A Much Easier Way To “Gold Leaf” Cabinets (And Many Other Things)

Design

I love to try out new products, and I especially love to find new and easier ways to do things. One of the most time-consuming steps to finishing the cabinets on the mural wall of the studio was adding the gold leaf accent to all of the doors and drawers.

I know gold leaf isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I absolutely love it. I think the gold leaf accent on those cabinets is like the jewelry to finish off a pretty outfit. But my goodness, was it a tedious and very messy job!

All of that taping off, then painting on two coats of adhesive, then the messy process of adding the gold leaf, and then removing the tape and sealing the gold leaf. It was such a pain!

I still have this entire area of cabinets to finish (i.e., the “office” area of the studio)…

…and while I quite enjoy the sanding, priming, and painting process, I’ve been dreading the process of adding the trim, and then adding the gold leaf to the trim.

Anyway, I was searching on Amazon for something the other day, and I happened to come across this gold foil tape (affiliate link).

Anything shiny and gold is going to catch my eye 😀 , so I looked at the customer reviews to see what people were using this tape for. People were using it to add gold “frames” to their TVs, and other fun things. I didn’t have any specific need for it at the moment, but I thought it might be fun to have some on hand just in case inspiration strikes, so I bought a three-pack of the tape for just under $10. The tape is just over 1/2 inch wide, and each roll has 32 feet of tape.

When it arrived, I still didn’t have a use for it. But I unwrapped it and was going to put it into one of the drawers in my studio, and I noticed that the color was almost identical to the gold leaf accent on my cabinets. I thought, “Oh my gosh, how much time would that save me if I could just use tape to add this accent!

I wasn’t convinced that it would work. After all, finding a non-gold leaf option to replicate the look of gold leaf is almost impossible. Over the years, I’ve tried waxes (like Rub ‘N Buff), paints, liquid gilding, and so many other things to try to replicate that real metallic look. And if you’ll remember, my first attempt at adding gold to my cabinets was done with a gold paint pen.

It wasn’t horrible, but it was definitely darker than an actual gold leaf, and it didn’t have that same shine to it that gold leaf has. It’s just very hard (almost impossible) to replicate the look of actual metal with non-metallic products.

But when I saw this tape next to my cabinets, I thought that this might actually be the one thing that can replicate the look of real gold leaf. (And of course, when I say “real gold leaf”, I’m not meaning to imply that the metal leaf I use is real gold. I simply mean that it’s real metal. So while it’s real metal, I only ever use imitation gold.)

So I tested one strip on my cabinets, and then stood back to compare. Can you tell which one of these lines of gold is the metallic tape?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s the one that’s the most consistent gold color and doesn’t have these dark spots that always seem to appear on my gold leaf projects.

I’ll even narrow it down and tell you that it’s one of the eight lines on these two doors. Can you tell?

I was absolutely amazed at how perfectly this metallic tape matched the gold leaf. Even standing up close, I can’t tell a difference at all. And the best part is that it took me all of about two minutes to put the one strip on and trim off the excess. This literally would have saved me hours of work that I spent gold leafing the 20 doors and drawer fronts on this mural wall! And there’s none of the mess that comes along with using sheets of gold leaf.

So which one is the tape? It’s the top left.

That one is the tape, and the rest are gold leaf. And they all look identical to each other. Even standing in the room, and standing up close, there’s no way anyone would ever be able to tell that this one is different from the others.

Now obviously, this tape isn’t completely a replacement for gold leaf. There’s no way I could have gold leafed the light in the back entry of my studio using this tape.

But for projects that need simple, clean lines of gold, this gold foil tape is my new gold leaf replacement. Now I’m actually looking forward to doing the rest of the cabinets and seeing just how quickly I can do the gold leaf accent! I imagine it’ll take me a fraction of the time that the mural wall cabinets took. Oh well, it’s all a learning process!

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