A Guide to Decorating Wooden Furniture

How to Wax Gilt Furniture

© Apply wax gilt sparingly, smoothing it back and forth to bring out the sheen. When the gilt has set, buff it lightly.

Applying a gold finish or gilding is another option to restore your wooden furniture. This process can be added to ornate carvings or carved mirror and picture frames on furniture to create a special look.

The traditional gilding method is gold-leafing, done with thin sheets of gold foil. Gold leaf is beautiful and durable, but it's also very expensive. Bronzing, a more recent gilding technique, is done with powdered gold, either mixed into a vehicle or applied directly. It may fade with time, however. Bronze powder is made in gold, silver, bronze, copper, and colors; it is often used for stencils on furniture.


The easiest way to apply gold is wax gilding. Wax gilt is a paste, made in gold, silver, bronze, copper, and colors and sold at craft and art supply stores. It's inexpensive and looks very much like gold leaf. For moldings or small-area highlighting, wax gilt is the best choice. Use it over gold leaf paint for the best results.

Application Techniques

A surface to be gilded must be clean. Remove all wax and dirt. If you're working on a picture frame, clean the surface very gently with a damp cloth, and let it dry thoroughly.

For the deepest gold effect, paint the area to be gilded with liquid gold leaf paint, using a 1/2-inch brush. Let the paint dry completely, about 30 minutes, and then apply the wax gilt.

To apply the gilt, dip an artists' brush or a piece of soft cloth into turpentine and then into the gilt; if the gilt is in a tube, squeeze a little out so it's easier to work with.

Wax gilt is thick; apply it sparingly, smoothing it on. Press gently as you work, smoothing or brushing back and forth, to bring out the sheen of the gold.

When the entire surface is covered, let the gilt set for about an hour; then carefully buff the surface, in one direction only, with a soft cloth. The buffing distributes and highlights the gilt. No surface protection or further finishing is necessary.

Looking for a simpler, more economical way to decorate your furniture piece? Check out the guidelines for stenciling furniture wood in the next section.