Topcoating Over Gold Leaf
From contributor J:
I agree with contributor L - gold leaf does not get topcoated. Any finish you put on it will degrade long before the gold. Finish your piece completely and do the gold leafing last, then just leave it alone.
From contributor T:
Are you saying real gold leaf or imitation? Sounds like you used oil size, which would not be receptive to hot solvents like lacquer thinner, but that would indicate you have matte gilding if real gold. If it's foil then it will tarnish without a clear coat. Shellac is normally used to top coat foil, or as a barrier coat before any other clear. Real gold leaf needs no top coat, as posted above.
From contributor S:
I'm guessing that you are doing oil gilding and not water gilding. Gold leaf that is 23 1/2 karat will not tarnish, 22 and less will eventually over time. A coating over a lower karat will protect it from oxidizing and overzealous housekeeping, which can eventually rub off the gold if a cloth is used for dust removal. It also can be used to tone the color of the gold. What is the application? Do you want to brush or spray a coating?
From the original questioner:
The gold leaf covers the entire surface of a coffee table, so I want to protect it from abrasion mainly. I used Rolco quick dry gilding size, which contains mineral spirits. I want a nice deep gloss finish; brush or spray, whatever would work best.
From contributor R:
Automotive painters clear coat gold leaf all the time. I would use an isolante before the 2k urethane just to be safe as far as adhesion. Most manufacturers of 2k urethane will have an isolante product.
From contributor M:
I would stay with a barrier coat of shellac. Once dried you can recoat with almost anything. Also unless you are into bright gold look, the color in the shellac will soften and age the leaf.
The comments below were added after this Forum discussion was archived as a Knowledge Base article (add your comment).
Comment from contributor A:
After a few attempts with the two types of Rolco, and having put down 15 books of gold leaf, I ended up having to sand the leafing right back down to the gesso base and start over again; this time using the tried and true German Gold Size that doesn’t react with the Old World sealer.
Some applications require a sealer because the gold will scratch and be subjected to amateur cleaning attempts, etc.
Would you like to add information to this article?
Interested in writing or submitting an article?
Have a question about this article?
Have you reviewed the related Knowledge Base areas below?