Kitchen Home Improvement

Applying Gold Leaf To A Mirror For A Finishing Design Touch

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By Jessica Ackerman

For a true touch of elegance, a large mirror framed in gold leaf is the perfect finishing touch for a room. This accent piece works in just about any room in the house from the foyer to the master bedroom. In a contemporary room the gold leaf brings the perfect shimmer of a metallic accent into the room. The style of the frame really determines the overall look of the mirror, because gold leaf applied to an intricately carved frame will have a completely different look than when it is applied to a sleekly square frame.

The wonderful thing about gold leaf is that while it looks very opulent and expensive, gilding, or applying gold leaf to a frame is actually a very simple project. While it does take a little time and attention, it does not require any special skill. The project can be more or less expensive depending on the materials used. When applying thin sheets of real gold, the project will be much more costly than when using thin sheets of imitation gold. However, both projects will yield beautiful results as long as the frame is properly prepared before beginning.

1. Mask the Glass. While it is best to completely remove the frame from the mirror before beginning the gilding process, if removing it is not possible, then simply mask off the mirror with painter’s tape and a sheet of plastic.


2. Prepare the Frame. Gold leaf will stick to just about anything as long as the correct adhesive is used, including glass, plastic and wood. If a wooden frame is being covered, first seal the wood with gesso primer. Make sure that the surface of the frame is completely smooth, because any little flaw in the surface will show up in the gilding.

3. Apply Base Coat. To give the gold leaf a warm undercoat, apply acrylic bole in red. It will make an even surface, which is perfectly suited for a gold leaf application. After the first coat of bole is dry, apply another to build up a good, solid base coat.

4. Apply Adhesive. Let the bole completely dry to form a hard shell for a base coat. Then apply a thin layer of gold size as a fixative, adhering the gold leaf to the frame’s surface. This layer is creamy white when applied and withing ten minutes it will become clear and tacky. This is the easiest time to apply the sheets of gold leaf.

5. Apply Gold Leaf Sheets. Very gently begin to lay the gold leaf sheets on the frame and have a very soft brush handy to tamp the sheets in place. Slightly overlap the sheets while continuing to apply the gold leaf all the way around the frame. Use the brush to remove any excess pieces of the sheets. For intricate or detailed portions of the frame, apply smaller pieces of gold leaf and tamp into place.

6. Protective Coating. After completely covering the entire frame with gold leaf, use the soft brush to press out any wrinkled areas. When the leaf is clean and sleek, apply a thin coat of shellac to protect the delicate gold leaf. This shellac layer helps make the frame more durable by protecting the gold leaf. Let the shellac completely dry, and the mirror is ready to hang.

About the Author: Online contributing editor for, Jessica Ackerman has extensive design experience, using

abstract metal wall hangings


abstract wooden wall decor



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