How to apply Imitation Silver Leaf

'Imitation Silver' Leaf and 'Aluminum' Leaf are the same aluminum material. These terms are used interchangably.

Learn these essential steps to gild just about any surface with Imitation Silver leaf. Understand the different types of adhesive size and select what works best for your project.

Oil Based adhesives: Offered as a 'Quick Set' adhesive or a 'Slow Set' option, oil based size can be used for both interior and exterior projects. The 'self-leveling' properties of oil based size make this product ideal for projects requiring a higher level of finish.

Water Based adhesives: Our water based and archival adhesive sizes are generally used for interior projects only. Great for large area surfaces, like walls and ceilings. Water based adhesive size has a long open time, allowing more time for the gilders to apply the leaf.

Using oil size for aluminum and imitation silver leaf

Oil size method - solvent based adhesive size

For interior and Exterior applications
How to apply aluminum and imitation silver leaf

Water size method - Water based adhesive size

For interior application only.
Imitation Silver leaf color chart

Metal Leaf Color Chart

Imitation Gold Leaf Color Chart

Special Feature - Oil Size Technique

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how to aluminum leaf

Quick-Dry Oil Size will reach tack in approx. 2 hours and will remain open for gilding for 2 to 3 hours. In very dry and warm environments, it may reach tack in as little as 1 hour and the open time for gilding may be greatly reduced. It produces excellent results with genuine and metal leaf and is recommended for small projects or when time is limited. Allow to cure for 24 hours before sealing. Download complete specification sheet for this product.

Slow-Set Oil Size is recommended for projects that may require a longer open time for gilding than Quick-Dry will allow. It will reach proper gilding tack in 10-12 hours and will remain open for gilding with genuine or metal leaf for an equal amount of time. The open time for gilding with metal leaf is usually less, as it is with other oil sizes. Allow to cure minimum of one week before sealing.

Special Feature - Water Size Technique

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Size refers to the adhesive material used to adhere gold, Silver, copper or metal leaf to the surface being gilded. There are different forms of size depending on the gilding method; oil based, water based and 'water gilding'. Gilding with water based adhesives should not be confused with traditional water gilding methods or the Kolner Water Gilding System. Water based adhesives form a tacky surface gluing the leaf to the surface and are not burnishable.

Aqua Size and Wunda Size are popular water based sizes and serve as an alternative to oil size for interior projects. Both have an extremely long tack time making it suitable for large scale interior projects or production gilding in manufacturing plants. Aqua Size and Wunda Size are most appropriate when used to gild with metal leaf, but will produce acceptable results with genuine gold. Porous surfaces should be sealed with A primer prior to sizing. Aqua and Wunda Size are for interior use only. Clean up as soon as possible with water or acetone.

Oil Gilding Video Tutorial

Quick Dry oil size gilding. This detailed demonstration shows you how to apply genuine gold, Silver, imitation gold, aluminum and copper leaf to objects and furniture using the classic 3 hour oil size method. Brought to you by the folks at, you'll learn about types of adhesive, testing for 'tack' and drying rates, easy leaf application tips and cleaning and burnishing the leaf.

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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.
Quick Dry Oil Size Quart 1 60 sqft.
Slow Set Oil Size Quart 1 50 sqft
Aqua Size Waterbased Adhesive Quart 1 85 sqft.
Burnish Sealer Quart 1 75 sqft.
Acrylic Top Coat Quart 1 50 sqft.

Leaf Measurements are calculated without consideration for waste or overlap.