Exterior Gilding

Exterior Gold Leafing Techniques
Practical information for completing your exterior gilding project with expertise, and durability.

Purchase Ribbon Leaf for large area surfaces!

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Gilding Features

7 Essential Steps for Perfect Gilding
Gold Leaf Techniques
Silver Leafing Techniques
Exterior Gilding
Gilding Ceilings
Gilding Terms
Gilding Books
Antiquing Methods
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Sepp Metal Composition Leaf  books gold pack of 20

Metal Composition Leaf Packs -
20 Books
Gold - Aluminum - Copper

Made from various metallic alloys that simulate gold or silver. Items covered with imitation leaf will tarnish unless they are varnished or sealed. Sheets of imitation leaf are approximately 5 in. x 5 in. 25 sheets per book, 20 books to a pack. Copper leaf is genuine copper.



Gilded Accents on Furniture and cabinetry

Add Gold Leaf
accents to furniture, wall panels and more!

More techniques
Color washing
Glazing techniques 
Rag rolling 
Wood graining 
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Dragging techniques 
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Style archives
Preparation of surfaces
Know your materials

Gilding: Easy Techniques & Elegant Projects With Metal Leaf

Gilding: Easy Techniques & Elegant Projects With Metal Leaf

Decorating with gold accents can add sophistication, dimension, and importance, not just to the object it embellishes, but to an entire room.

Gilding Kits

Includes all the tools and materials to apply imitation gold leaf. Set contains one 4 oz. bottle of Gilding Size, natural hair brush, cotton and mixing sticks, wet/dry paper and book of leaf. Water-based. Each book contains 25 leaves.
Each leaf is 5.5" x 5.5" square. Approx coverage is 5.25 sq. ft.



Masking tip: 
Always test an area to be taped before beginning the masking job. Wallpaper is particularly susceptible to tearing. Lacquer and varnish surfaces on furniture may come off easily with the tape and the item could be severely damaged.

Gilding terms

Bole - Traditionally, bole is a term that identifies a pigmented clay. This clay acts as the base, or cushion, for the subsequent layer of gold leaf. Classically terre-cotta in color, the clay can be built up quickly, then polished to a very smooth surface. 

Contemporary gilding does not use clay, but simulates the effect by adding a colored paint that replicates the clay effect.

Size - General term used to identify the adhesive that attaches the leaf to a surface. 

There are different types of size, depending on the form of gilding. 

Water gilding uses a gelatin size.
Oil gilding (most common ) uses a oil-based size.
Acrylic gilding uses a water based size.

Holiday - A gilders term that refers to an area were the leaf did not initially adhere.

Tack - Refers to the state of the adhesive size. Proper tack for gilding is the point when the size is not longer wet, but not fully dry, hence it is 'tacky' or just slightly sticky.

Skewings - The bits of leaf that are left over after a surface has been completely gilded. Skewings can be saved for other projects, making excellent fillers for patching holidays.


This antiquing glaze creates the soft glow of slightly tarnished silver.

Learn more about
Silver Leaf Methods


"Techniques vary, art stays the same" 

- Claude Monet  1840-1926




The Antique Corner

The Antique Corner

Adding the finishing touches to your furniture, decorative object or gilt surface requires just the right know-how. artSparx delivers the expertise to give your project a sophisticated finish with an extra glow.

Exclusively at artSparx!

Setting up a production line can be a great method for gilding numerous objects at once, limiting you 'down' time while your size comes to tack.



How to Gild Ceilings and large area surfaces
Walls, panels and architectural areas.


These simple
guidelines will help you produce a professionally finished, large surface area, gilded project.

Gilding Ceilings and large area surfaces - walls and panels.

Basic Preparation
Applying the adhesive Sizing
Applying the Leaf
Touching Up Surface
Sealing your gilt surface
Antiquing Methods
About Materials
Exterior Gilding Basics

Gilded ceilings, walls and large surface areas has never been easier. Genuine Gold, silver and metal leaf like Imitation Gold, Aluminum and Copper are now readily available in rolls, also referred to as Ribbon Leaf, cutting your production time in half and creating superior gilded results. The following tutorial describes the step-by-step techniques involved in gilding a ceiling with Silver Leaf. The same principles apply to using any form of leaf on a roll, whether it is Imitation Gold leaf, Aluminum, Copper or Genuine Gold.

Basic Preparation

The working surface should be as smooth as possible. 2 coats of high quality primer should be applied, followed by 2 coats finished paint. The base color for the finished paint layer varies depending on your project requirements. A Latex Eggshell finish will provide superior results. To determine a color that is right for your project, visit the Gilded Planet Color learning center.

Applying the Adhesive Sizing

Using a water based size, such as Wunda Size or Aqua Size, allows for easy application and clean-up and extended 'tack' time, allowing you to apply your leaf in a less hurried manner. To learn more about water-based sizes and their properties visit the Water Size Center.
Apply the adhesive size with a short nap roller. While it is still wet, use a high quality brush and soften and smooth the size evenly over the surface. With water-based size, allow to come to 'tack' in approximately 1/2 hour. 'Tack' time for oil based sizing varies depending on the type of size used and environmental conditions, such as temperature and humidity. For more information on oil-based sizes visit the Oil Size Center.

Applying the Leaf

When working on large surface areas it is recommended that you use Ribbon Leaf. This is available in a variety of leaf types (visit the Ribbon Leaf Center for more details) and comes in a continuous roll of  individual leaves laid back-to-back, making straight and long runs easily manageable.

Carefully apply a strip of leaf, working with one long strip, from end to end, or in smaller segments, depending on your surface area. It helps to work with 2 people, one holding the paper while the other carefully places the leaf in place.


Gilding products at artSparx and Gildedplanet.com!

Silver Leaf in Rolls

Gold Leaf in Rolls

About Ribbon Leaf

Ribbon Gold Leaf is manufactured by placing 4 1/8" square leaves onto a continuous length of waxed paper with a 2mm overlap. The rolled paper and the cardboard core are equal in width and the gold leaf is placed inside the edge of the paper.  Ribbon Leaf can be trimmed to any size required. When trimmed, the gold leaf and paper are cut to produce a clean edge of gold and paper of the exact width.

Genuine Gold Leaf Rolls Silver Leaf Rolls Palladium Leaf Rolls
Imitation Gold Leaf Rolls Aluminum Leaf Rolls Copper Leaf Rolls

After applying the leaf to the 'sized' surface, use a soft 'Squirrel mop' gilder's brush and rub over the paper backing to insure all the leaf is attached to the surface. You can gently rub the paper backing with your fingers also - if you are careful and do not allow the paper backing to move or scratch the leaf surface.

Gentle remove the paper from the leaf, using a 'Squirrel mop' gilder's brush. Make sure there are no air bubbles and the leaf is firmly attached to the working surface.

Peel the paper backing off slowly and carefully.

Touching Up Holidays

'Burnish' the surface to remove and excess leaf, known as skewings. Use your soft 'Squirrel mop' gilder's brush so you do not scratch and dull the leaf surface.


Touch up 'holidays' (missed spots) with scrap pieces of your leaf on paper. Followed by a light brushing again to remove any excess and loose leaf bits.

Gold Leaf Basics

Leaf Size Details
Leaf Coverage
Alloys and Karats
Types of Leaf


Sealing and Finishing Off

Apply water-based varnish, such as Rolco Acrylic Topcoat, using a short nap roller. While this is still wet, soften with a high quality brush. Rolco's Acrylic Topcoat is a non-reactive, premium water clear sealer for genuine and metal leaf. Made from acrylic copolymers, Acrylic Topcoat provides protection from abrasion, water and ultra violet light.


Soften the varnish using a high quality brush. Brush in a criss-cross pattern to smooth surface evenly.

About Materials

Adhesive Sizing - Gilded Planet Size and Adhesive Center
Water Based - Wunda Size or Aqua Size
Oil Based - Rolco or LeFranc 3hr and 12 hr size

Genuine and Metal Leaf on the Roll Ribbon Leaf
Genuine Gold Leaf Rolls, Silver Leaf Rolls, Palladium Leaf Rolls, Imitation Gold Leaf Rolls, Aluminum Leaf Rolls, Copper Leaf Rolls

Gilder's Brushes - Squirrel mop

Sealers and Top Coat - Rolco Acrylic Topcoat - (available in High gloss and Semi-gloss). Rolco's Acrylic Topcoat is a non-reactive, premium water clear sealer for genuine and metal leaf. Made from acrylic copolymers, Acrylic Topcoat provides protection from abrasion, water and ultra violet light.


What is bole?

This base color is also referred to as the 'Bole' color. Traditionally, bole was made from clay. Today paint is typically substituted.
One can experiment with different colors and your choice will affect the overall appearance of the finished product. For example, the traditional terra-cotta color adds warmth to both gold and silver leaf. A black 'bole' color creates a hard, cold look - often appropriate for Art Deco pieces, and the like. A yellow 'bole' color evens out the overall appearance, and diminishes any cracks or 'holidays' on the gilded surface.

Special Feature - About gilding products

Aluminum Leaf

Purchase Aluminum and Genuine Silver Leaf.
Also available in rolls!

Dutch Gold or
Composition Leaf

Purchase Imitation and Genuine Gold Leaf.
Also available in rolls!

Aluminum Leaf imitates the illusion of genuine Silver, at a fraction of the cost. Each individual sheet is bigger and easier to handle then its genuine counter part.

The same applies for 'Dutch Gold', or 'Composition Leaf'. But due to the large brass content, this imitation gold must have a sealer applied to prevent tarnishing, unlike genuine gold leaf.


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