is advised. A red or ochre primer color will be ideal for use under the gold leaf to achieve the best final appearance.

Apply Adhesive Size

The next step for stone gilding is to apply the gilding size. Choose an oil-based adhesive size for use with stone, and apply just a small amount over the surface. Take care to apply a thin and even layer for the best results.

metal leaf gilding adhesive

Wait for the Adhesive Size to Come to Tack

After the size has been applied to the stone surface, it is essential to wait for it to come to tack. You want it to feel like the back of a sticky note-dry and sticky, but not still wet.

Apply Leafing

Now that the size has some to tack, you are ready to apply gold leaf to the stone. Alternatively, depending on your project, you may also use imitation gold leaf, silver leaf, copper leaf, or metal leaf. However, please note that if you are working on an exterior project, working with pure gold leaf that is at least 23 karats is best. Genuine gold leaf does not tarnish, unlike other metals, which makes it ideal for exterior projects.

To apply the gold leaf over the stone, use transfer paper or tissue paper to avoid getting the oils from your skin on the leaf. With the tissue paper still over the back of the gold, rub it gently over the stone to get it to adhere to the size. Repeat these steps until the desired surface is covered, taking care to overlap the pieces slightly to avoid gaps.

Genuine gold leaf can be used to help you learn how to gild on stone.

Burnish and Remove Excess Leaf

Remove loose gold leaf and burnish the surface by gently rubbing a brush over the stone. This process will also help you see if there are any areas that require a quick touch-up with more adhesive size and gold leaf.

Seal the Stone

In some cases, you may need to seal the gold from the stone. Applying a thin coat of sealant is necessary when working with other metals or a gold leaf with a lower purity level. However, it is not needed when working with 23- or 24-karat gold leaf, as gold does not tarnish.

Give Gilding on Stone a Try Today

Creating a real gold stone doesn’t have to be just a dream. You can make it a reality by following the steps and suggestions shared above. Now that you know how to gild on stone, what projects are you ready to try?

FAQs

How do you put gold on a stone?

Before applying gold leaf to a stone, the surface has to be properly prepared. It must be completely smoothed down and wiped clean to ensure that there is no dust, grease, or other debris on it. Once the surface is prepared, apply the adhesive gilding size and let it come to tack. Then, carefully transfer the gold leaf over the tack and put it in place on the stone. Next, use a squirrel mop brush to burnish the surface and remove any excess gold leaf. Finish the process by adding a coat of sealant for interior projects where gold leaf with a purity level below 23 karats was used.

What are the 3 methods of gilding?

The three main gilding techniques include water gilding, gilding using a water-based adhesive, and gilding using an oil-based adhesive. The best method to use will depend on your surface type (glass, wood, metal, stone, etc.), your skill level, and other factors, such as the project type.

What is the process of gilding?

The process of gilding involves applying gold leaf to the surface of an item. Once the surface is prepared and smooth, an oil-based or water-based adhesive should be applied and allowed to come to tack. Then, the gold leaf sheets (or silver, copper, metal leaf, etc.) are placed over the tacky adhesive, taking care to cover the entire surface. Next, the surface should be burnished, and the excess gold should be removed. In some cases, a sealant should be applied, though this isn’t necessary if the gold is at least 23 karats.