Architectural and Exterior Gilding Services

Return your gilded structure to its original historic glory. 

Throughout 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, inspiring solemnity and awe when incorporated into the architectural features of paint, trim, furniture, and other decorative elements of structures like civic buildings, churches, theatres, and residences.

Unfortunately, as with other decorative elements, gilded items and structures can lose their luster over time. Improper gilding techniques, use, and cleaning can cause layers of gold leaf to flake, peel, or become otherwise damaged.

Changes to the underlying structure (e.g., swelling plaster from water damage) can cause substantial harm 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 these precious metals as well.

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 architectural details 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.

If you would like to connect with one of our professional consultants please request a consultation below.

Our Gilding Process

No two gilding projects are exactly alike; the precise steps involved will vary from project to project. That being said, our process often follows the process outlined below.

Before conducting any work, our first goal is to understand the history of the structure, including the role played by gilding in both original and current contexts. It is not uncommon for gilding restoration to be one part of an extensive 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, as well as the aspirations of the owner and key stakeholders. Owners may request value engineering like using aluminum leaf with a glaze or Dutch metal rather than traditional gold leaf. Samples of the various metal leafs will be provided for comparison.

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 (gold, silver, etc.)
  • The size, complexity, and scope of the project
  • Required access (e.g., 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 will 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:

Selected Projects

John Canning West Virginia State Capitol Restoration

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

John Canning War Memorial Opera House Restoration

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

John Canning San Francisco City Hall Restoration

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


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.


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

John Canning Prometheus Rockefeller Center Restoration

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

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


The Art of Exterior Gilding & Domes

A Guide To Understanding the Process, Materials & Expertise Needed