Gold Showing Through Black

Tips on achieving an artistic finish: A gold undercoat showing through a sanded-back black topcoat. February 13, 2006

We have a job that involves something we're not proficient at. The project involves a china hutch with 6-lite glass doors that the customer wants finished in black with gold showing through - or burnished, if thats the right term. For our paint grade jobs we typically use ML Campbell opaque base tinted products. I'm having a problem getting a gold that looks good. Also, what techniques do you use to cut through the top black layer so that the gold shows through elegantly?

Forum Responses
(Finishing Forum)
From contributor A:
Give this a try, on a sample. Clear coat the glass, and allow to dry. Use a gold glaze - you can brush out the glaze, or dab and mottle the glaze as in faux marble. Allow it to dry, and then clear coat and allow to dry. Then apply your black coat, allow to dry, and clear coat. It's a reversed process that is very attractive, and you can add many artistic options.

From contributor B:
I would use the following process:

1. Vinyl Sealer - sand.
2. Opaque color Gold (pigmented vinyl or lacquer)- 2 coats. Sand.
3. Opaque color Black, to cover.
4. Rub-through with low abrasive sand pad or light solvent, to desired look.

5. Clear topcoat.

From contributor C:
Apply a sealer coat, then apply the gold - as much as it takes to completely cover - then seal the gold (clear). Then apply black - not too heavy. Let it dry, then sand back to the gold where you want it to show. Go black again - it should be covered thoroughly where you didn't sand through. The sanded through areas should still be fairly visible so you can sand again, then apply final clear coat. This technique minimizes the amount of sanding you have to do to remove the black, which in turn minimizes the amount of gold you'll accidentally sand through. It's probably best to have one person do the sanding through. Individual techniques usually don't match, and you don't want one side to look too different from the other. It's a pretty forgiving process - if you don't like something, add more black or gold, and start over.

From contributor A:
This was done on clear glass. I use a water clear acrylic as my coating, and the colored speckling can be done with either colored pigments or with dyes. The gold is acrylic, followed with acrylic clear coats to protect the finish. There are many decorative finishes that be be done with these same products. The glass top increases the beauty of the finishes. It's smooth and glossy.

Click here for full size image

From contributor D:
This sounds like a classic rub through. The gold is an important and overlooked feature. There are a lot of cheap looking gold paints that just don't give the luster and sheen of gold. I use Ronan almost exclusively. It can give you the tone you want, with various shades to choose from. It has a high metallic content and wears exceptionally well. The only drawback is its relatively high price, but considering the cost of the job, it is really a small cost. It can be found at one of your high end paint or specialty paint stores that carry faux stuff, or ordered online.

If you insist on keeping it cheap (normally customers who want gold on cabinetry do not want cheap), I would use a couple products for base coating larger faux work, Muralo and Ralph Lauren. Both are pretty decent, and can be found at Home Depot. I'd stay far away from gold paint found at your local paint store. Also, the gold paint is a fast drying latex, so I'd double coat it, and youíre done. This will give you higher build so less chance of sanding through it. Seal it also.

When sanding down the black itís important to use a very fine sandpaper or abrasive pad. This will give you the smooth flow into the gold from the black, and will give a much smoother surface to boot. That will be the difference between an artful flow between colors, and a hack with a 100 grit sanding block.

Finally, since you didn't mention the customer wanting any other type of distress, I'm guessing itís another one of those structured distressed pieces that are popular now. If that is the case, keep your rub-through narrowed lines following the lines of the piece, edges of boxes, etc. Do not make the rub-through wide unless the customer asks for it. Sand very lightly along the top of the profiles and detail. Tips should show here and there but not every tip and not every profile. I usually complete the look with some aging glaze over the gold and in the detail to give an added dimension.