As a lover of glam decor, I love furniture with metallic finishes. But I can’t always find (or afford) the pieces I want in a gold or silver version. So I decided to do my own by learning how to apply gold leaf for this Hollywood Regency bar makeover. And it’s much easier than I thought it would be!
When I decided to give my old bar a makeover, I loved the idea of applying gold leaf to the front of it. (Okay, faux gold leaf…I didn’t want to spend the money for the real thing).
But since it was my first time applying gold leaf sheets, I was pretty nervous about how it was going to turn out.
It seems like such a complicated process. But it really ended up being much easier than I thought!
Yes, the gold sheets are very delicate (they tear and wrinkle very easily!), but since I wasn’t looking for a perfectly smooth gold finish, I think that actually added to the look.
So here’s how to apply gold leaf to furniture.
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- Painter’s tape
- Foam brush
- Small disposable plastic container – this will be used to hold the adhesive so you’ll probably want to throw it away after.
How To Gold Leaf Furniture
Now we’re ready to actually start applying the gold leaf to the furniture.
Step 1 | Apply a Thin Layer of Adhesive
1. Use painter’s tape to tape off the area that the foil is being applied to. I didn’t do this step, but it would have made the job a lot easier.
2. Pour a little bit of the adhesive into a container that is large enough for the brush to fit in. You don’t need very much.
3. Cover the entire area with a thin layer of adhesive. Try to get it as thin and as evenly distributed as you can.
4. Let the adhesive sit for 20 or 30 minutes until it has turned clear but is still sticky. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make the gold foil stick, so don’t worry if you think it’s too dry…it’s likely still sticky enough.
Step 2 | Glue On the Gold Foil Sheets
1. Use the tissue paper to lift a gold sheet on to the sticky adhesive. I found that keeping the tissue paper covering the foil helped to keep it from tearing too much.
2. Pat the top of the tissue paper to make the gold foil stick to the glue.
Don’t worry too much if there are wrinkles at this point…this step is just to get the gold foil to stick.
3. Remove the tissue paper and use a piece of paper towel to gently rub across the top of the gold foil to smooth it out. This should remove any rough spots.
4. Repeat with other pieces of foil. Make sure they are not overlapping the first one (they won’t stick to the top of the other gold foil sheets).
Don’t worry if some of the gold leaf comes off or rips in the process…you can cover any holes with the next layers.
Step 3 | Add Some More Gold Leaf Layers
Apply more layers of gold foil to fill in the holes left by the previous layer.
To do this add another thin layer of adhesive over both the the gold foil and the blank spots. As before, wait for it dry until it is clear and then apply more gold sheets to fill in the spaces.
It will take a few layers to completely cover the area, but all those layers add depth to the finish.
Step 4 | Finish the Gold Foil Surface
1. The adhesive does dull the finish of the foil a little bit, so if you want it to have a more even look, you will want to do one of two things:
a. If you like the duller look, apply a final layer of adhesive on top of the final layer and wait for it to dry.
b. If you like the shinier look, use extra pieces of foil to cover all of the adhesive areas when you do the last layer.
After you have stuck everything down, remove the excess foil and use your paper towel to smooth everything out. (This is what I did with my cabinet).
2. Clean up all of the little bits of gold foil. I think this was the worst part of the whole process! Note to self: Don’t do gold leaf on a table that has grooves in it…you will end up with little bits of gold leaf stuck in all of them.
3. The last step is to spray on the foil leaf sealer. This protects the leaf from being chipped off. Wait until the adhesive has dried before doing this step.
Enjoy the Finished Gold Leaf Furniture
The finished doors have a rich gold finish to them.
The whole piece of furniture looks much more expensive than it actually was. (You can see the whole bar makeover project HERE.)
And the whole process only took an afternoon to complete!
These are the kind of DIY projects I love! Next, I think I’ll try something with silver leaf 🙂
Other Glam Decor Ideas You Might Like
- Easy DIY Copper Leaf Christmas Ornaments
- Glam DIY Fringe Patio Umbrella (No Sewing Required)
- Glamorous Decorating Ideas: 15 Easy Ways To Add Glamour To Your Home
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This post was originally published on September 5, 2016 but was updated with new content on August 12, 2021.