14 Tips to Decoupaging Furniture

A decoupaged box.

If you are interested in upcycling or have old furniture you'd like to refinish, consider decoupage.

Decoupage comes from the French word decoupe, which means "to cut out." It is considered the art and craft of decorating objects with paper cut-outs. This technique is perfect for those who are interested in being creative and want a unique piece of furniture, but are worried that their painting and drawing skills are not up to par.

1. Choose Your Object Well

Since decoupage involves gluing cut-out pieces of paper and pasting them onto surfaces, the best objects for your will have flat sides. Think boxes, dressers, tables, frames, cans, and jars.

2. Prepare Your Surface

You should start your project with a clean and smooth surface. Lightly sand to remove any shiny or rough finish. Then wash with a damp cloth to remove any dirt and dust.

3. Paint Your Surface

If you want a background color on your object, you should consider painting it. Prime your piece if necessary, then paint with a matte paint. Allow the paint to fully dry and cure before decoupaging.

You can also decoupage already painted or unfinished furniture. Just make sure the piece is clean and dust-free.

4. Choose Your Paper

Choosing the paper you will use for your project is the best part. There are numerous types and styles of crafting papers available. Consider the theme and look you are going for when choosing papers. It also helps to have a color scheme to work within. You may also want to consider using lightweight fabric or lace. Both can be used to decoupage with great success.

5. Cut Your Paper

You'll want extremely sharp scissors and a lot of patience for this step. Carefully cut around each paper object you are using. The sharper your cutting edges, the more crisp and realistic your design will be.

6. Arrange Your Design

Using the paper pieces you cut out, arrange them in a design you see fit. Spend time moving the pieces around until what you see looks just right.

You can also search “decoupage projects” on the internet for a variety of design ideas.

7. Decoupage Your Design

Using a glue made specifically for decoupaging, start gluing your pieces to your object one at a time. Apply the glue to the object's surface. Place your paper cut-out on top of the glue. Then lightly go over the paper with another coat of glue.

If the paper is on the thick end, you can use more glue. If the paper is thin, use as little glue as possible or you risk tearing the paper.

The use of a sponge brush is usually the best option for applying decoupage glue. Make sure to use several lighter coats as opposed to one heavy coat. A heavy coat of glue will lead to streaking and lumps.

8. Smooth Out Any Imperfections

You can use a credit card, or other straight edge tool, to gently smooth out any wrinkles in your paper. If there are stubborn bubbles, use a push pin or needle to pop the bubble and then smooth out the paper. Apply more decoupage glue if necessary.

9. Wait for Your Piece to Dry

Following the instructions on your decoupage glue, wait for the piece to dry. It's usually best to wait a full day to give all of the paper a chance to thoroughly cure.

10. Clean Your Edges

If you are decoupaging an object that has straight or square edges, you may be left with some overlapping or overhanging paper. You can trim this excess paper with an extremely sharp craft knife. Just make sure to cut slowly and carefully, or the paper may chip or tear.

11. Touch Up Your Piece

If there are any torn edges or other imperfections, you can touch those up by hand. Use a marker to fill in any outlines or areas that need a little touching up.

12. Finish Your Piece With a Top Coat

When you've allowed the decoupage glue to completely dry, you can finish your entire piece with a top or finish coat. A top coat helps to seal in the paper and protect your piece from any damage. Make sure you use a finish coat made specifically for decoupaging.

13. Consider Additional Protection

If your decoupaged piece is a table or item that will get regular use, consider topping it with a piece of glass. The glass with help to keep your piece clean and will prevent excessive wear and tear.

14. Avoid Sunlight

Keep your decoupaged piece out of direct sunlight. Sunlight will lead to the fading of the paint and paper on your piece.

If you follow the above 14 steps, you'll have a beautiful piece that will last many years.