Sealing gold leaf projects is an important, but sometimes skipped, step in the overall gold leafing process. Generally, if using a genuine gold leaf with a rating higher than 22 karat, sealing is not absolutely necessary. However, if the leafing is in a high-traffic area, then a sealer will help to protect the leaf. Gold leafing (or silver, bronze and tin leafing) can be used in a variety of settings and mediums such as signs, on windows, on metal surfaces and other gilded decorations. Properly sealing the gold leaf will ensure the durability of the finish for years to come.
Apply the gold leaf, leaving it to cure overnight. The gold leafing must be completely dry before a sealer can be applied to it.
Decide whether to apply the sealer with a brush or as a spray. Generally, if the leafing project has an irregular surface, then a spray will be easier to apply.
Purchase a specially formulated sealer for use with metal leaf surfaces. Several brands are on the market and can be purchased at any hobby or craft store. A non-reactive, water clear sealer for metal leaf is the best choice.
Test the clear finish sealer on a test sample of leaf before using it on your project. Occasionally, a sealer will diminish the brightness of the finish. If the test sample looks fine after 20 minutes of drying, you can apply the sealer to your gold leaf project.
Apply clear finish sealer as you would any other type of paint or stain. Make clean, even strokes to completely cover surfaces. Wait another 24 hours for sealer to cure and then your surface will be fully protected.