Tips for Decoupaging Paper Napkins Onto Furniture

$25
2 Hours
Easy

Decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture is a popular technique right now, but it takes a little practice. I learned a lot on this project ~ and wanted to share a few tips with you. There are so many pretty napkins out there, you can really add a lot of pizazz to your piece for just a few dollars. I got my napkins at a party supply store.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
Here's the "before" shot of my table.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
I base coated it with American Paint Company's creamy, dreamy not-quite-white color called "Limoges." Then I added a little turquoise and pink around the edges to match the napkins and covered it all with another coat of Limoges.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
After the table was painted, I was ready to decoupage the napkins.
TIP 1: Crumple the napkin. I didn't think I was good enough at decoupaging to apply it completely smooth onto the table. (I was right!) So I decided to embrace the wrinkles right from the start for a weathered vintage look. This also hid the deep creases in the napkin where it was folded inside of the packaging.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
TIP 2: Separate the plain white backing. I'm not 100% sure why you do this, but every online tutorial I consulted recommended this so I did it. I think it helps to make sure your image adheres to the tabletop and does not become separated from the backing later.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
TIP 3: Brush on Mod Podge lightly. Don’t put it on too thick or your napkin will get too wet and tear. It would probably be better to let the Mod Podge set up a bit so it is tacky and not dripping wet when you place your napkin on it, but I’m impatient and can never wait that long. Once all of your images are in place, come back with more Mod Podge and brush it—GENTLY—over the entire surface.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
TIP 4: BE GENTLE! I can not emphasize this tip enough. If you are not gentle, you might end up with a GIANT HOLE in your tabletop like this ...
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
I think I had an air bubble that wasn’t completely smoothed out and when I pushed it with my brush, the napkin ripped. After this happened, I found a tutorial from an Expert Decoupager with another great tip.
TIP 5: Gently pop any air bubbles with a pushpin before brushing on the top coat of Mod Podge. Sounds like good advice to try next time.
But what about the giant hole I had now??? I could not find any tutorials to address this issue so I improvised.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
I did learn something else from the Expert Decoupagers online. You can cut out specific images from the napkins by drawing a line around it with a wet paintbrush, then gently tearing it away. This works better than cutting it out with scissors because the edges are feathery and blend into the rest of the design.
That’s what I did to make a patch for the hole in my tabletop, trying to cut out an area to match up with the hole. I applied it the same way as my original napkins.
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
It worked!
(I did the same thing in a few other spots, but I’m not telling where!)
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
When the patches were dry, I brushed Mod Podge GENTLY!! over the entire tabletop again.
When that dried, I sealed the tabletop with American Paint Company’s new Hard Coat, a low-VOC product that provides a durable finish. I finished the table’s legs with APC Clear Wax.
Here’s my table:
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
tips for decoupaging paper napkins onto furniture, decoupage, painted furniture
I have decoupaged photographs onto furniture before, but this was my first try with fragile paper napkins. I would love to hear other tips from Expert Decoupagers out there! And please check out our All Things New Again Blog for more DIY projects, tutorials and tips. Thank you! ~Courtney
Courtney @ All Things New Again

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Pat Brown
    on Feb 28, 2018

    thank you! I have a napkin furniture project I I will begin soon. What do you think about putting shellac on top of the surface as the final sealer? That's what I was planning on doing~

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2 of 17 comments
  • Sandy
    on Sep 14, 2017

    I do this technique all the time. It's addictive! I have that same paper and it's one of my favorites. I also use wrapping paper, rice paper, newspaper... Lol Good job!

  • DIYctionary
    on Aug 11, 2018

    good job, nice colors, napkins are so fragile but you did very well

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