How to Silver Leaf a Frame

When most people think of silver leafing, they think of the gorgeous patina of vintage pieces, but the same effect can be achieved with thin sheets of silver leaf bought at your local craft store. This technique can be used on nearly any surface and adds an instant impact to any plain and ordinary item.

Smooth out the surface of the piece to be leafed with a fine nylon finishing pad. Wipe down the surface with a dry cloth to remove any dust. Because leafing consists of thin sheets, any imperfections in the item's surface will be accentuated.

Apply a grey latex paint as your base coat.

Brush your silver leaf sizing on the entire surface with an artist's brush. When the sizing changes from milky white to clear, it is time to apply the leaf. This process takes about an hour.

Remove one sheet of the leaf. It is better to wear rubber gloves during this process to avoid touching the leafing with bare fingers. Apply the leaf to the surface using the attached tissue paper. Lift away the tissue paper and brush away any flakes that may not have adhered.

Repeat Step 4 on the remainder of the surface, overlapping with each application for a more consistent look.

Brush away any flakes that may not have adhered. Brush on two coats of clear polyurethane or varnish to seal the entire project.


Avoid touching the leafing sheets with your bare fingers. The oils in your skin will cause discolorations.

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