What is Gilding?

Gilding is the application of a thin layer of gold or gold-like material to a surface.


Gilding is an exquisite decorative technique used to give objects a thin coating of gold, or an appearance of being made of gold, by applying a thin layer of gold leaf or gold paint. This age-old artisanal method allows designers and craftsmen to impart a touch of opulence and refinement to various pieces, from furniture to architectural elements. It is a highly skilled technique that has been cherished throughout history for its ability to add brilliance and lasting beauty to its subjects.

The process of gilding involves meticulously preparing the surface to be gilded, which can include cleaning, smoothing, and sometimes applying a base coat. Gold leaf or gold paint is then applied. Gold leaf gilding, in particular, requires precision and careful handling, as the leaf is extremely thin and fragile. After application, the gilded surface may be burnished to enhance its shine or left with a more muted matte finish, depending on the desired effect.


Gilding can be found on a variety of items in the interior design context, including picture frames, mirrors, furniture, decorative objects, and architectural details such as moldings and ceiling medallions. It is often used in classical, baroque, and rococo interior designs but can also add a luxurious accent to more contemporary spaces.


  • Is gilding only done with real gold?

    No, while traditional gilding involves the use of real gold leaf, alternative materials such as silver, copper, and aluminum can also be used for a similar effect. There are also gold paints and powders that simulate the appearance of gold at a more affordable price.

  • How long does gilded gold leaf last?

    Gilded gold leaf can last for many years, even centuries, if properly applied and cared for. Its longevity depends on the environment and the care given to the gilded object. Indoor gilded pieces are generally more protected and can maintain their luster for a very long time.

  • Can gilding be applied to any surface?

    Almost any surface can be gilded, including wood, metal, glass, and ceramic, as long as the surface is properly prepared. Different adhesives may be used depending on the material of the base surface.

Practical Application

When incorporating gilding into interior design, consider using it as an accent to highlight decorative features or to add a luxurious touch to specific pieces. Gilding can elevate the appearance of an item, but it's important to use it sparingly to avoid overwhelming a space. Additionally, maintaining the gilded surfaces involves gentle cleaning and avoiding harsh chemicals to preserve their beauty.