How to Decoupage a Tabletop

Updated November 21, 2016

An old table and a limited budget may seem like a recipe for dated decor, but it's really an opportunity to exercise your creativity. Instead of living with a scratched or faded table, study your table with a judicious eye and imagine what it could look like with a découpage facelift. Découpage medium is thick and clear, sealing your artwork against moisture damage and fading. As long as the lines of the table are classic, you can modernise your piece and enjoy it for years to come.

Prepare your table to be decoupaged. Wash the top of your table with warm, soapy water. Wipe it down again with a damp dish cloth and dry it with a lint-free towel. This eliminates any dust and dirt that may prevent your découpage materials from sticking to the table.

Create a design with your paper scraps on the table top. You may simply tear the paper materials into pieces and arrange them abstractly or create a faux mosaic with pieces cut to fit like a puzzle. Alternatively, you can arrange the book pages or playing cards in rows or spirals, or overlap them.

Remove your pieces from the table when you find a design you like.

Brush the top of the table with découpage medium and press your paper pieces into the medium in your preferred pattern. Avoid mistakes by working on only a small section of the table at a time.

Apply a second layer of découpage medium over the paper with wide strokes once the entire pattern is laid out. The coating must be even and thin.

Allow the découpage medium to dry for about 24 hours and apply a second coat. Let the table cure for 48 hours before using.


If you plan to put your table outdoors, seal the table with polyurethane instead of a second coat of découpage. Allow the first coat of sealer to dry for two hours, then apply two more coats the same way and let it cure overnight.

Things You'll Need

  • Table
  • Mild dish soap
  • Water
  • Dish cloth
  • Lint-free towel
  • Various paper forms, including tissue, wrapping, scrapbooking and book pages
  • Découpage medium
  • Sponge brushes
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