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How To Decoupage On Wood Furniture 2024 [A Step-by-Step Guide]

By: Susie
Updated On: August 8, 2023

If you like me and adore a unique piece of furniture that tells a story or are just itching to revamp a plain old chair or table, learning how to decoupage wood furniture may open up a whole new world.

It’s an incredibly creative, engaging, and wallet-friendly way to give that old, tired piece of furniture in your home a fresh, beautiful lease on life.

In DIY projects and repurposing furniture, little creates such an impact as decoupage. Not only can it transform items from drab to fab in no time at all, but it also lets you put your personal touch on your furnishings.

And trust me, once you’ve mastered the art of decoupage, you will find yourself looking around your home for more ways to breathe new life into cherished heirlooms, and thrift-store finds using this excellent technique.


What is Decoupage?

What is Decoupage?

When we talk about decoupage, we’re referring to the art of decorating an object by meticulously gluing colorful paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects and other decorative elements.

  • Decoupage, derived from the French word decouper, meaning “to cut out,” is a craft that dates back to the 12th century. Its origins are traced back to East Siberian tomb art, which was highly admired and adopted by the Chinese in the 17th century.
  • It gained significant popularity in Europe in the 18th Century. It was dubbed “the art of the poor” because it provided an alternative to famously intricate hand-painted furniture, which was expensive then.
  • Today, it’s a beloved technique used by many DIY enthusiasts and artists who appreciate its ability to transform plain items into unique works of art.
  • Perfect for infusing life into old or drab wood furniture, decoupage allows you to create unique pieces resonating with your style.

With a variety of materials—papers, magazines, fabric scraps—and some mod podge (a type of glue, sealer, and finish used primarily for decoupage), the possibilities are truly endless. The result is a beautifully decorated item with captivating depth and radiant colors.

When discussing how to decoupage on wood furniture, we’re discussing taking something simple or worn-out and jazzing it up—making it look stunning by pasting perfectly trimmed pieces of paper onto it.

Advantages of Decoupaging Furniture

Advantages of Decoupaging Furniture

We often consider decorating our homes a significant expense, but it does not always have to be so. With time, creativity, and practice, you can give your rooms a major aesthetic upgrade using decoupage. But its benefit extends far beyond just making things look good.

Enhanced Aesthetics and Personalization

Decoupage allows you to design furniture with a personalized touch. The creative possibilities it offers can help anyone turn smooth surfaces into lively works of art, injecting color and personality into any room of your home.

  • Uniquity: Out the mass-produced items at the store! By decoupaging furniture, each piece becomes distinctive and reflects your style.
  • Storytelling: With each decoupage project, you create an artwork that tells a story that resonates with your journey or communicates an idea you appreciate.
  • Focal Point: A well-decoupaged piece draws attention in any space, making it a great conversation starter for guests.

Budget-Friendly and Eco-Conscious Option

Let’s face it: redecorating can get expensive quickly–especially when we’re talking about buying new pieces of furniture. However, one of Decoupage’s chief benefits is that it remains budget-friendly.

  • Saving Money: Why buy brand-new items when you can breathe fresh life into the ones you already have? Decoupage materials are inexpensive compared to new tables, dressers, or chairs.
  • Eco-friendly: Fewer dismissals mean fewer items in landfills and less demand for new production, often involving logging for wood-based furniture or energy-intensive processes for metal and plastic.
  • Multiple Uses: Once opened, Mod Podge (glue, sealer & finish used especially in decoupage projects) lasts for years & can be used on various projects–decoupage and otherwise–meaning even supplies represent bang-for-buck longevity.

Transformation of Old or Plain Furniture Into Unique Pieces

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure—this may well be the unofficial tagline for all who love the art of decoupage.

People often get rid of old furniture when they redecorate or move to a new place–either due to a change in decor trends or because they don’t match their taste anymore.

However, these ‘outdated’ pieces provide an excellent canvas for those who know how to wield scissors, paper & glue.

Decoupage helps transform old or plain-looking furniture into beautiful pieces packed with character: mix-match designs on different areas; match colors with decor theme; make a distressed look using sandpaper after application of paper & paint layers.

Remember: ‘old’ is often code for quality workmanship & durable material–why to let go of such resilient candidates when they can be dressed up anew?

Few things are more satisfying than sitting back after hard work & admiring the transformation brought upon by diligent, creative efforts. There’s pride in ownership when the effort put forth makes result truly yours!

That’s what endears me –and I bet plenty of others– to the process: There’s something uniquely compelling about owning items that reflect who we are rather than opting for cookie-cutter alternatives produced en masse by large corporations.

Different Types of Decoupage Paper

Different Types of Decoupage Paper

One of the most exciting aspects of Decoupage is the fantastic array of papers you can choose from. Different papers achieve diverse effects, and understanding your choices will help you create truly spectacular pieces.

Here are three popular types to consider when planning your next decoupage project: tissue papers, napkins, and printed papers.

Tissue Paper: Delicate and Versatile

Tissue paper is a popular choice for decoupaging as its translucent nature allows for intriguing light play and depth when overlapped.

  • It’s often used when creating a watercolor effect or working with a base color you may want to show through.
  • The thinner nature of tissue paper means it easily conforms to the curves and contours of your furniture.
  • A practical tip: Due to its thinness, tissue paper can tear easily, especially when wet with glue. Handle with care to avoid ripping.
  • Tissue paper comes in vast colors and patterns, allowing ample experimentation.

Napkins: Intricate Designs and Patterns

Using napkins in decoupage is a quirky idea that has taken the craft world by storm—mainly because napkin patterns are richly detailed artworks in their own right!

  • One unique characteristic is that many decorative napkins are made up of multiple layers – usually two or three. For decoupage, you’ll generally remove all but the topmost printed layer.
  • Make sure you peel off any unprinted layers before applying your napkin onto the furniture; it’ll give a smoother result.
  • Napkin designs range from elaborate florals to holiday themes, natural scenes, and artsy abstracts—whatever suits your style!

Printed Paper: Customizable and Themed Options

When discussing printed paper in decoupage terms, we refer to pages from sources such as books, magazines, or digital images printed on regular printer paper. This opens up limitless possibilities!

  • For book lovers – consider old encyclopedia pages or texts from books published in foreign languages for an intellectual vibe.
  • Magazine cut-outs offer high-resolution images from glossy photoshoots or beautiful typography from ad sections—a contemporary touch!
  • Custom-printed images let you personalize even further – perhaps with family photos or favorite travel snaps? Photos could be scanned into a computer and then replicated before being used.

Remember two things before jumping into your project:

  • Different paper types absorb glue/adhesive differently – expect some trial-and-error time as part of your learning curve!
  • When cutting out shapes/designs, try using small scissors or a utility knife for precision…although if perfection isn’t what you’re aiming for (and often in artistic pursuits, it shouldn’t be!), then rough edges can add an intriguing organic feel.

Choosing your decoupage medium allows for creative experimentation! Be brave – mix different types in one piece!

Deciding which type of paper suits your project best depends mainly on the look and feel you’re going for; be guided by trial-and-error alongside personal preference, and watch how an unassuming piece turns into art.

How To Decoupage On Wood Furniture: 7 Easy Steps

Steps to Decoupage Wood Furniture

Decoupaging furniture is a fun and easy way of infusing new life into old or drab items. Whether breathing fresh air into antique furniture or creating a unique ensemble, the process remains more or less the same. Here are the initial steps for successful decoupage on wood furniture:

1. Preparation of Materials and Workspace

Like every masterpiece, great decoupage begins with good preparation. And trust me, it can make all the difference between a decoupage project that is enjoyable and one that is frustrating.

Gather your materials:

  • Furniture piece: Choose your wooden item. This can be anything from tables, chairs, cabinets – even lamp bases!
  • Decoupage medium: I prefer Mod Podge because it’s very user-friendly, but other brands exist.
  • Brushes: Invest in high-quality brushes with firm bristles – they make a difference.
  • Decoupage paper: Go wild with this – use anything from specialty decoupage paper to wallpaper scraps, napkins, and even photographs!

Set up your workspace:

An ideal workspace has plenty of room to move around your furniture piece and is well-ventilated if you’re working with any strong glue or varnish.

Cover your work surface: It can get messy, so protect your surfaces with newspaper or a drop cloth. Always have wet wipes on hand for cleaning spills or excess glue.

Arrange your tools: Set out all of your devices before you start. You don’t want to be rushing around looking for them halfway through!

2. Surface Preparation: Sanding and Cleaning

Before applying paper pieces, proper surface preparation is key to ensuring that the items adhere well and last long on your furniture.


For raw wood pieces: Start lightly sanding any rough spots on the wood using fine-grit sandpaper (around 120-grit).

For painted details: Essentially, you want an “abrasion” onto which glue can grip better, so lightly sand the entire piece using medium-grit sandpaper (around 80-grit).

Remember my suggestion: always sand along the wood grain – it reduces scratch marks.

After sanding, wipe away any dust residue with a dry cloth.


Prepare a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap. Using another clean cloth dampened in this mixture, cleanse carefully every part of it and allow it to dry completely before proceeding further.

Preparing properly assures that when we move on to the exciting part—applying our cutouts—the items will adhere well to our wooden object.

Furthermore, starting clean extends longevity, meaning our beloved creation will look stunning for longer!

What are the next steps? The fun begins when we select those beautiful pieces of paper imagery we will use…but more about that later.

3. Selection and Cutting of Decoupage Paper

Choosing the right decoupage paper forms the heart of your DIY project. It will determine your theme, color palette, and overall aesthetic.

  • Printed Tissue Paper: This is my favorite because it’s delicate and almost translucent. When glued onto objects, the edges disappear, and it blends seamlessly with the furniture.
  • Patterned Napkins: These could offer intricate designs that can be utilized effectively for a prime focus design.
  • Thick Paper/Craft Paper: If you’re seeking something more robust or designs that are more specific to suit the theme of a room or an occasion, opt for craft paper prints.

Making your selection boils down to personal preference. Look for designs that resonate with your style.

The next step is to cut out your chosen images. Carefully doing so ensures that they align nicely with your wooden piece. Some people may prefer to tear their pictures up for a more rustic look.

4. Applying Adhesive: Suitable Glue Types for Decoupage

One vital ingredient in our decoupage endeavor is a reliable adhesive! You would want something that dries clear and adheres well – essentially binds everything together while maintaining its hidden status.

  • My go-to product has always been Mod Podge, given it’s easy to apply and dries clearly. Additionally, it comes in several finishes – matte, satin, or glossy – allowing you control over your desired piece luster.
  • For more demanding jobs – sticking heavier papers such as scrapbook paper – try using tacky glue mixed with water (50-50 solution), which offers a stronger bond than pure PVA glue alone.

Ensure you apply an even layer of adhesive using a brush onto the surface where you’ll place the paper cutouts.

5. Arranging and Gluing The Paper Onto Furniture Surfaces

This is where things start shaping up! Arrange your cut-outs on the furniture before gluing them down permanently.

This gives you an idea about how they’ll look eventually when stuck in place. Start from one end and progress maintaining flow with each piece of art overlapping another slightly, allowing merging into an incredibly cohesive work of art by its completion.

Once satisfied with how things look dry, it’s time to make it permanent! Reapply a fresh layer of adhesive (if dried out), then gently press each cutout from the center, pushing towards the edges, ensuring no air bubbles are trapped underneath, causing unsightly bumps later.

6. Smoothing Out Wrinkles And Air Bubbles

Remember how smoothing out wrinkles and air bubbles was important? Once all pieces are glued on relaxingly wait until nearly dry before trying any smoothing attempts, as doing so immediately may tear our precious paper due to excess moisture, making it extremely fragile!

Use a flat straight, edge tool like old credit cards or specialty decoupage smoother working from the center towards edges, paving the way for trapped air escape ensuring smooth application without annoying wrinkle formation.

7. Optional: Adding Additional Layers For Depth And Texture

If desired – go ahead with layering up additional cutouts creating fascinating depth and textured dimensions, enhancing the richness of the furniture’s appeal.

Layering works particularly well when using different types/styles/patterns, coordinating beautifully and offering unique texture-depth combinations, transforming basic wooden structures into artistic masterpieces.

Wait between addition to each layer – patience pays off in luxurious linear illusion adding fabulous finish touch confirming mastery over this fun craft!

So there we have – a simple yet detailed guide leading you through a magical transformation journey, turning old mundane pieces into exciting new conversation starters that will impress guests at the next get-together!

Whether experienced DIYer or novice crafter, I believe everyone can enjoy satisfaction produced by successful personal creation instilled fervor love creativity! Enjoy a voyage exploring unlimited boundaries offered by decoupage art.

How to Seal Decoupage

After hours spent cutting out that intricate design, arranging and gluing it down, and smoothing out air bubbles and wrinkles, you might think the decoupage process is over.

But don’t celebrate just yet! Our project’s longevity and durability depend heavily on the next important step: sealing.

Sealing is crucial because it protects your artwork from damage or wear and enhances its aesthetics by improving the finish and intensifying color and details.

Importance of sealing to protect and preserve the artwork

Sealing is something that shouldn’t be rushed or overlooked. Here are some reasons why:

  • It helps maintain your creation’s vibrancy and freshness.
  • It safeguards the surface against unwanted scratches or chips.
  • A well-sealed piece makes cleaning easier without fear of ruining your meticulous work.
  • The proper sealant can make colors more vivid and deepen contrasts in print.

In short, honest time spent on sealing ensures your gorgeous decoupage will keep turning heads for many years!

Clear Varnish or Sealant Options: Water-Based vs. Oil-Based

Different sealants offer varied finishes for your masterpiece. They can be divided mainly into two types:

  • Water-Based Varathanes: These dry clear without adding a tint of yellow—an ideal property if you wish to retain the natural color tones of your cut-outs—plus, they’re non-toxic with almost no odor! Examples include Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer (offers matte or gloss finish) – water-based, perfect for both paper & fabric decoupage.
  • Oil-Based Polyurethanes: They create a more durable finish but do tend to add a slight yellow tint with time. They also have a strong odor during application. An example would be Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane, known for its long-lasting protective finish but comes with a pungent smell during drying!

Pick the type that suits you best depending on your desired outcome (intensity of colors, glossiness).

Application of Sealant: Brushing or Spraying

The process doesn’t vary much irrespective of what type you use:

  • Prepare Surface: Ensure the decoupaged surface is free from dust or grit before applying any finish.
  • Stir, Don’t Shake: Stirring minimizes potential bubbles, unlike vigorous shaking!
  • Apply Thin Coats: With either spray or brush technique, remember—several thin layers are better than one thick one!
  • Between Coats: Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before lightly sanding (with a very fine-grit sandpaper), this provides “teeth” for subsequent coats to adhere better; wipe away residue afterward!
  • Repeat Steps: Apply as many coats as needed until you achieve smoothness; patience pays off here!

Whether using a brushing or spraying approach depends on personal preference & project’s complexity; specific detailed projects might benefit from spray application, while others may look great with brushed-on sealants.

Drying and Curing Time for Optimal Results

Drying times vary depending upon sealant type & environmental conditions, though patience always yields superior results!


  • After applying the final coat, let it dry untouched overnight.
  • Don’t judge sealant by initial appearances—it takes a full week for complete hardness
  • The curing period might range between 1-4 weeks depending upon factors like humidity & temperature

During the curing period, avoid placing objects on furniture surfaces or usage that might risk damaging finishing touches

And that’s how we perfect our decoupaged furniture masterpiece—by protecting it appropriately! So go forth now confident in how decoupage can transform drab to dandy + armed with all necessary tools/explanations/tips, allowing creativity to take flight.

Tips and Tricks for Successful Decoupage

Tips and Tricks for Successful Decoupage

Throughout my decoupage journey, I’ve discovered several little “secrets” that can transform your decoupage project from good to breathtaking.

Below, I’ll share some crucial tips and tricks that will help ensure your decoupage project is a triumph.

Correctly Matching and Combining Different Paper Types

Different types of paper can result in strikingly different results in your decoupage projects:

  • Original Decoupage Paper: This type of paper is thicker, which makes it easier to handle without tearing. Its vivid color makes it a perfect choice for a bold design.
  • Tissue Paper: Thin and delicate tissue paper creates a translucent effect allowing layered designs. Being lightweight makes it prone to wrinkling, so take care of its application.
  • Napkin Decoupage: Using napkins for decoupage presents intricate designs when done right. Remember to remove additional backing layers before applying them on the surface.
  • Wallpaper: Its thickness provides durability but requires a stronger adhesive to secure correctly.

Always consider their thickness and textures when combining different paper types in one project.

Pages from old books or maps, greeting cards, and even fabrics can all be used effectively if we consider how each paper’s properties will affect the final result.

Achieving a Seamless Blend of Decoupage and Furniture

Your goal should always be to make the decoupaged image look like it was initially part of the furniture. Here are a few points to achieve seamless blending:

  • Consider the size of your furniture piece when choosing an image – find something proportionate for neat aesthetics.
  • Aim for color compatibility between your chosen picture and the paint color or stain on your piece of furniture.
  • The edges where your cut-out image meets the wood should be nearly invisible. Soften these edges by lightly sanding after drying.

Adding Complementary Paint or Distressing For a Vintage Look

To create that charming “worn-out” vintage look:

  • Opt for paint that complements your selected images – distress lightly with sandpaper following painting.
  • After attaching images, sand gently at various places over the top, mimicking years of wear – remember you are aiming for authenticity!

Are we bare wood people? If yes, apply some stain on those sections highlighting age through the years.

My secret tip? A tiny bit of dark wax applied around corners and edges creates fantastic depth!

Experimenting With Layering and 3D Effects

Want to push boundaries? Experiment with layering effects! Layer more than one piece over another, starting with the most extensive selections and building up towards the smallest ones providing depth perception.

If you’re feeling even more audacious, try 3D effects creating small peaks or “pillows” using bubble wrap or sponge beneath each cutout, giving them volume before gluing them down.

Remember these golden rules:

  • Experimentation leads you closer to perfection.
  • Learning never exhausts the mind but expands potential.
  • Rome wasn’t built in one day – progress may seem slow, but every step forward is vital!

Let’s not view any less-than-successful attempt as failure; instead, see it as another step closer to mastering this addictive art form.

These tips shared from my journey might make yours less bumpy, but remember being unique with room for refinement is a true beauty.

Additional Resources

If you’re new to decoupage or looking to level up your existing skills, I’m here to provide additional resources to guide your way.

The following are my recommendations for the best tools to ensure your decoupaging goes as smoothly as possible, plus a guide on creating layered and 3D effects.

List of Recommended Decoupage Materials and Tools

While extremely artistic, Decoupage doesn’t require you to invest a fortune in materials or tools. Here’s my go-to list:

  • Furniture Piece: Your choice entirely! Think wooden chairs, tables, cabinets, picture frames – anything with a smooth surface.
  • Decoupage Medium: My favorites are Mod Podge and Clear Acrylic Sealer for finishing touches, both available at your local craft store or online.
  • Brushes: A set of flat brushes for large areas and smaller detail brushes for precision work should be sufficient.
  • Cutter: An Exacto Knife or a Precision Cutting Scissor is perfect for accurately cutting images from paper or fabric.
  • Sanding Paper: An 80-grit for painted pieces or a 120-grit for raw wood items will suffice.
  • Decoupage paper: Endless options here – newspaper cut-outs, designer papers, tissue napkins with beautiful prints – even old maps do wonderfully!
  • Adhesives: As mentioned before, Mod Podge is my go-to adhesive because it acts as glue and sealer together, which makes it less messy but feels free to experiment with others out there.

Experimenting With Layering and 3D Effects

Now that we have our toolbox ready, let’s move forward with exploring ways in which we can add depth and texture to our decoupaged furniture:

  • Layering: It simply applies multiple layers of images onto the furniture piece, one on top of another, using your adhesive medium. It gives depth to your piece by creating a sense of perspective – like making a 3D effect using flat cut-outs!
  • Embellishing: For elevating this depth perception game even further, consider adding real-life embellishments such as beads, sequins، tapestry threads, or laces onto your artwork after you’re done decoupaging

Always remember – your creativity is the only limit in this art form, so don’t be afraid to experiment!

By following these practices you’ll expertly navigate the exciting journey of ‘How To Decoupage On Wood Furniture.’ Create something unique today.

FAQs About Decoupage On Wood Furniture

Do I need any prior experience or a particular set of skills to decoupage wood furniture?

Not! Decoupage is an easy and fun DIY project that anyone can take up. It only requires patience and creativity.

Is sanding an indispensable step while decoupaging wood furniture?

Yes, sanding the surface makes it smoother for the images or paper cutouts to adhere correctly and enhances the result.

What kinds of pieces can I use to decoupage wood furniture?

Great question! You can use virtually any printed paper – newspaper cutouts, fabric scraps, photos, prints from magazines, even old maps!

How long does it take for the decoupage on wood furniture to dry?

A single layer typically takes about 15-20 minutes to dry. However, it’s best to leave it overnight if you’re using multiple layers or embellishments.

What if I make a mistake while decoupaging? Is there a way to fix it?

Absolutely! The great thing about decoupaging is that mistakes can be easily fixed – gently peel off the paper before the glue dries and start over.


At its heart, Decoupage is a beautiful means to piece together your creativity and personal style into your surroundings.

So whether you wish to rejuvenate a charming antique armoire or create a unique statement chair for your space, learning how to decoupage wood furniture can be an incredibly gratifying adventure.

It empowers you to build bespoke pieces for your home and offers endless opportunities to experiment with different kinds of paper, designs, and effects.

Remember, the beauty and charm of decoupage lie in its simplicity and accessibility. With some knowledge and tools readily available in one‘s artisan toolbox or even around the house, you can completely transform everyday items into creative masterpieces.

So pick up that brush, cut out those brilliant pieces of paper, and apply some glue – let’s bring those artistic dreams into reality one piece of furniture at a time.

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