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- generally taken to mean the covering of furniture, decoration etc with gold leaf, but can also be undertaken in silver and a number of alloys. There are two methods of guilding, oil guilding and water guilding which refers to the manner in which the surface was treated prior to the leaf being applied. Water guilding which achieved a better adhesion and could therefore be burnished was the more expensive. Oil guilding while suitable for outside use, could not be burnished (presumably because the leaf would move around on the oil) and was cheaper.