How to Put Silver Leaf on Furniture in 8 Steps

Putting silver leaf on furniture can modernize an old and outdated piece. If you have an antique dresser or table that you’ve been looking to refinish and revitalize, silver leafing offers the perfect opportunity to enhance its appearance. Many people don’t try to apply silver or gold leaf because they are worried that the process is above their skill level. However, it is actually something that just about anyone can do with the right tools and a little bit of patience. Read on to learn how to silver leaf furniture.

Can You Use Silver Leaf on Furniture?

Yes, you can apply silver leaf to furniture. With the right adhesive size, silver leaf can be applied to a variety of surfaces. These surfaces include wood, glass, metal, ceramic, or even stone. 

Why Silver Leaf Furniture?

There are so many reasons to consider applying silver leaf to your furniture. First, applying silver leaf to a piece of furniture, such as a desk or table, can enhance its appearance and help make it a better fit for your space. For example, if you prefer modern decor, that antique wooden desk in your office may not offer the ideal fit for your space. Try adding some silver leafing to the drawers or edges of the desk. This can completely change its appearance and help it fit better in your space.

Applying silver leaf can also help you refinish old or outdated furniture that would otherwise be unusable. Some older furniture items have too many scratches or cracks and need to be fixed and refinished before they can be used again. Adding silver or gold leaf sheets during the refinishing project can help you transform the look of the piece as you breathe new life into it.

You can also use silver to add decorative accents to a piece of furniture, turning it into a piece of art. Rather than making the entire facade of a dresser straight silver leaf, consider designing a pattern and using silver leaf and some vibrant paint colors to bring the pattern to life.

The possibilities for silver leaf furniture are endless. Use your imagination and decor preferences to come up with a vision for your project. Then, follow the steps below to turn that vision into reality.

How to put silver leaf on furniture.

How to Silver Leaf Furniture

OK, are you ready to learn how to use silver leaf to help your furniture match your vision? Read through the steps below, and keep in mind that practice makes perfect. If you’ve never worked with silver leaf before, you may want to practice with an easier project, such as applying leafing to a canvas or vase.

Plan Your Project

Before you can begin applying silver leaf to furniture, you will want to plan out your project. Think about which piece of furniture you want to apply the silver leafing to. Which parts of the furniture will you cover? Do you want to make the entire piece silver? Just a few sections? Would you prefer to make a design and apply silver leaf on that? These are all important questions to consider to help you decide exactly what you’re doing and make sure you purchase the right materials.

Gather Supplies

After you have a plan in place, the next step is to gather the supplies you’ll need for the project. The supplies may vary a bit depending on the exact nature of the project. However, here is a general overview of what you’ll need:

  • Primer and/or paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Silver leaf sheets
  • Adhesive size
  • Brushes for burnishing and removing excess size
  • Sealant
Use metal leaf gilding adhesive when putting silver leaf on furniture.

Prepare Your Workspace

Now that you have all of your materials together, it is time to prepare your workspace. Silver leaf is very lightweight and can easily blow around. Choose a low-traffic area inside your house or garage where you can work without interruptions. Close the windows and turn off any fans to help prevent the leaves from blowing around. You may also want to lay a tarp out under the piece of furniture. This will help catch drips and the little pieces of silver that come off throughout the process.

Prepare the Furniture

Preparing the furniture is next. Start by removing any hardware, such as drawer pulls, from the piece. If the furniture has any peeling or chipping paint, you will want to remove it using a scraper or a paint stripper, if necessary.

It will also be important to sand the furniture to provide a smooth surface for applying the silver leaf. After sanding the wood, use a microfiber cloth to dust the piece and remove any debris or dirt that remains.

Once these steps have been completed, you can apply a primer or base paint to the surface where you intend to place the silver leaf. Blue paint beneath silver leaf can help the silver color look more vibrant. 

After painting or applying primer, give the piece a minimum of 24 hours to fully dry. Consult the can of paint you used to ensure this is adequate time for the paint to cure; you don’t want to begin applying silver leaf if the paint is even slightly damp.

Apply Adhesive Size

Once the paint has cured, apply a thin and even layer of adhesive size. You may want to start with just a small section of the furniture at a time, depending on its size and how experienced you are. Wait for the adhesive to become tacky, which can take a few minutes (consult the specific adhesive you are using to confirm the time it should take to come to tack).

Apply Silver Leaf on Furniture

Now, you’re ready for the fun part of applying the sheets of silver leaf. Work slowly and carefully during this process. Start with the flatter sections of the furniture, then you can move on to the legs and other more intricate areas. 

Use transfer paper or tissue paper to move the silver leaf over the adhesive size (you should not use bare hands as it could damage the leaf). Press down on the leaf with tissue paper to get it to adhere to the surface. Continue these steps with the other silver leaf sheets, slightly overlapping each sheet to ensure full coverage.

Learning how to put silver leaf on furniture can be an exciting process.

Remove Excess Leaf

Use a soft-bristled brush to burnish the finish and get rid of the excess leaf. Use gentle pressure, taking care not to brush too hard and damage the finish. After completing this step, check for any gaps and apply new adhesive size and more silver leaf to fill them in.

Seal the Furniture

Unlike pure gold leaf that doesn’t tarnish, silver leaf will tarnish. For this reason, it is important to finish the project with a coat of varnish or sealant. Give the sealant plenty of time to cure. Now you are all finished, and you can begin enjoying your beautiful silver-leafed furniture piece.

Silver Leafing Furniture: Give It a Try!

If you’ve been wondering how to put silver leaf on furniture and whether it is something you could actually do yourself, we hope you feel inspired to give it a try. Use the tutorial shared above to help guide you through the process of your first silver leafing furniture project—we think you’ll be amazed by what you’re able to create.

FAQs

Can you silver leaf furniture?

Yes, you can apply silver leaf to furniture. Applying silver leaf to tables, dressers, and other furniture pieces can help you take an old piece and make it like new again. 

Do you need to seal silver leaf?

Silver leaf can tarnish or oxidize if it is not sealed. For this reason, it is important to apply a protectant sealant after silver leafing furniture.

Can you use gold leaf on furniture?

Yes, you can apply gold leaf to furniture. The process of gold-leafing furniture will follow the steps outlined above for applying silver leaf.