Gilding Ceilings and Walls

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

Video Special

A step-by-step educational series. Gilding tutorials and gilding information for the beginner, intermediate and advanced gilder.

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!

Ideally suited for large flat areas. Genuine Gold, Silver and Metal Leaf 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, including Imitation Gold, Imitation Silver, Copper and Genuine Gold ribbon leaf. Each roll comes as a continuous roll of individual leaves laid back-to-back with a 2mm overlap. It ideal for large, flat areas, making straight and long runs easily manageable.

Watch a short video explaining the different types of packaging for metal and genuine leaf - Loose Leaf - Patent Leaf - Ribbon Leaf.

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, BUT you must be careful not to allow the paper backing to move or scratch the leaf surface. Gently remove the paper from the leaf, using your '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. Retain any excess pieces for touch ups.

While your adhesive size is still tacky, carefully scan 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. And areas that have two layers of leaf can 'flash', appearing brighter in the final finish. The type of material and adhesive you use may require different approaches. Contact us if you have a specific requirement and need further asssitance with touch-ups and Holiday repairs.

'Finish Off' or Burnish' the surface to remove and excess leaf, known as skewings.

A soft hair Squirrel mop brush is recommended to remove excess leaf and 'polish' the surface. Insure that there is full leaf coverage on your surface before cleaning with your mop brush. Once all the 'holidays' or gaps are filled with leaf, use the mop brush to dust off any excess leaf.

Be fairly comprehensve but leave a small amount of leaf dust. In otherwords, don't give an aggressive 'polish' directly after applying the leaf. The adhesive is still soft and your leaf may dull if you over work the brush. Allow to set up over night then come back and complete the final 'burnishing' the next day. You can complete this process by using your Mop brush and soft cotton, to remove any excess leaf pieces and create the finished, burnished leaf appearance.

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. Even out 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.