What Is an Alternative to Gold Leaf on a Ceiling?

Traditionally, a gilded gold ceiling contains genuine gold leaf to create its golden colour. With modern materials, alternatives exist that reduce the expense and challenging technique of traditional gold leafing. Faux finishing techniques replace real gold leaf when genuine gold is too expensive or impractical.

Metallic Glaze

One alternative to gold leafing on the ceiling is painting the ceiling with a metallic gold paint. Use a technique that will mimic the gilding of gold leaf. Start with a base coat of a solid colour that will show through the sheer gold effect. Roll the base coat on evenly and apply a second coat if needed to fully cover the ceiling.

Instead of using a paintbrush to apply the metallic glaze, use a natural sea sponge or stipple to dab on the glaze, overlapping randomly. Metallic gold glazing applied with a paintbrush or roller can show brush marks or roller overlap marks in the finished product. Using a sponge or stipple brush allows the glaze to blend.

If you have a textured ceiling, highlight the texture in the same way gold leafing would. Apply the glaze with a heavier hand on the peaks and hold back just a bit on the valleys. Step back and view your product periodically to check for evenness.

Metallic Paint

Another way to reproduce the gold leaf effect on a ceiling is to paint the ceiling with metallic gold paint and then stipple on a darker glaze to tone and give texture to the metal look. Roll on a latex primer suitable for ceiling use. Apply the metallic gold paint once the primer has dried using a paint roller, moving in straight vertical strokes for more shine or randomly for a more mottled appearance.

Once the metallic paint has dried according to manufacturer's instructions, apply a pearlised glaze in a dark blue, dark green or black to give the irregular effect of gold leafing that adheres to certain areas better than others. Apply the glaze lightly with a rag or sponge.

Test a faux gold leafing technique on a sample board or an inconspicuous portion of the ceiling before applying to the entire ceiling. Metallic paint and glaze may be difficult to cover if you make a mistake.

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About the Author

Andrea Lott Haney writes articles and training materials for food industry publications. Having studied foodservice sanitation, nutrition and menu planning at Purdue University, Lott Haney has more than 10 years of experience as a catering and event planner for luxury hotels and currently tours the Midwest as a corporate customer service trainer and consultant.