How to Apply Gold Leaf to Your Favorite DIY Projects

Use this easy DIY technique to add shimmer to any decor by learning how to gold leaf.

Give your home a little luxury and shine with gold leaf. The inexpensive craft supply adds a hint of glamour to anything it is applied to, whether a vase, holiday accents, or a piece of furniture. Plus, it's made with real gold for that perfect metallic sheen. The precious metal has been hammered into extremely thin sheets available in various karats and colors. The flexibility and thinness of the gold metal sheets make it an easy material to DIY with.

This step-by-step guide features a budget friendly DIY with dollar-store plates. Each plate will have a unique look by creating an organic geometric pattern. However, you can repeat the technique on most items. However, note that gold leaf is not food safe. Any plates you DIY shouldn't be eaten off of, but used solely as a decorative item.

gold leaf plate


How to Apply Gold Leaf

Use our step-by-step guide to decorate your DIY projects with gold leaf.

What You Need

  • Metal leaf kit (make sure it includes an adhesive, a sealer, and sheets of gold leaf)
  • Paintbrush
  • Plate (or other decor item)
  • Optional: gentle cleanser, fine-grit sandpaper, thin cotton gloves

Step 1: Clean the Surface

Prepare your plate or another decor item by cleaning and/or sanding the surface you plan to embellish. If your item has a more porous surface, you may need to apply a sealer before starting with the gold leaf.

plate and paintbrush


Step 2: Brush on Adhesive

Grab your paintbrush and jar of adhesive and apply a smooth coat on the item in your desired design. Wait for the adhesive to dry until it becomes slightly tacky.

scissors with gold leaf on a plate

Better Homes & Gardens / Adam Albright

Step 3: Apply Metal Leaf

Take your sheets of gold metal leaf and place them on the areas containing the adhesive. Since the sheets of metal leaf are very thin and tear easily, consider wearing soft cotton gloves for easier application. Use your fingers to smooth the gold leaf flat on the adhesive strips to prevent bubbles or divots.

Step 4: Remove Unused Leaf

Smooth wrinkles with your fingers or a clean, dry paintbrush. Trim the excess gold leaf around the edges of the plate. Due to the delicate nature of gold leaf, be careful not to damage the edges of your plate design when removing additional material. You can discard your leftover gold leaf or save for a future project.

Step 5: Apply Sealer

Once you're happy with the final gold leaf design, apply the sealer. This will protect and permanently set the gold leaf to your DIY project.

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