10 Essential Tips to Decoupage on Wood

If you want to bring new life to your old wood, discover the ancient craft of decoupage on wood.

You don’t have to be a professional artist to create exceptional art. When you apply decoupage on wood, the pasted decorative designs can turn even the simplest wooden box into a piece of modern art. All it takes is the right tools and the correct steps to properly affix decorative paper or fabric to almost any object.

When applying decoupage on wood, there are many techniques that will impact the outcome of your new design. Part of the allure of decoupage is the ability to use art from existing materials and products that have lost their usefulness. Using photos and personal items, you can give bring sentimental value to your project. There are many ways to approach the art of decoupage on wood, but there are some basic steps that can make a big difference in the outcome of your finished project.

10. Tools of the trade.

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Cutting clean edges is important in decoupage, so make sure you have a sharp pair of small scissors. You will also need a utility knife with a sharp blade to make precise, delicate cuts without creating any tears in the materials. A wet sponge is helpful in cleaning up excess adhesive on the edges. Sandpaper can be used for many things, including sanding varnish applications and removing layers. Steel wool is used to lightly buff a varnished surface before applying the design. Foam brushes are ideal tools for applying any adhesive or decoupage medium. You will also want to have a tool to smooth out wrinkles when drying, such as a wooden Popsicle stick or a brayer, which is a small hand-roller traditionally used in printing.

9. Compile materials.

In decoupage, you can apply many types of materials. Paper of almost any kind can be used and the specific type should be determined by the final outcome and purpose of the project. When choosing designs, consider everyday sources such as decorative napkins, greeting cards, wrapping paper and magazines. Decoupage paper kits usually come with lightweight and thin designs that can be easily applied. Tissue paper is even thinner, leaving almost no defining edges and raised surfaces. It appears more like a painting.

For projects that are intended to have raised surfaces for 3D appearances, there is a vast selection of various tints and designs in cardstock. It can be advantageous to apply a thicker paper to large surfaces since there are less chances of wrinkles. If you are using thick paper, let your paper soak in water until it is saturated and malleable. Keeping your own hands wet will help prevent tearing as you remove the paper and set it in its proper place. For a personal touch, use photos and even drawings in decoupage. Make copies of an image if you want to keep the original intact.

A light fabric can be the perfect material for decoupage on wood because a thin fabric will absorb the decoupage and a protective finish will seal the product from wear. When trying to smooth out the wrinkles, it helps to iron the fabric before decoupage.

8. Appealing to the right adhesive.

Before you begin, find the proper decoupage adhesive. The right adhesive will prolong the life of the item your decoupage. There are various types of adhesive that can be used successfully in this craft. Decoupage glue can be a glue, varnish and sealer. PVA glue can be used on most surfaces and it is clear when it dries. PVA glue will also provide protection against melting or chipping, but it is not resistant to water. Spray glue also dries quickly and clear. It is also easy to apply.  Wallpaper paste can also be used for large surface areas. In decoupage on wood, most projects are finally sealed with a varnish. Resorcinol wood glue works well on wood products that are going to be indoor or outdoor. This glue takes many hours to set, but is resilient and waterproof, with a powerful bond.

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