How to Paint Using Gold Leaf

Gold leaf is a great addition to any artwork and can be used as the art itself by applying it as the design. You can also add shading and highlighting to the leaf after its applied. There are variations of leafing including variegated, silver and copper. Many leafs come in packages of six 5 1/2-by-5 1/2-in. sheets. Great for all indoor projects, this material adds beauty to artwork.

Clean the surface free of dirt, dust or wax to prepare it for the adhesive sizing. Shake the adhesive sizing well to completely mix the ingredients. Using the acrylic brush, apply the sizing to the surface by painting it onto the design as though it was paint. Let the sizing set for 30 to 60 minutes until it becomes tacky.

Cut the wax paper a little larger than the sheet of leafing. Place the wax paper over the leafing and smooth it gently onto the leafing with your hand. The leafing will stick to the wax paper to make it easier to apply it to the tacky adhesive.

Pick the wax paper up with the leafing attached and lay the leafing side down onto the adhesive design. While the wax paper is still covering the leafing, use a clean dry brush to gently rub the leafing in place.

Lift the wax paper off the leafing and gently brush away any excess leafing. Gather the excess leafing onto the wax paper and store it for future use. If there are spots where the leafing didn't adhere, simply reapply the leafing and smooth it in place.

Seal the gold leafing with brush on sealer or spray sealer. Brush on sealer will deepen the leaf color. Spray on sealer maintains the original leafing color.


Try metal flakes for a different look. Gently crumple the gold leafing sheet and apply it directly to the adhesive surface for an aged look.


Do not use water-based varnishes with metal leafing. Always test product before using. Gold leaf is not recommended for use by children.

About the Author

As an author and instructor in the arts, Jeanne Paglio has been writing since 2001 and has been an artist for over 25 years. Her articles have appeared in "Painting Magazine," "Quick & Easy Painting," and "The Decorative Painter." Paglio studied art and design at Rhode Island School of Design.