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

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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    1. I’ll be interested to compare that as well. At least if a strip of the tape gets damaged, it’s very quick and easy to replace it! Repairing damaged gold leaf is a much longer (and messier) process.

  1. Wow, super product, cannot wait to use it myself. I’ve got a couple of straight-line projects that this will be PERFECT for. Thanks for the recommendation. I cannot wait to see the Eggplant doors; I am so happy that color won out. Cheers, and all the best.

  2. Foil tape is great. We used it to turn plastic cups into rocket nozzles for a kiddo costume. Glad you found an alternate.

    I reccomend putting some on a scrap and leaving it outside in the weather to see how it fails. The outdoor treatment pretty much speeds up the aging to know how it’ll peel/wear. If you have to fix it, new rolls may come in different shades/colors and the exact thing may not be available if you have to replace it.

  3. Your studio is so awesome! It’s not the same room as the sunroom, though, right? Do you have any plans for that space yet?

  4. The gold tape looks the same as the gold leaf. I couldn’t tell the difference even with all the hints. It’s beautiful. If you decide to use the gold metal tape will you still need to seal it to keep it in place…..like maybe it coming loose after a while?

    1. I’m not sure. I’m going to leave it unsealed for a while and see how it holds up. I sealed the gold leaf with a small brush (rather than spraying it), so if the tape needs to be sealed, I can do that later in the same way.

  5. I’m delighted for you! And thank you for the opportunity to say to myself “A-ha! I was right!” today. Those opportunities seems to be decreasing lately. 🙂

    Also, YAY for Eggplant! I was going to be very disappointed if anything other than that or a pink won.

  6. I love the way the tape looks, and I like it better than the gold leaf. Sorry you had to do the other gold leafing, but as you say it is a learning process. I have had my share of those. My craft room has a painting that is maroon and gold. I started looking around the room and I got so excited. I could see how I could go crazy with it on several items. I will have to pick and choose which ones to add the tape to. I wouldn’t want to over kill it. lol I liked the other colors too, so I will be ordering more. Thank You for giving us that information. I have been following you for years and have never been disappointed in your work. Give yourself a pat on the back!!

    1. I’m going to try it without sealing it for a while and see how it holds up. If I think I need to seal it later, I’ll do it with a small brush, like I did with the gold leaf, so that I can seal them without having to remove doors and drawers again. But hopefully it won’t need to be sealed! I’ll keep y’all updated on how the tape holds up.

      1. I wonder if sealing it would help it hold up better/longer? Maybe try sealing part and leaving part alone, to compare how the tape holds up both with and without being sealed?

  7. The true test will be how it holds up compared to the gold leaf papers. But it is nice as an alternative for so many uses!

  8. Kristi, l am excited about that tape! Going to order some!
    Also so excited about the eggplant. I put it secong on my choice but it has always been my first choice. I didnt think it mattered what order. But l am so glad to see it painted. Gold leaf on it would be amazing!