You may wonder if you need to use metal leaf sealer when using gold leaf or metal leaf. The answer? That depends. There are many reasons you may or may not wish to use a metal leaf sealer or varnish, and in this post, we aim to tell you why.

Stick around to learn more. We’re delving deep into this topic right now!

Metal Leaf Sealer – Your Complete Guide

Table of Contents

What Is a Metal Leaf Sealer?

Metal leaf sealer works as a protectant. It’s much like a glaze that is specially formulated to help guard against weather elements along with the normal wear and tear of daily life.

You can apply metal leaf sealer easily to prevent metal leafing projects not only from the wear and tear we mentioned but also from tarnishing.

Some types of metal leaf work will need to be sealed to protect its physical beauty, but you should be careful which types of metal leaf you seal. Not all metal leaf types fare well with sealer or varnish. Thus, you’ll need to determine whether applying a water based sealer or varnish is actually the best option for you.

Do You Have to Seal Metal Leaf?

There are some cases in which you will need to seal metal leaf and some you won’t.

As a rule of thumb, you should always seal any metal leaf made of copper, silver, or imitation metal (including imitation gold). If you are using genuine gold, you should not seal the leaf.

Sealing genuine gold that is between 23 karats and 24 karats will actually do more harm than good. Because pure gold does not tarnish after being applied, you do not have to worry about applying a sealer over it. In fact, if you do choose to seal the metal leaf, you’ll likely find that the pure gold metal finish changes color over time, making it unattractive to the eye possibly within only a few years.

What Can I Use to Seal Metal Leaf?

You can use a variety of products to seal metal leaves.

You’ll want to look for products like Mona Lisa Metal Leaf Sealer or acrylic top coat sealers for purchase at the store. Alternatively, you can look for products marketed as “varnish”. These, too, will give your gilded project a smooth glossy texture that will work to protect your metal leaf project.

But remember, you should never apply these products to pure gold leaf.

How to Use Metal Leaf Sealer

  1. In order to use metal leaf sealer, simply apply the glaze after you’ve laid down your metal leaf.
  2. In most cases, you’ll want to apply your adhesive (otherwise known as “size”) to your prepared surface first.
  3. Then add your metal leaf, and then apply your varnish or topcoat once your metal leaf and adhesive have dried.

How Long Does a Metal Leaf Sealer Take to Dry?

Most will recommend that you wait at least 24 hours after your last applied coat before fully utilizing or displaying your gilded project.

Feel free to read the package directions to confirm this is true before use. There may be variances between product item dry times.

What Happens If I Don’t Use Metal Leaf Sealer?

If you aren’t using pure gold leaf and neglect to apply metal leaf sealer, you’ll risk allowing your metal leaf to tarnish which will ruin the work and effort you put into laying your metal leaf. You should always use metal leaf sealer on any project that you’ve applied non-gold metal leaf to.

The only exception is if the gold leaf you are using is an imitation leaf or is less than 23 karat gold. In that case, you will still need to use sealant, despite the fact that the leaf is made of gold.

Remember also that you should use no sealant at all when using edible gold leaf on food. This goes without saying, but we thought we’d mention it anyway … just in case!

Do I Have to Use Metal Leaf Sealer? It Depends!

Whether or not you’ll need to use metal leaf sealer will depend on the type of metal leaf you use. While genuine 23-24 karat gold will not need sealing, anything lesser than that or of a different metal type will. Remember that using a varnish or top coat on pure gold metal leaf anyway will lead to discoloration and an unsightly appearance.

Metal leaf sealer makes for an easy way to protect, clean, and care for your gilded project after metal leaf has been laid.

We hope this helps!


How long before the sealer can get wet?

Wait at least 24 hours for your sealant to dry before getting it wet.

What can be used as a sealer for metal leaves?

Varnish, acrylic top coat, and metal leaf sealant are all popular choices.

Best sealer for imitation gold leaf?

Many gilders like the results they’ve gained from Mona Lisa metal leaf sealer. As for pure gold, the best sealant is no sealant at all!

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