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Metal leaf


Resene paint effects projects, project 04

Silver or gold leaf may be applied to almost any non-porous surface. It’s an easy way to create a striking metallic finish. Sheets of foil are applied to the basecoat using a waterborne adhesive.

Applying metal leaf on a tissue box
Applying metal leaf on a tissue box

You will need

  • Silver foil sheets and gilding size (available in a kit form from craft supply stores)
  • Small soft fibre artist brush
  • Wood filler
  • Wooden tissue box

Project tip

Before you start your project, test out the finish on a piece of cardboard until you are happy with the result.

How to apply metal leaf

Step 1
Step 1

Step 2
Step 2

Step 3
Step 3

Step 1:  Fill any staple or nail holes with filler. Allow to dry then sand until smooth. An undercoat is optional. Dust off and apply two coats of Resene Rhythm to the entire box, leaving the first coat to dry before applying the second. Let this thoroughly dry.

Step 2:  Mask off your design with tape and press down firmly. Apply gilding size with a soft brush. Allow to dry for approximately 20 minutes then apply a second thin coat and let it dry until it becomes tacky to the touch. Give it the knuckle test – if it clicks as you lift your knuckle off it is ready for the foil to be applied.

Step 3:  Cut the foil to size and, with the shiny side up, press it onto the size. Rub the back firmly with your finger. You may use the wooden end of a small paintbrush or a toothpick to get into any hard-to-reach areas. Peel off the foil. Some of the basecoat will show through. If there are areas that look a little bare put another sheet of foil on and rub again. Remove the masking tape.

Download this project as a PDF

Project by Janet Scard. Photography by Joseph Zou.

Other paint effects you might like to try

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Colours shown on this website are a representation only. Please refer to the actual paint or product sample. Resene colour charts, testpots and samples are available for ordering online.   See measurements/conversions for more details on how electronic colour values are achieved.