Gilding on wall and large area surfaces          

Gilding Walls

These simple guidelines will help you produce a professionally finished gilt wall, ceiling or large area surface.

Genuine Gold and Silver, Imitation Gold, Imitation Silver and Copper leaf ceilings

Video Special

A step-by-step educational series. Gilding tutorials and gilding information for the beginner, intermediate and advanced gilder.

Ribbon leaf application to ceilings and large area wall surface - This detailed demonstration shows you how to apply genuine gold, silver, imitation gold, aluminum and copper leaf to ceilings and walls using ribbon leaf - or rolls of leaf.


Gilding Walls Step-by-Step

Gilded walls and large surface areas has never been easier!

Ideally suited for large flat areas. Genuine Gold, Silver and Metal Leaf 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.

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


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 sheen paint will provide superior results.

For Silver and Imitation Silver we generally use a medium grey color.

For Gold and Imitation Gold a yellow/ochre color is often selected.


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.


Testing the Tack

When using Water based adhesive:

When using a water based size your 'tack' will be ready in 30 mins and will stay 'open' or tacky, for up to 30 hours allowing you to apply your leaf in an unhurried 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.

When using Oil based adhesive:

This is perhaps the most important phase in achieving a properly gilt surface, and determining the proper 'tack' time of adhesive sizing will result in the professional finish you are after. As your 'size' dries it naturally goes from a wet to a dry state. The proper time to apply your leaf is when the 'size' is not wet but 'tacky', just before it dries completely. Using the back of your knuckle, carefully rub over the drying size and listen for a 'squeak'. If it is too wet, it will tug on your skin,. If too dry is will fell like a sealed varnish surface. View the video tutorial above for more information.

Quick-Dry Oil Size will reach tack in approx. 2 hours and will remain open for gilding for 2 to 3 hours. In very dry and warm environments, it may reach tack in as little as 1 hour and the open time for gilding may be greatly reduced. It produces excellent results with genuine and metal leaf and is recommended for small projects or when time is limited. Allow to cure for 24 hours before sealing. Download complete specification sheet for this product.

Slow-Set Oil Size is recommended for projects that may require a longer open time for gilding than Quick-Dry will allow. It will reach proper gilding tack in 10-12 hours and will remain open for gilding with genuine or metal leaf for an equal amount of time. The open time for gilding with metal leaf is usually less, as it is with other oil sizes. Allow to cure minimum of two weeks before sealing.


Using Ribbon Leaf

Also known as 'rolls of leaf'

When working on large surface areas it is recommended that you use Ribbon Leaf. This is available in a variety of leaf types, including Imitation Gold, Imitation Silver, Copper and Genuine Gold ribbon leaf. Each roll comes as a continuous roll of individual leaves laid back-to-back with a 2mm overlap. It ideal for large, flat areas, making straight and long runs easily manageable.

Watch a short video explaining the different types of packaging for metal and genuine leaf - Loose Leaf - Patent Leaf - Ribbon Leaf.


Applying the Leaf

'Loose' leaf or 'surface' leaf. Arch the book to help manuveur to the surface.

Surface leaf: Placing a book of leaf in your hand, carefully fold back the protective paper to expose the imitation gold leaf. Lay the leaf onto the sized area and 'roll' out the leaf. Hold firmly and carefully. Attach leaf to surface.

Patent Leaf: Carefully remove a single sheet of imitation gold leaf transfer paper and gently apply to your surface. Rub over the back of the paper with a gilder's brush, or gently with your fingers. Carefully remove the paper to leave the imitation gold leaf adhered to the surface. Continue in this manner.

A;ways work from the bottom towards the top.


Finishing Off

A holiday is the term used to refer to missed or void areas in the leafed surface. This can happen because an area was missed during the adhesive size application. Or a leafed area was not pressed firmly to the adhesive and the adhesive has dried, causing the leaf in that area to fall away when burnishing.

'Finish Off' or Burnish' the surface to remove and excess leaf, known as skewings.

A soft hair Squirrel mop brush is recommended to remove excess leaf and 'polish' the surface. Insure that there is full leaf coverage on your surface before cleaning with your mop brush. Once all the 'holidays' or gaps are filled with leaf, use the mop brush to dust off any excess leaf.

Be fairly comprehensve but leave a small amount of leaf dust. In otherwords, don't give an aggressive 'polish' directly after applying the leaf. The adhesive is still soft and your leaf may dull if you over work the brush. Allow to set up over night then come back and complete the final 'burnishing' the next day. You can complete this process by using your Mop brush and soft cotton, to remove any excess leaf pieces and create the finished, burnished leaf appearance.


Sealing the leafed surface

Apply a water-based varnish, such as 'Hydrocote Polysheild Clear topcoat', using a short nap roller. While this is still wet, soften with a high quality brush. Hydrocoate Polyshield Clear topcoat is a water based non-yellowing polyurethane sealer. This sealer is water clear with exceptional clarity. It dries quickly to a hard durable finish. It is resistant to water and marring when fully cured. Polyshield is UV stable which keeps it from yellowing over time. Even out the varnish using a high quality brush. Brush in a criss-cross pattern to smooth surface evenly.

Apply antique glaze - OPTIONAL. Antiquing and aging your leafed surface adds character and old world charm. For antiquing recipes for gilded surfaces visit the Antiquing Center.




Oil Gilding Video Tutorial

Quick Dry oil size gilding. This detailed demonstration shows you how to apply genuine gold, Silver, imitation gold, aluminum and copper leaf to objects and furniture using the classic 3 hour oil size method. Brought to you by the folks at gildedplanet.com, you'll learn about types of adhesive, testing for 'tack' and drying rates, easy leaf application tips and cleaning and burnishing the leaf.


parchment paint effect

Pre-mixed Glazes

Ready, set, GO!

Getting going with these premixed glazes. Select one of our pre-mixed glaze colors or create your own. We custom mix any color from all major paint manufacturers. Just pick your own color from any swatch book and let us know the paint name and number and we'll send you the right glaze - interior or exterior - custom matched to your liking.

Create classic effects such as colorwashing, dragging, striee, antiquing effects, furniture effects and much more!

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premixed color glaze for faux finishing


Featured Product Ideally suited for exterior applications.

Gold Leaf Kits - Oil based

Professional Gilding Kit - 23kt Gold Leaf. Each kit contains: Basic step-by-step instructions, one book 23kt Gold Leaf book (Patent leaf) one 4 oz. bottle of yellow/ochre oil based Gilding Primer, natural hair brush, one 4 oz jar of oil based gilding size, one 4 oz Acrylic Top Coat Sealer, cotton and mixing sticks, wet/dry paper and book of leaf. Solvent-based. Each Gold leaf book contains 25 leaves. Each leaf is 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" square. Approx coverage is 1.7 sqft.

UPS Ground shipment only.

Learn more and purchase sealers for gold leaf now.

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