How To Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture

How to Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture
How to Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture

Last week I posted the updated version of my bar cabinet and promised that I would create a tutorial for how to do the gold leaf on the front of it.  Okay, they were faux gold…since it was a very inexpensive piece of furniture, I didn’t think it was worth spending the money for real gold 🙂

Since it was my first time applying gold leaf sheets, I was a little nervous about how it was going to turn out.  And I was surprised at how easy it ended up being!

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 finish.

Keep reading to find out how to apply gold leaf to furniture.

What You Need

Materials




Supplies



Apply a Thin Layer of Adhesive

Use a foam brush to apply a very thin line of adhesive
Use a foam brush to apply a very thin line 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.

Apply the adhesive in a very thin coat
Apply the adhesive in a very thin coat

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.

Stick On the Gold Leaf Sheets

Use the tissue paper to help keep the foil in one piece
Use the tissue paper to help keep the foil in one piece

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.

The gold leaf when it first goes on
The gold leaf when it first goes on

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.

The gold foil after
The gold foil after

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.

Place the gold foil sheets randomly
Place the gold foil sheets randomly

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 too much about wrinkles or rips
Don’t worry too much about wrinkles or rips

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.

Add Some More Layers

Apply faux gold foil sheets in layers
Apply faux gold foil sheets in layers

Apply more layers of gold foil to fill in the holes left by the previous layer.

Add another layer of adhesive
Add another layer of adhesive

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.

The gold foil adds some extra depth to the finish
The gold foil adds some extra depth to the finish

It will take a few layers to completely cover the area, but all those layers add depth to the finish.

Finishing the Surface

There is a difference in color where the adhesive is
There is a difference in color where the adhesive is

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.

Cover all adhesive areas with foil
Cover all adhesive areas with foil

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).

The worse part of this project is the clean up
The worse part of this project is the clean up

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 Product

Gold foil on the doors
Gold foil on the doors

The finished doors have a rich gold finish to them.

Gold foil on the doors
Gold foil on the doors

The whole piece of furniture looks much more expensive than it actually was.

How to Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture
How to Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture

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 🙂

Have comments or questions on How To Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture?  Tell us in the section below.

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5 Responses

  • Very pretty! Did you know you can do this using aluminum foil? Cut into squares and apply with an adhesive.Then burnish and seal.Years ago, I did bathroom walls this way using rubber cement for adhesive. There may be a better adhesive nowadays for this.( mod podge?) You can put the dull or the shiny side out, or you can alternate them.

    • Thanks, Julie! I had not thought of using aluminum foil, but that’s a great idea! I’ll have to come up with a project to try that out 🙂

    • Hiya Julie,

      I have done the aluminum foil paper on an old malamite book shelf in My Daughters room when She was ready to update Her room from a Princess theme to Teen chic!!
      She loved it so much She carted it off to College earlier this Fall!!
      With the thicker foil it was much easier to use than the tissue paper thin Metallic craft foils and was a stunning piece……
      I have used the craft foils many times on cards, small canvases, upcycling older vases, etc. The trick is to have a tray under everything to contain the mess!!
      Blessings from the North,
      xo Michelle
      PS Remember creating feeds YOUR SOUL!!

      • Michelle,
        I was referring to regular old grocery store aluminum foil in rolls. You don’t need to use the “extra heavy duty either.” Much less expensive than craft foils. The extra heavy duty Grocery store foil might be embossable too, for more possibilities!
        The trick is to cut it into “ tile” squares that overlap somewhat, for more interest and texture.

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