How to Decoupage a Wood Table

Updated February 21, 2017

Old wooden furniture can easily be refinished with a standard stain, but if you're looking for something a bit different, try decoupaging your wooden furniture. You can use magazine cutouts or phrases printed on paper that express who you are, or try scanned and printed family photos for a truly personalised coffee table or end table.

Sand the entire table using a fine-grit paper to remove any old finishes or shellacs.

Rub the table down with a soft cloth to brush away all of the sanding dust and loose particles.

Paint the table the colour of your choice using wood paint. White is a good option if you are using very colourful pictures or text. Allow the table to dry completely overnight.

Arrange the items to be decoupaged on the table until you are happy with how they look. Do not be afraid to overlap, as this gives the table a professional, dimensional look. Hang items that you want to place on vertical surfaces carefully with sticky tack. Trim away any bothersome areas with scissors.

Take a picture of the arrangement so that you do not forget where everything goes. Remove all of the items and take off any pieces of sticky tack.

Pick up the first item to be decoupaged. Choose a bottommost piece if you have designed a layered arrangement. Turn the item over so that the back is facing you and it is laying in your non-dominant palm. Dip a sponge brush into the découpage with your dominant hand and apply a thin, even coat onto the back of the item.

Lay the item slowly and carefully into place, from top to bottom, avoiding any wrinkles. Smooth the edges with your fingertips.

Rest your fingertips lightly on the centre of the item. Use the brush to apply découpage from the inside of the item to the table around the edges of the item in even strokes to affix the edges to the table. Remove your fingers and brush découpage thinly and evenly over the entire item so that it is completely sealed. Place the rest of the pieces in this manner. Do not worry about drying each piece before layering; découpage dries clear, and tacky lower pieces will help hold upper pieces in place.

Allow the table to dry overnight.

Spray the table in a well-ventilated area with varnish to finish.


If you are using pictures or text printed from an ink jet printer, make sure that they are completely dry before applying découpage, or the ink will bleed. You may wish to wear a disposable mask when spraying the varnish.

Things You'll Need

  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Soft cloths
  • Wood paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper items to be decoupaged
  • Instant camera or camera cell phone
  • Scissors
  • Sticky tack
  • Foam craft brush
  • Spray varnish
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About the Author

Jourdan Townsend has been writing since childhood. Her articles appear in a collection of student works at the University of Oklahoma as well as in the school's "Honors College Journal." Townsend also composes poetry, some of which can be found in an edition of the "Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans." Townsend holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.