The 5 Best Goldleaf Paints in 2021

Whether you’re the next budding Klimt or a DIYer just starting out embellishing frames using gold paint, it’s essential to know the difference between gold leaf and gold leaf paint. Both products are used interchangeably, and understanding the differences will help you choose the right product for your project and make it much more fun to choose.

We will outline the best gold leaf and gold leaf paint based on whether it’s real gold, toxic or non-toxic, and how metallic the color is once dry (for gold paint only). We will cover the best gold leaf paint for walls, metal, liquid gold leaf, gold leaf pen, and real gold options.

All products are graded based on 1-10 for each selection criteria, with 10 being the best.

First, let’s look at the significant differences between gold leaf and gold leaf paint:

Gold Paint vs. Gold Leaf – What’s the Difference

Gold leaf

Gold leaf is generally made out of real gold that has been “gold beaten” into thin sheets of varying karats, with 22-karat yellow gold being standard. Under the right conditions, genuine gold leaf can last hundreds, if not thousands of years, so the difference in cost can be worth the lifetime investment. While most gold leaf on the market today isn’t made of pure gold, it does have copper, and a bronze alloy included, which gives it a metallic color similar to gold. One of the most famous artists who used gold leaf in his paintings was Klimt, an Austria symbolist painter whose father happened to be a goldsmith.

Gold Paint

Gold paints are usually water-based acrylics and are less expensive than gold leaf. They are also easier to apply to most surfaces, including leather, metal, and wood, and can be purchased in a large variety of colors to get the right shade of gold. It’s also vital to ensure the ingredients in your gold leaf paint aren’t toxic. Toxic additives contain carcinogens that can cause cancer and exacerbate symptoms for people living with asthma with continuous use. We recommend not using gold leaf paints that have harmful ingredients.

Using and Applying Gold Leaf (Hint: It’s Not Easy)

Using gold leaf isn’t easy and requires skill, patience, and a steady hand, but the results are well worth the effort. After deciding on the exact metallic shade that is best for your project, the fun can begin—purchasing a gilding brush will help when applying gold leaf and reduce breaking and air bubbles.

Unfortunately, no tool helps stop the gold leaf from flying everywhere, but working on several projects at once can reduce the waste factor. Second, you must apply adhesive like this one from Barnabas Blattgold. Remember, gold leaf will stick to any wet surface so ensure that it’s completely dry before applying to a painting.

Next, allow the sheet to dry completely, then wipe down with a dry cloth to remove excess particles, apply sealer, and voila, your artwork is complete. There are many different techniques to applying gold leaf, and we encourage you to discover the one that’s best for your specific project. Gold leaf paint is used as regular acrylic paint and is just painted on using a paintbrush.

How to Choose the Best Gold Leaf Paint for Your Project

The following selection criteria will help you make the best decision on choosing the best gold leaf paint for your project:

Real Gold or Imitation

Real gold leaf is measured by the amount of gold in the leaf sheets or gold paint. Imitation gold leaf paint usually contains no gold at all. The primary determining factor on whether to use real gold or a derivative boils down to price. The higher the karat of real gold, the more expensive it will be. The same holds for gold paint that can be made from copper, making it pricier than products containing no metal. Ideally, splurging on natural gold leaf makes a difference in quality, longevity, and colorfastness if you can afford it.

Toxic or Non-toxic

Toxicity is determined based on the number of toxic substances used to make the gold leaf paint. Even if there is one poisonous substance, we will consider it to be unhealthy. Non-toxic substances will contain no harmful ingredients. Purchasing non-toxic paints are always preferable.

Metallic Color

The metallic color is defined by how the gold paint will dry once applied. Since gold leaf isn’t liquid, it will remain the same color as when it’s used. The only variation that must be accounted for is oxidation.

 

#1. Best Gold Leaf Paint Overall – DecoArt 24k Gold Leaf Paint

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$21
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Real Gold or Imitation – Imitation
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Toxicity – Non-toxic
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Metallic color – 24k Gold
    • Our score: 9/10

About DecoArt 24k Gold Leaf Paint

For artists looking for an easier way to embellish artwork or furniture without the hassle of applying gold leaf sheets, then this acrylic water-based gold liquid leaf paint from DecoArt is the ticket. It has an actual 24k yellow gold color, even when dry, and is very versatile and can be used for indoor or outdoor applications. It can be used to decorate are wood, walls, and even gold leaf painting on canvas. As this product is water-based, it’s easy to clean and, most importantly, is non-toxic, so it is safe to use around children or pets.

Pros

  • Has a rich 24k gold color
  • Is a reasonable price for the quality
  • Easy to use
  • Can be applied successfully to multiple surfaces

Cons

  • Isn’t real gold
  • Will oxidize

#2. Best Gold Leaf Paint for Metal – FolkArt Gold Leaf Paint for Metal

FolkArt Treasure Gold Paint

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$6.44
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Real Gold or Imitation – Imitation
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Toxicity – Non-toxic
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Metallic color – Gold-Copper
    • Our score: 8/10

About FolkArt Gold Leaf Paint for Metal

If looking for a coppery gold color that looks more antique, then this FolkArt paint is one of the best quality gold leaf paints available at this price point. It’s also excellent as a gold leaf paint for jewelry and other metals. Although this product is non-toxic, it is not advised for items that will be used in food preparation. However, washing the metal in warm soapy water and allowing it to dry completed before applying the paint is suggested. Note that it can take a few coats to get the desired sheen, and using a sealer is recommended to prolong the life of the color.

Pros

  • Creates an impressive antique gold hue on surfaces
  • Retains its color, even after dry
  • Excellent quality

Cons

  • Will eventually oxidize

#3. Best Real Gold Leaf Paint – L.A. Gold Real 24k Gold Leaf Paint

24k Gold Leaf by LA Gold Leaf

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$46.94 (Was $59.75)
    • Our score: 7/10
  • Real Gold or Imitation – Real Gold
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Toxicity – Non-toxic
    • Our score: 10/10
  • Metallic color – Gold
    • Our score: 9/10

About L.A. Gold Real 24k Gold Leaf Paint

Made of genuine real gold, these gold sheets will never tarnish or oxidize. Perfect for embossing artwork, jewelry, and even outdoors items, like a mailbox, address sign, or even a boat. This gold leaf can be applied to just about any surface, except clothes or leather. Keep in mind that these sheets are so thin that any bumps or imperfections on the applied surface will show through, so be sure to prepare the area beforehand if desiring a flat, even finish. For those handy in the kitchen, this product is also edible and can be used sparingly to decorate cakes.

Pros

  • Genuine gold
  • Is edible
  • Never oxidizes
  • Can be used on outdoor items

Cons

  • Difficult to apply
  • Price may be too high for some customers

#4. Best Liquid Gold Leaf Paint – DecoArt Liquid Gold Leaf Paint

DecoArt 2 Ounce, 24K Gold Extreme Sheen Paint

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$9.30
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Real Gold or Imitation – Imitation
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Toxicity – Non-toxic
    • Our score: 9/10
  • Metallic color – 24 Gold
    • Our score: 9/10

About DecoArt Liquid Gold Leaf Paint

Available in 26 colors, from bronze, rose gold to champagne gold, this water-based acrylic metallic paint has covered just about every metallic hue conceivable. This versatile paint creates a smooth, rich, even coat of pigment and works on almost every surface imaginable, including leather, glass, and canvas, but is not the best for detailed work. If using on a metal surface, it’s recommended to use a sealer afterward to ensure colorfastness. It can also be diluted with alcohol and used in a spray bottle for a dapple effect.

Pros

  • Versatile for most surfaces
  • Comes in a variety of colors
  • Affordable
  • Non-toxic

Cons

  • Will oxidize over time

#5. Best Gold Leaf Paint Pen – Krylon 18k Gold Leaf Pen

Krylon 18 Karat Gold Leafing Pen

Selection Criteria

  • Price – ~$17.95 (Was $26.33)
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Real Gold or Imitation – Imitation
    • Our score: 8/10
  • Toxicity – Toxic
    • Our score: 6/10
  • Metallic color – 18k Gold
    • Our score: 8/10

About Krylon 18k Gold Leaf Pen

Gold leaf pens are ideal for finer details on delicate surfaces like papier mache, fabric flowers, or even to touch up gold leaf applications. It can also be used on ceramic, metal, walls, leather, and of course, paper. It is also the easiest way to apply gold paint as it doesn’t require any adhesives and dries much faster than gold leaf or gold leaf paint. If the tip gets dried out, just shake it until you hear the ball moving about inside, then press down for the color to flow again.

Pros

  • The most straightforward application of gold leaf paint
  • Natural 18k gold color
  • A variety of uses

Cons

  • Toxic until dried
  • Will oxidize with time

Conclusion

This wraps up our guide to the best gold leaf paint. Not only have we discussed how you could identify the difference between gold leaf and gold leaf paint, including how to use it, but we’ve also shared our recommendation in various contexts.

We’ve discussed how you can choose the best gold leaf paint, and why metallic sheen, the quality of the gold, and whether it’s toxic or non-toxic are the key deciding factors. We’ve outlined them thoroughly to help you understand them easily.

Lastly, we combined our recommendations in different situations. So whether it is a gold leaf paint used on metal or a natural gold leaf paint, or the best gold liquid leaf paint, we’ve discussed it all.

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