Gold Leaf Or Not To Gold Leaf

Gold leaf. Shimmering, seductive, worthy of statuary and tombs for ancient gods, and for numerous works of art through the ages. The Egyptians were the first to perfect the process, followed by centuries of improvements that have resulted in a technique that has changed little for thousands of years.

Today, gold leaf is usually found in architecture, fine art and commercial enterprises, specifically, the sign industry. As a handcrafted application, Paxton Signs uses the same tools now as when the Egyptians created their magnificent art. The incredible durability of gold (and other metal leafing materials) surpasses other traditional applications, such as vinyl and paint. Over time, gold will outlast those products by many years since it is resistant to most chemicals and weather conditions. Incredibly, Egyptian gold treasures are still in pristine condition after 5000 years!

How Is Gold Leaf Done?

First, the gold used in gold leaf comes from gold sheets that have been hammered into extremely thin sheets. It comes in a variety of karats and shades. The most common, 23-karat, is what Paxton Signs uses for window projects. Other varieties include, yellow gold (91% pure), and white gold (50% pure), and are used for various surface effects. In addition, the term “metal leaf” is used for thin sheets of other metals that can be used in gilding. These include copper, aluminum, silver and platinum, as well as gold.

When gilding letters or a sign face, Paxton Signs prepares the surface by sanding it to a smooth finish, then priming it with a premium quality primer. After applying the primer, the surface is painted with an oil enamel paint. Multiple coats are used in this process. After drying, a coat of “size” is applied and allowed to dry to a tacky consistency. At this point, the gold leaf leaves are applied to the sized surface. A soft bristle brush is then used to remove excess gold.

Finally, soft surgical cotton is used to burnish the gold to a high-gloss sheen. If there are applications of other metal leafs to affect different results, they are applied after the gold.

Gold is hammered to an extremely thin thickness, creating the gold leaf that will be applied to a prepared surface.

After the surface has been prepped, the leaf application begins.

Gold leaf can be used for many types of art elements, but is usually used to define letters and logos.

Is Gold Leaf a Good Choice For Your Business?

Traditionally, professionals like lawyers and doctors prefer metal leaf. Businesses that want to project upscale appeal, such as horse enterprises, jewelers, resort areas, boutiques, bars, restaurants, and golf courses, are well served by utilizing gold leaf and other lustrous metals. Vehicles and boats whose owners desire upscale graphics will find that gold’s sumptuous sheen and durability is, by far, the best choice. And durability is perhaps one of the most attractive aspects of gold leaf: It is common for gold leaf to last 20 years.

Is There An Alternative To Gold Leaf?

Paxton Signs offers an alternative to real gold and other metal leafing: Metallic paint will yield a metallic-like finish. It is flexible, weather and fade-resistant, and adheres to wood, metal, vinyl and other substrates. Paxton Signs uses it for faux finishes and glazing. Non-flammable, non-toxic when cured, low odor, lead-free, non-gassing, gold paint offers built-in ultra violet light protection as well.

As an economical alternative to gold leaf, gold paint produces a subtle, flaked, metallic finish. Its longevity falls short of gold leaf’s significantly longer life span. Factors, like hot and cold and exposure to the elements, will determine the life span of gold paint, usually around seven years, depending on climate conditions. And, of course, gold paint will not produce the luster of 23-karat gold leaf.

A Paxton Signs design utilizing a central gold leafed element.

An example of effective gold leafing technique, highly visible and always beautiful.

Combined with hand painted art, gold leaf emphasizes the elegance of this entrance.

So, Gold Leaf Or Not To Gold Leaf . . .

The investment you make in your marketing efforts says a great deal about your business. It speaks volumes to your customers about your image. Considering the additional years of useful advertising that gold leaf offers, and using the professional sign design services offered by Paxton Signs, your choice “to gold leaf” will be one you will be happy with for many years.


Call Paxton Signs at, 970-221-5519, or contact us using our “contact” feature, above.

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