A silver leaf ceiling conveys a message of style and is an interior designer’s dream. Silver leaf can be used casually but it can also give off a fancy feel that provides just the right amount of glitz without feeling too overwhelming, especially in small spaces.

So, how can you pull off this striking look? It might be simpler than you think. Using only a few tools, you too can start creating superior gilded results using high quality silver leaf (or even gold leaf if you desire)!

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silver leaf ceiling

Silver Leaf on Ceilings

Silver leaf ceilings aren’t a very common sight to behold, but when you see one, it’s sure to draw plenty of oohh’s and aahh’s. Like most gilded items, gilded ceilings offer unique charm that is individual and unique to any painted colored surface one might choose for a room.

A benefit of using silver leaf on ceilings is that there are very few design limitations. Since gold leaf and silver leaf can adhere to virtually any surface with the right adhesive, you can trust that this type of metal leaf can serve a variety of purposes to form impressive designs that will appear expensive and finely crafted.

Silver Leaf Gilding On Ceilings

To begin the process of silver leaf ceiling gilding, you’ll need the following tools. Note that some of these tools are optional or “good to have”, while others are essential. The tools marked with an asterisk may not always be required, but they often make for a better outcome when used properly.

The tools needed to perform gilding on ceilings include:


  • Prepare your work surface by covering the floor with a drop cloth.
  • Begin by smoothing down the surface of your ceiling and repainting/removing old paint that may be present. You can lay metal leaf over existing paint, however, you must ensure a smooth surface before doing so.
  • Once the surface is smooth and free of debris, apply your primer. Your primer may come in a variety of colors, but we suggest using a gray-tinged primer for optimal sheen concerning your silver leaf. If you are using gold leaf, try using a yellow or red-tinged primer.
  • Once the primer has dried you can apply the adhesive. Adhesive used in gilding is often referred to as “size”. Choose between oil based sizing and water based sizing, depending on your needs. For interior application, either or is fine. Exterior application must use oil size as it is the only suitable adhesive for outdoor use.
  • Apply your adhesive with a clean brush. Allow the adhesive to dry a bit before moving onto the gilding process. The size should be tacky but not too wet. You should also avoid allowing the adhesive to become too dry. Read the instructions on the label to know exactly how long your tack times or “open times” will be.
  • To apply your imitation or genuine leaf, wear white cotton gloves to peel the leaf carefully from its backing (if it has a backing). Some like to leave the wax paper it rests upon halfway on for added support. Carefully lay the leaf onto the raised or flat surface that contains adhesive size. Use a high quality brush to set in all the leaves and to help you clear away excess leaf pieces. This is best done with natural hair brushes but can also be achieved with faux brushes if you are in a pinch.
  • Once all areas are covered, and you have already attempted to remove excess leaf, you should address any missed or void areas by using leftover or new pieces of metal leaf to fill in the gaps.
  • Once finished, allow the gilt ceiling to dry.
  • Once completely dry, you should apply a coat sealer, assuming that you haven’t just laid genuine gold. Know that while other metal leaf types, such as silver and copper require a sealant to prevent tarnishing, genuine gold does not. In fact, sealing genuine gold will cause it to change over time. Therefore, it is recommended that you always avoid sealing genuine gold, even for ceilings.
  • Once the varnish has been laid, your silver gilt ceiling is complete. When repairing silver leaf ceilings, be sure to use the steps and tools as detailed above, but only for the areas that need touch ups. Don’t forget to apply a top coat or varnish at the end.

Silver Leaf Ceiling: More Stunning Than Decorative Paint!

Though applying silver leaf to your ceiling may not be the home renovation project on everyone’s mind, taking on this stunning project can add the right amount of depth and glint to a room to give it a wonderfully distinctive look and feel. When applying metal leaf to ceilings, you’ll abide by many of the same principles you’d comply with for other gilding projects except, of course, this time you’ll need a ladder to get the job done.

This project is ideally suited for the person fairly skilled in gilding, as it will take a steady hand to apply genuine gold or silver to a smooth surface evenly. Still, this is a project worthy of taking on, and the previously mentioned steps should lead you that much closer to achieving the ceiling of your dreams.

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