Metallic finishes are everywhere in home decor. We are seeing gold, silver, brass and copper finishes all over Pinterest, Instagram and the decorating magazines. From entire pieces of metallic furniture to hints and accents, metallic finishes are everywhere.
So, you know you want to incorporate metallics into your furniture projects but you aren’t sure what type of metallic finish would be best for your project.
Although there are many ways to create metallic finishes, there are three that are the most popular and easy to apply – metallic wax, metallic leaf, and metallic paint.
Here’s an overview of each method, when and how to use them and what you can expect...
AKA: Gilders Paste, Gilding Wax
What is it: Gilding Wax is the closest thing to the look of real metallic leaf but it’s easier and quicker to apply. Gilding Wax comes in a wide variety of colors which can be mixed to create your own unique colors. Allowing the Metallic Wax to dry for 24 hours enables you to buff it for more of a shine. Gilding wax can be applied very thinly to create a subtle shine or more heavily for full metallic coverage.
Metallic waxes are often used on details such as carvings, table edges, feet, etc. but can be used on larger areas like this chair. Metallic wax can be used over stained wood, painted finishes, and metal making it a quick and easy way to freshen up the look of furniture hardware (knobs, drawer pulls, etc.).
How it’s applied: Brush or finger.
Pro’s: Quick and easy to use.
Con’s: Depending on the packaging (tube, jar, or tin), metallic waxes can become dried out or separate. If your metallic wax in a tube has separated, re-cap the tube and knead it. If it’s dried out, scoop some out onto a plate and add a little clear wax. The mineral spirits in the wax will soften the dried metallic wax.
Brands to look for: Rub-n-Buff has been around for years and is well priced. But other great quality brands are available as well. We really like Gedeo and Annie Sloan.
Tips for Using:
AKA: Gold Leaf, Metallic Leaf
What It Is: Metal Leaf is a metallic that has been beaten into a very thin sheet then applied to a surface using an adhesive called Gold Size. Metal Leaf can be left looking bright and shiny or it can be distressed and crackled for an aged look. Metal Leaf needs to be finished with wax or another sealer after application.
The process is more time consuming than other metallic options but it can be applied to an entire piece of furniture or simply added to small areas or details.
How it’s applied: Gold Size is brushed onto the areas on which you plan to apply gold leaf. The Gold Size will dry in a few minutes but will remain tacky for several days. Once the Gold Size is dry, carefully apply the leaf to the areas covered in the size, pushing down gently with a brush. Leaf can be sealed with wax and gently distressed either before or after waxing.
PROs: Nothing beats the look of actual metallic leaf.
CONs: Time consuming, especially if you’re covering a large area.
Brands to look for:
What is it: Metallic Paints are usually acrylic so they require no additional topcoat or sealer. They can easily be applied on large solid areas and it’s versatile a lot of interesting looks can be achieved. Check the brand you choose to use but many Metallic paints can be used indoors or out.
How it’s applied: with a brush, roller or sprayer.
PROs: Inexpensive and easy to use.
CONs: Many Metallic paints are sheer and require multiple coats for solid coverage if you’re doing a smooth paint finish (i.e.: not a textured application).
Brands to look for: Quality varies widely between brands and Modern Masters has become the industry standard.
Tips for using:
Most of us feel most comfortable with paint so we select the metallic paint option but I urge you to step outside your comfort zone and give metallic wax and leaf a try. I think you'll be really excited about what you can do!