Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Making Your Own DIY Silver Leaf Furniture

Silver leaf is a way to add a feminine touch to your room.  It's a little bit of glitz and a sprinkle of glam.  Translucent furniture and mirrored dressers are my other favorites because they're flashy and attention grabbing. Silver leaf adds the same pop but in a new way.

Make sure you set aside a good chunk of your day for a project like this as it's likely going to take you 3-5 hours + an extra hour to spend washing all the silver flakes out of your hair.

What exactly is silver leaf?

Silver leaf is a very thin sheet of silver.  It is used to decorate walls, furniture, lighting fixtures, picture frames, mirrors, and anything else you can think of.  When done correctly, it can give a off a beautiful shine and custom look.

Materials Checklist:

  • Metal Leaf Adhesive
  • 50-75 Sheets of Silver Leaf depending on how big your dresser is
  • Paintbrush
  • Water-Based Polycrylic Sealer
  • Sponge
  • Silver Spray Paint
  • A Tarp, Painters Plastic, or Blanket to cover the floor
Before you attempt this project, be forewarened that you may end up with flakes of silver leaf in your hair.  I've done it before and let's just say I told everyone I put glitter in my hair.

How to Make Your Own Silver Leaf Cabinets

Step 1: Dismantling the Cabinet
The first thing you want to do is pull out all of the drawers.  Some dressers may require you to lift up on the end of the drawer to get it out of the tract.  We need to remove the drawers so that we can silver leaf all of the edges.

Step 2: Applying the Adhesive
The next thing you want to do is apply the silver leaf adhesive.  It's a special adhesive and not just a generic/all-purpose adhesive.  Make sure you wipe the entire surface down with a clean cloth to remove any dirt or dust.

Tip: The silver leaf adhesive will only stay sticky for up to 15 minutes max so make sure you do this in small enough sections so you can work through the entire project without having to rush.

Step 3: Silver Leafing Your Dresser
This is the most important part.  We'll be applying the silver leaf sheets to the dresser/cabinet individually.  Go slow with this and try to get out any lines or imperfections in the sheets. Silver leaf sheets are very delicate so they are going to tear.  Don't fret if this happens to you.  All you have to do is tear out a smaller piece to fill.  You can overlap a little bit to make sure that the entire surface is covered.  It won't be very noticeable when you're finished.

Step 4: Sealing the Silver Leaf
Now we have to seal the silver leaf to protect it.  I'd advise using a water-based polycrylic.  Just use your paint brush to apply a moderate layer of sealant to the entire dresser.  Make sure that you get all the ends, corners, and cracks so your silver leaf doesn't start pealing in areas that the sealant wasn't added.  I'd do it in small portions to make sure that you get every square inch.  Allow recommended time to dry.

Step 5: Adding the Finishing Touches
Don't stop there!  Make your dresser awesome!  Add some new hardware to seal the deal and make it look like a completely new drawer.  The old drawer pulls probably drag the appearance of the rest of your silver leaf finish and they probably don't match.  You can find many different types of drawer pulls at your local hardware store.
And that my friends is how you silver leaf furniture!  If you have any other questions, you can send me a tweet @SuperInteriors or you can leave a comment below.


  1. Cheryl - Nice blog post and great topic. I would add as a bit of a finishing veteran that the most important step in any finishing project is one that you have inadvertently left out. You must prepare the surface before applying the adhesive for adhesion and to make sure the underlying surface is intact. It would be a shame for someone to go through all the work and energy and expense of a project like this just to have the underlying finish start to delaminate or crack, peel, etc. Surface must be clean of all grease, cleaners, etc. Then it should be sanded with a 220 grit paint grade sandpaper or a grey synthetic scotch brite pad at the very least! Best regards, John Strauss

  2. Hi John, I appreciate your comment. When I was writing this post, I did think about adding the prep section but I thought that cleaning the surface was a given. I wanted to keep the post short and concise without sounding too basic without adding any real advice. Looking back, I see where you're coming from and I agree. The prep work is the most important part. I'm going to revise the post to add the prep. Just goes to show you that there are no short cuts! Thanks John!

  3. Hi carol love this idea so much, can I use this technique on bathroom tiles or would I have to use something different.