How to Gold Leaf

Add shimmer to your decor by learning how to gold leaf. This easy DIY technique can be used on many surfaces. See how it's done!

Gold leaf adds a hint of glamour to anything it is applied to, whether that be a vase, picture frame, or furniture. To show you how to apply gold leaf, we embellished dollar-store plates with graffiti-like slashes of gold leaf. Because gold leaf is not food-safe, these plates are intended for display only. Master the technique with our step-by-step instructions below.

Decorating With Gold

Gold leaf plate

What You Need

  • Metal leaf kit (we used the basic Speedball Mona Lisa gold leaf kit) that includes:
    • Adhesive
    • Sealer
    • 5 1/2-inch-square sheets of imitation gold leaf
  • Paintbrush
  • Optional: gentle cleanser, fine-grit sandpaper, thin cotton gloves

Step 1: Clean the Surface

Clean and/or sand the surface to be embellished. Porous surfaces may need to be sealed before you apply metal leaf.

Step 2: Brush on Adhesive

Brushing adhesive on plate

Brush on adhesive in a smooth coat in desired design, and let dry just until tacky.

Step 3: Apply Metal Leaf

Applying gold leaf to plate

Apply metal leaf. Because sheets of metal leaf are very thin and tear easily, consider wearing soft cotton gloves. Gently smooth the leaf over areas of adhesive.

Step 4: Remove Unused Leaf

Smooth wrinkles with your fingers or a clean, dry paintbrush. Discard unused leaf, but be careful not to damage the edges of the desired design. Apply clear sealer to the plate.

Next Project: Gold Stenciled Bee Plates

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