Architectural & Exterior Gilding

Return your gilded structure to its original historic glory.

architectural gildingThroughout history and all across the world, metals like gold, silver, and other metal leaf varieties have been used to stunning effect in both exterior architecture and interior design. It is regularly found gleaming atop the domes of capitol buildings, statues, and other landmarks, and inspires solemnity and awe when incorporated into the paint, trim, furniture, and other decorative elements structures like capitol buildings, churches, theatres, and residences.

Unfortunately, as with other decorative elements, gilded items and structures can lose their luster over time. Improper handling, use, and cleaning can cause it to flake, peel, or become otherwise damaged. Changes to the underlying structure (for example, swelling plaster caused by water damage) can cause substantial damage as the metal leaf naturally shifts and adjusts itself to accommodate. Heavy rain, sleet, and snow can damage exterior gilding, as can items and debris carried by strong winds. Incompatible finishes, improper materials, and poor substrate preparation can reduce the lifespan of exterior gilding. Caretakers and groundskeepers seeking to stem damage may worsen it through amateur attempts. The list goes on.

At John Canning & Co., we have years of experience preserving, restoring, and recreating gilding on buildings of all types and styles. From the highest of domes to the interiors of iconic landmarks, churches, theatres, and residences, we’ve gilded them all—including the application and glazing of more than 90,000 square feet of gold, silver and copper leaf in ten weeks at Radio City Music Hall.

Testimonials

“Canning understands materials and specifications, especially traditional materials and techniques, and understands and appreciates the benefits of a truly collaborative effort in design excellence. [WV Capitol Dome]”
— ELIZABETH A. MOSS, LEED AP, ARCHITECTURAL CONSERVATOR, SWANKE HAYDEN CONNELL ARCHITECTS, NEW YORK CITY
“Canning has brought an outstanding common sense attitude of accomplishment to their work when many others are lost within myriad complex issues.”
— RUTHANN HUBBARD-KEMPER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PENNSYLVANIA CAPITOL PRESERVATION COMMITTEE, HARRISBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

Our Process

No two gilding projects are exactly alike; the precise steps involved will vary from project to project. That being said, our process will often follow the process outlined below. Before conducting any work, our first goal is to understand the history of the structure being worked on, including the role played by gilding in both original and current contexts. It is not uncommon for gilding restoration to be just one part of a project that also includes wood, stone, or plaster stabilization and restoration or other decorative work. At the same time, we must understand the full scope of the project being pursued, including the budget and expectations and aspirations of the owner and key stakeholders. Owners may request value engineering such as using aluminum leaf and a glaze or Dutch metal rather than genuine gold leaf. Samples of the various metal leafs will be provided for comparison. Once the project is fully understood, the underlying structure must be evaluated to determine whether or not there is any underlying damage or instabilities which may impact the gilded surface. If issues are identified, then actions will be taken to prevent future damage. Only then will work proceed with the application of metal leaf and glazing.

Cost Factors

The costs associated with a gilding project will depend on a number of factors. Some of these include:
  • The type of metal leaf to be used (whether gold, silver, or something else)
  • The size, complexity, and scope of the project
  • Required access (for example, whether the surface is located on a wall vs. a ceiling vs. an exterior surface like a dome)
  • Whether the underlying structure must be repaired, stabilized, or restored
  • Special materials costs
For this reason, it is difficult for us to say what a typical cost may be. The surest way to get an accurate picture of what the costs may entail would be to contact us directly.

Our Specialties

In addition to architectural and exterior gilding, we specialize in a number of other complementary services, including:
Request A Consultation

SELECTED PROJECTS

Our team provided restoration of the plaster, decorative painting, and historic woodwork repair and refinishing at the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building.

Read More →

John Canning Co. comprehensive restoration of Aesthetic period decoration designed by Richard M. Upjohn and William McPherson in 1878.

Read More →

Our skilled restoration team used traditional gold leaf and gilding methods and materials to restor the exterior roof on San Francisco's City Hall.

Read More →

We carefully installed the new Gothic Revival interior design that references Catholic liturgy, traditional iconography, and celebration of Saint Mary.

Read More →

We applied over 180,000 square feet of metal leaf and glazes in order to properly restore the 1932 historical golden interior of the Radio City Music Hall.

Read More →

The Philadelphia Academy of Music restoration involved analysis of up to 16 layers of paint aggressive exposure methods to reveal faintly ghosted patterns.

Read More →

Our conservation team restored the interior decoration painting, architectural gilding, and plaster at Rackham Auditorium, University of Michigan.

Read More →

We carefully restored the color palette and design revealed by paint study and scientific analysis is typical of churches dedicated to Marian worship.

Read More →

We were privileged to serve as a specialty contractor for the Metropolitan Theatre to conducted research and hands-on investigation of the historic finishes.

Read More →

The John Canning Co. restored the interior decoration at the University of Michigan Hill Auditorium using decorative painting techniques, transparent glazes, and gilding.

Read More →

New design schemes and murals were created by Canning Co. for this opulent private home in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Read More →

John Canning Co. revealed original colors and decoration with an historic paint analysis, performed wood conservation cleaning on furniture and wood trim, and repaired plaster and wood as needed.

Read More →

Canning Co. scheduled all trades and performed specialty contracting to conserve and restore fine-art murals, ornamental plaster, gilding, decorative finishes and the parquet floor of the ornately decorated Cosmos Club ballroom in Washington, DC.

Read More →

Canning Co. applied traditional gold leaf and gilding on the Charles Bulfinch dome and Lady Justice statue atop Connecticut's Old State House.

Read More →

We restored the Prometheus Statue, a National Historic Landmark located in Rockefeller Center using gold leaf gilding.

Read More →

We restored the decorative paintings and murals that had been painted over decades earlier and revealed with historic paint analysis and exposures.

Read More →

Our team of artisans restored and fabricated metal elements then applied sizing and gold leaf to specified areas of the West Virginia State Capitol.

Read More →

Our team coordinated all work and trades, responsible for the restoration of all designs for the Art Deco movie theatre built by Warner Brothers.

Read More →

We carefully applied traditional gold-leaf gilding and glazes on 500,000 linear feet of historic architectural elements at the War Memorial Opera House.

Read More →

Our team's historic paint analysis and interpretation defined the original colors and finishes of the State Theatre in Bay City, Michigan,

Read More →

Our team of artisans were the restoration consultants and specialty contractors for the historic Stadium Theatre decoration and finishes.

Read More →

We were able to uncovered original colors, patterns, and finishes to conserve 24 murals while restoring Stations of the Cross and the scagliola columns.

Read More →

We carefully conserved and restored all aspects of the Luzerne County Courthouses historic fabric: marble, metal, plaster, paint, and mural artwork.

Read More →

The Canning Co. process of archival research, hands-on investigation, scientific analysis, and interpretation led to the successful restoration of Battell Chapel’s original Victorian-era decorative painting scheme.

Read More →

We provided historic restoration and conservation of ornamental plaster and decorative painting, new murals, and complimentary design that reflects the Catholic liturgy, and honors Saint John.

Read More →