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Iron On Decoupage



Iron On decoupage is an alternative to the traditional decoupage method. Many people prefer it because you are less likely to get wrinkles in your finish.  


Products needed:

  • Decoupage paper
  • Quality water-based varnish (I use Wise Owl varnish)
  • A quality paint brush
  • An iron (A quilting iron can help get into small spaces)
  • Parchment paper
  • A sanding block and/or Exacto knife



Prepare your surface by insuring its clean and free of any dirt, wax and/or oils (See: HOW TO PREP FURNITURE for more information on this topic). Once the surface is cleaned and dry, paint with a coat of white paint or primer, and let dry.


Sizing your paper

Cut your decoupage paper to remove most of the excess, as this will make it easier to handle. Give yourself a margin for error by leaving at least a 1-inch overhang on each side. Don’t worry about the extra paper; you will be able to trim any excess after your decoupage has dried.


Using your paint brush, begin applying varnish on the surface you’re going to decoupage. You want to apply three layers of varnish, letting each layer dry prior to putting on the next. 


Applying your paper

Once all the layers of varnish are dried, lay your decoupage paper down on the varnished area. Turn on your iron and let it warm up but be sure to pay attention to the iron’s heat — if the iron is too hot, it can scorch your paper or overheat your varnish. Your parchment paper will act as a protective layer between the iron and your decoupage paper.


Lay your parchment paper down and run your iron over the parchment paper. You want to iron each area until your piece is warm to the touch. The heat of the iron will reactivate the varnish underneath your paper and cause it to adhere to the surface of your piece.  


Another layer of varnish

Once your paper is completely adhered, brush your varnish over the top of your paper. Your paper will wrinkle a bit but don’t panic. Once the paper dries, it will shrink and most of the small wrinkles will go away.


You’ll want to inspect your edges. Any lifted edges will need more varnish underneath. After adding a little more product, rub edges down until they adhere.  



Use a sanding block to trim the excess decoupage paper. The lowest grit you should use is 220 — anything lower may actually tear your edges. Use your sanding block along the edges and be sure to sand in only one direction — down and away from your decoupaged area. If you sand in multiple directions, you can pull and tear your adhered sheet.  


If you are decoupaging an area that has an insert, use your Exacto knife around the edges of the decoupaged area.  

Now you can enjoy your creation. If you are decoupaging a table top or other high traffic area, lay down an extra layer of sealant for added protection.