How To Apply Gold Leaf Step by Step + FAQs!

Learn how to apply gold leaf in this step by step tutorial today. This is such an easy way to add a wow factor to your paintings or paper crafts! I’ll also answer all your commonly asked questions in this post!

If you find yourself looking for ways to take your Easy Flower Paintings to the next level, I think you will enjoy this gold leaf tutorial. It takes only a few supplies, but some patience is required to wait for the glue to dry, and the process is truly super simple. You will want to add this gilded effect onto all of your projects (paper, plastic, metal, canvas, or even wood) next. The Gilded look is super satisfying to create and will never fail to wow you!

How to apply gold leaf

What is the difference between Gold Leaf and Gold Foil?

Gold Leaf or metal leaf are super thin sheets of copper that can be colored any color- gold, silver, or bronze. These sheets are thinner than a fraction of a micron and easily take the shape of anything they adhere to. These delicate sheets of metal packed within protective paper sheets.

In comparison, Gold Foil sheets are much stronger since they have a thin plastic supportive layer which makes durable and hence easier to use and package.

Leafing is more of an advanced technique, whereas Gold Foiling is great for beginners!

What kind of glue do you use for Gold Leaf?

The best glue for gold leaf on paper is this Metal Leaf glue which is made especially for metal leafing projects.

What do you use to apply Gold Leaf?

What do you use to apply Gold Leaf?

To apply the glue you can use the convenient nozzle attached to the bottle. If you need more precision in your application use an old thin paint brush instead.

How to apply Gold Leaf Step by Step:

Supplies you will need: 

Step by Step Photo Tutorial:

  1.  Apply the Metal Leaf adhesive onto your artwork wherever you want the gilding. You can use the applicator nozzle or an old paintbrush for more control.
  2. Let dry for about 60 minutes. The adhesive will dry clear and tacky.
  3. Carefully peel and apply the Metal Leaf onto the dried adhesive. Do not apply Gold Leafing onto wet glue.
  4. The metal leaf will be attracted by the glue and naturally settle onto the glue. Let it sit on the glue for another 60 minutes.
How to apply gold leaf step by step
  1. Grab a dry brush- preferably one with a straight edge like a square brush that has soft bristles.
  2. Burnish the Gold Leaf into the adhesive with soft strokes of the dry paintbrush. It will only adhere to the areas where there is adhesive, the rest will dust off. 
  3. Shake off all of the excess leafing
  4. Your gilded artwork is ready!
How to apply gold leaf step by step part 2

I absolutely love how the gold leafing enhances my Ganesha Painting below. It takes a few easy steps, but nothing is difficult!

Ganesha artwork with gold leafing like Tanjore Painting

Enjoy the Video tutorial:

More ideas for you to try!

What are Gilding Flakes? What are they used for?

Gilding flakes are smaller bits of gold leaf used mainly in paper crafting- like card making.

These flakes are inexpensive compared to the full sheets and the smaller flake size is great for adding shimmer to cards.

What are Gilding Flakes?

How do you use Gilding Flakes

There are so many techniques you can try, here is one of my favorite card that uses Nuvo Gilding Flakes. Below is the tutorial.

Gilding Flakes Card
  1. Using a die-cutting machine cut an intricate design of your choice the size of your card.
  2. Trim another piece of cardstock to fit the card front. I used a white cardstock here and then covered it liberally with adhesive.
  3. Now place your paper die cut onto the white cardstock. Then add gilding flakes on top.
  4. Allow to dry and then gently burnish the flakes into place.

The flakes will only adhere to the white cardstock with the exposed adhesive and the die cut will remain unaffected!

How do you use gilding flakes

How to use Gilding Flakes to stamp on cards

Gilding Flakes add the most delicate shimmer to cards and envelopes when combined with stamping. Below is the tutorial on how to stamp and gild.

  1. Trim and prepare your card.
  2. Squeeze liquid white glue onto a piece of folded paper towel and press the glue into the paper evenly. Press your stamp into this “DIY glue ink pad” and stamp onto the card.
  3. Apply flakes generously onto the stamped glue image. I used a mix of gold, silver, and copper here!
  4. Allow to dry and gently burnish to remove the excess flakes!
how to use gilding flakes on cards


If you have any questions about this technique, please leave a comment below!

Can you use normal glue with Gold Leaf?

Can you use normal glue with Gold Leaf?

Yes, any white glue like Elmer’s Glue or Mono Liquid Glue can be used, as I show in this video tutorial

Can you use spray adhesive for Gold Leaf?

spray adhesive for gilding

A spray adhesive can easily be used for larger projects as I did in this DIY Wall Map Art Tutorial.

How long do I leave Gold Leaf on Glue?

How to apply gold leaf

Approximately 30 to 60 minutes should work. This drying time will vary based on the adhesive you are using. You can always leave it longer if you do not have time to attend to it right away.

how to use gold leaf in art?

Gold Leafing on Canvas

Applying gold leaf onto acrylic paintings is SO satisfying and creates the most unique artwork. The best advantage is that you can use the wet paint as an adhesive and skip applying glue.

How To Apply Gold Leaf To Furniture?

gold leafing nightstand

Gold Leaf can be easily added to furniture using adhesive or putty! I explain it step by step in this DIY Nightstand Makeover

Does Gold Leaf need to be sealed?

gold leaf sealer

Paper projects will not require sealing. On larger art pieces, I have used this sealer made specifically to protect leafing on my DIY World Map Wall Art

Conclusion: Is Gold Leaf better than Gold paint?

In conclusion, yes gold leaf is way better than gold paint. Gold Paint often is created with a black base and will lose its luster and color over the course of time. Gold leafing lasts forever and the gilded look adds an easy sophistication to your projects.

Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this tutorial today and found it helpful. If you are reading this in your inbox, do click and say hi in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

is gold leafing worth it
Smitha Katti creativespace e1577349763159

Hi I’m Smitha! I live in Minnesota with my husband and two daughters. You’ll always find me painting florals in my sketchbook. And I love the sheer joy of making something with just my hands! But my bigger love is capturing it all on camera Read more.

Thanks for stopping by today! If you learnt something from this tutorial, do share this post with a friend or on social media! Tag me @smithakatti #smithakatti I’d love to see what you create!


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