Gilding Ceilings and Walls

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

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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.

Ceiling Step-by-Step

Gilded ceilings, walls and large surface areas has never been easier!

Genuine Gold, silver and metal leaf like Imitation Gold, Aluminum and Copper 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 Gilded Planet guidelines will help you produce a professionally finished, large surface area, gilded project.

Application Technique

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 finish will provide superior results. To determine a color that is right for your project, visit the Gilded Planet Color learning center.

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.

When working on large surface areas it is recommended that you use Ribbon Leaf. This is available in a variety of leaf types (visit the Ribbon Leaf Center for more details) and comes in a continuous roll of individual leaves laid back-to-back, making straight and long runs easily manageable.
Carefully apply a strip of leaf, working with one long strip, from end to end, or in smaller segments, depending on your surface area. It helps to work with 2 people, one holding the paper while the other carefully places the leaf in place. After applying the leaf to the 'sized' surface, use a soft 'Squirrel mop' gilder's brush and rub over the paper backing to insure all the leaf is attached to the surface. You can gently rub the paper backing with your fingers also - if you are careful and do not allow the paper backing to move or scratch the leaf surface. Gentle remove the paper from the leaf, using a 'Squirrel mop' gilder's brush. Make sure there are no air bubbles and the leaf is firmly attached to the working surface. Peel the paper backing off slowly and carefully.
Review your gilded surface for 'Holidays', or gaps and missing areas where there is need for more leaf. Just re-use exisiting leaf from your appplication stage. Apply as need to areas requiring touch ups. If you find an area that was missed in the size application and the leaf simply won't stick, then you have a 'Holiday'. These areas will require additional adhesive. It can be tricky to try and patch in dry spots with fresh size. The type of material and adhesive you are using may require different approachs. Contact us if you have a specific requirement and need further asssitance,
'Finish Off' or Burnish' the surface to remove and excess leaf, known as skewings. Use your soft 'Squirrel mop' gilder's brush so you do not scratch and dull the leaf surface.
Apply solvent-based varnish, such as 'Acrylic Topcoat Sealer', using a short nap roller. While this is still wet, soften with a high quality brush. 'Acrylic Topcoat' is a non-reactive, non-yellowing, premium clear sealer for genuine and metal leaf. Made from acrylic copolymers, Acrylic Topcoat provides protection from abrasion, water and ultra violet light. Soften the varnish using a high quality brush. Brush in a criss-cross pattern to smooth surface evenly.

It's all in the details!

Material Size Quantity Coverage
Gold Leaf Pack 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" 500 leaves 39.5 sqft.
Gold Leaf Book 3 3/8" x 3 3/8" 25 leaves 1.98 sqft.
Metal Leaf Pack 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" 500 leaves 100 sqft.
Metal Leaf Book 5 1/2" x 5 1/2" 25 leaves 5 sqft
Gold Leaf Master Roll 4 1/8" x 69 ft. Master Roll 23.5 sqft.
Silver Leaf Master Roll 5 3/4" x 82 ft. Master Roll 39 sqft.
Metal Leaf Roll 5 meter 6 1/4" sq. x 15 ft. Master Roll 3 sqft.
Metal Leaf Roll 50 meter 6 1/4" x 164 ft Master Roll 82 sqft.
Metal Leaf Roll 75 meter 6 1/4" x 246 ft. Master Roll 123 sqft.

Measurements are calculated without consideration for waste or overlap.

The skinny on All things leaf!

Dimentions Leaf size

Leaf Size: Gold leaf is 3 3/8 x 3 3/8 inches square (85 mm x 85 mm) and is sold in units called packs, containing 500 leaves. A pack is divided into 20 books with each book containing 25 leaves.

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