Wednesday, 27 March 2013

6 Steps || How To Decoupage Furniture

I recently shared some tips for decoupage at the Meet The Blogger conference and I was amazed at how well they went down. I've had several emails now from people trying out the technique for the first time which is lovely but also some from people who try decoupage and end up with air bubbles. I struggled with decoupage to start with, I used to get wrinkles and air bubbles popping up everywhere - it is so frustrating when that happens. Eventually, I developed my own way of doing it which completely minimised the air bubbles and wrinkles. 

At the furniture painting workshops I teach, I sometimes demonstrate this technique if there is time, but I thought it would be nice to let you all know my best tips on here. I hope you find them helpful if this is something you want to try yourself. I know that me writing out instructions on here is not the same as watching me demonstrate it in front of you, but since I'm not ready for video yet, this will have to do. Please leave a comment if you have a question or if something is unclear and I'll get back to you. 

Decoupage Table using Sophia Victoria Joy Union Jack Paper
Decoupage Table using Sophia Victoria Joy Union Jack Paper

What You Will Need
  • PVA Glue
  • Water
  • Something to apply decoupage to (start small)
  • Paper - I like to use wrapping paper
  • Several paint brushes (all bone dry)
  • Clean cloths

Step 1 :: Start with a smooth, dry and clean surface

An uneven or dirty surface is pretty much a recipe for disaster if you want to decoupage. If the surface has previously had decoupage applied, make sure this is completely removed before you start. If the surface becomes damp while you are cleaning it, leave it to dry out completely before starting. 

Step 2 :: Use a PVA + water blend @ 50:50

There are lots of "decoupage mediums" available to buy. I personally do not feel they are worth the money when you can simply buy PVA glue from any supermarket and mix it with water. Use a plastic spoon or something similar to combine the PVA and water so you get a good smooth consistency. Mixing in a jam jar is useful because you can simply put the lid on afterwards and keep it for other projects.

Step 3 :: Apply the medium to the surface, then layer on the paper

So, you brush the medium lightly over the surface and then directly apply the paper you have chosen to that.  Make sense? As soon as it is applied, brush over the top with a clean, dry brush to smooth out any wrinkles. The thinner the paper, the easier it generally is to apply. Wallpaper is super stylish, but it is really thick so maybe try out some pretty wrapping paper for your first few attempts. I personally love Sophia Victoria Joy's range of wrapping paper, especially the Union Jack. For me, it is the perfect thickness for decoupage, thin, but robust enough to take the medium.

Step 4 :: Sit tight and/or do something else

Now is the time to leave it alone. Just leave it alone, no prodding or poking. It needs to dry so leave it a good 30-45 minutes. 

Step 5 :: Apply a thin layer of medium on top of the paper

Using a small amount of medium, brush over the top of the paper as evenly as possible. If it starts to bubble up you are probably using too much medium. You should have a vaguely white covering across the paper. And, once you have a thin layer applied, step away. 

Step 6 :: Repeat, then repeat again

Repeat step 5 around 8-10 times to create a really durable and hard decoupage surface. Each time you apply the medium, be sure to leave it enough time to dry before the next coat. 


  1. Wow, that is detailed. Thank you so much, Louisa! I wanted to decoupage a large wardrobe with my mum but we didn't dare to :-) I believe we have no excuse now anymore, right? Happy Easter, MPIC!

    1. Hi Gudy!
      How are you? How was Qatar you little jet-setter! Decoupage is definitely one of those things that is easier with practice, maybe start with something small to practise on before you go for the wardrobe? Happy happy easter MPIC x x

  2. At MTB I did take notes but feared I missed some things. I am so happy you wrote a post with the details. Thank you! Karen

  3. At MTB I did take notes but feared I missed some things. I am so happy you wrote a post with the details. Thank you! Karen

    1. Hi Karen, you're so welcome. Let me know how you get on! x

  4. (Oh dear,I just wrote a comment and lost it, sorry if it shows up twice!)

    At your workshop at MTB, I took loads of notes but feared I missed something. I am so happy you wrote a post about it! Thank you :) Karen

  5. Ok so I have some a4 printable decoupage paper, I was just wondering how I put pictures on etc and if it is too thick...but now I see you can use wrapping paper..I think I may try that instead! Thank you for such a detailed post. xxx

    1. Hi Chloe - yes I love to use wrapping paper but try and get the slightly thicker stuff not the really thin kind. X

  6. Great instructions, can you tell me whether it's possible to decoupage with this technique straight on to a varnished wood please?

  7. Hi, Please can u tell me; How long inbetween the Final 8/10 Coats of PVA 50:50.
    Thanku in Advance :)

  8. Hi there,
    Please can you tell me how long I need to Leave Inbetween each Coat of PVA 50:50 when doing the 6 Final Coats?
    Thanks in Advance Cassi

  9. Hi Cassi, I'd wait at least until it's completely dry - probably 20-30 minutes but it depends on room temperature etc.

  10. The union jack paper compliments this so well! It looks brilliant, thanks for the step by step tutorial!