How to Decoupage Ink Jet Paper to Wood

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Decoupage, from the French for "cut out", is an ancient method of decorating items. The method comes to us from China and it is done by cutting out pictures from paper and gluing them to a surface, then applying lacquer. However, just because decoupage is an old technique does not mean it is immune to modern updates. Decoupage has gained popularity in recent years. With the advent of online image libraries and color printers, the sky is the limit when it comes to the style of your decoupage project. However, decoupaging inkjet printouts to wood requires some special consideration.

Things You'll Need

  • Water-based wood stain
  • Brush
  • Rags
  • 400-grit sandpaper
  • Inkjet printouts
  • X-acto knife
  • Elmer's Glue-all white glue
  • 3M Super 77 spray adhesive
  • Workable spray fixative
  • Spray-able water-based polyurethane

Stain your wood surface if any wood will show through the decoupage. Use a water-based stain, as oil-based stains can prevent glue from sticking. Brush on the stain, wait a few minutes, then wipe with a rag. Repeat until desired stain color is achieved.

Once the stain is dry, sand the entire surface with 400-grit sandpaper to smooth any wood grain that popped due to the stain.

Cut out the pictures from your inkjet printouts. Hold the knife at a slight angle away from the center of the picture as you cut. This will create a beveled edge and prevent the paper color from being visible around your picture.

Place the paper face down on a clean surface, and apply a thin layer of glue to the back. You can brush on Elmer's Glue-all, or you can spray on something like 3M Super 77. This type of glue will tack up quickly, essentially making your picture into a decal.

Carefully place your picture on the wood surface. Moving the picture after it has been placed isn't a good idea. You could leave glue residue where you don't want it, and if you use the Super 77, you may not be able to remove it without tearing the paper.

Spray the inkjet printouts you've glued on with workable spray fixative before gluing on another layer, especially if you are using the Elmer's glue. Brushing anything wet over the inkjet printouts could cause the ink to run, but the fixative will prevent this.

After all your pictures are glued on, spray the project with a water-based polyurethane. Use the spray kind, as brushing on lacquer could cause your ink to smear. Spray several light layers to avoid saturating your paper.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use spray-able products like Super 77, workable fixative and water-based polyurethane where there is adequate ventilation and nothing can be harmed by over-spray.

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