This paper discusses a pulse electroplating method for preparing copper (Cu)-coated gas diffusion electrodes (GDEs) for the electrochemical conversion of carbon dioxide (CO2) to hydrocarbons such as ethylene. Ionomer coating and air-plasma surface pre-treatments were explored as means of hydrophilizing the carbon surface to enable adhesion of electrodeposited material. The pulsed-current electrodeposition method used successfully generated copper and copper oxide micro- and nano-particles on the prepared surfaces. Copper(I) species identified on the ionomer-treated GDEs are presumed to be highly active for the selective generation of ethylene as compared to other gaseous byproducts of CO2 reduction. Conversely, copper catalysts deposited onto plasma-treated GDEs were found to have poor activity for hydrocarbon production, likely due to substantial metallic character. Of note, plasma treatment of an ionomer-treated GDE after copper plating yielded further improvements in catalytic activity and durability towards ethylene production.