Table Top Decoupage: How to Redecorate a Table's Surface With a Collage - Dengarden - Home and Garden
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Table Top Decoupage: How to Redecorate a Table's Surface With a Collage

A tabletop decoupage collage

A tabletop decoupage collage

Decoupage Mod Podge Table Top

Table decoupage is the perfect way to transform a damaged or boring tabletop. Inexpensive, easy, and a fun way to show off your creativity, a decoupage table makeover is easily accomplished in a few hours and for a few dollars. All you need is a little planning, an old table, some Mod Podge or other decoupage medium, a paintbrush you don't mind getting messy, and whatever paper items you want to decorate with. You may also choose to use paint, stencils, stickers, or an acrylic sealant to ensure sweating mugs or spilled drinks do not damage your new creation.

Table ready to for redecoration

Table ready to for redecoration

How to Prepare a Table for Decoupage

First, you need to prepare your tabletop for painting/decoupage. I redecorated a simple TV dinner style table left at my house by a previous roommate. Almost all furniture comes with a smooth sealant or topcoat that must be sanded down or your Mod Podge and paint will flake off. Use a medium grit sandpaper to scuff up the tabletop's surface until it looses its luster. If the table is no longer shiny, you have removed the topcoat. After sanding, wipe the surface down with a damp cloth to remove grit and wood dust.

Plan the Decoupage

How you decorate your table is up to you, but whatever you do, you must plan. If you have a map, poster, or even newspaper, you may cover the entire surface with one decoupaged sheet. Alternatively, you can create a collage of photos, magazine pictures, scrapbooking materials, or just about anything else. I took a mixed approach and used part of an Art Nouveau -style poster, scrapbooking embellishments, and stencils.

I once heard someone describe collages as "pure composition." They really are. A successful collage isn't just a jumble of photographs - it is planned, balanced, and interesting. If you want to simply throw down a bunch of pictures, it is your table and no one can stop you! However, if you want your re-done table to be an attractive addition to your home décor, take a few minutes to plan where you want each piece placed. After you have applied Mod Podge and placed a piece, it is too late to change your mind!

Sponged black paint with gold

Sponged black paint with gold

The table after one coat of Mod Podge, bubbles still intact.

The table after one coat of Mod Podge, bubbles still intact.

Scrapbooking element added to the table. Note how it tucks under the poster and wraps around the table's edge to give a more organic appearance.

Scrapbooking element added to the table. Note how it tucks under the poster and wraps around the table's edge to give a more organic appearance.

Another scrapbooking element added to the table.

Another scrapbooking element added to the table.

Decorating your Table with Mod Podge

After carefully planning everything, remove all the pieces and get started! While planning, I realized my poster cutout was smaller than the tabletop, so my first step was using a sponge to apply black paint as a border all the way around the table's edge. After that dried, I applied random patches of gold to match the poster's appearance. if your decorative elements completely cover the table's surface, there is no need to paint a border.

To decoupage your table, apply Mod Podge to the tabletop wherever you want to place your first piece. If you are using one big sheet, cover the entire top. If you are making a collage with smaller elements, Mod Podge an area the size of your first piece. Unless you love having messy fingers, apply the Mod Podge with a brush. I prefer inexpensive sponge brushes because bristle brushes tend to shed when used with Mod Podge.

Next, carefully place your piece of paper. Take the time to line it up where you want it because you cannot count on moving it once contact is made with the Mod Podge. To make sure the piece is thoroughly stuck, and at least somewhat flat, I like running a ruler across the piece's surface. As you can see in the picture to the right, I did not do that with this project, which resulted in a large bubble I had to deal with later! If this happens to you, use a pin or needle to poke a hole in the bubble and try flattening it again. You may be left with a crease, but you can at least remove most of the bubble.

After allowing the Mod Podge to dry for as long as you want—I've waited minutes or days, depending on my schedule—apply a second coat of Mod Podge over the entire surface. If, like me, you have additional collage pieces to place over a largest piece, go ahead and stick your smaller pieces to this layer of Mod Podge. Continue this drying, reapplying, and adding decorative elements process for as long as you wish. Whenever you are finished adding pieces, give the whole surface a final coat of Mod Podge.

Using Paint with Decoupage

My Art Nouveau poster already had some faint gold text, so I chose to add a few more stenciled decorative elements. I wanted the fleur-de-lis, swirls, and 'travel' text to match the poster, so I selected an antiqued gold paint. You may want your stencils, drawings, etc. to contrast with background. Whatever type of paint you choose, make sure to stencil correctly. Dab the paint brush or sponge straight up and down instead of making strokes side to side and lift the stencil carefully to avoid smudging the wet paint.

How to Stencil Correctly


Finishing and Sealing the Table Decoupage

After adding all decorative elements, paintings, drawings, stencils, and whatever else you want, you are essentially finished with your table. All that remains is protecting your creation with an (optional) acrylic topcoat. If you plan to actually use the table, I highly recommend taking the time to apply a topcoat. I have used both brush-on and spray-on topcoats and, for projects like this, I prefer spray coats. Mod Podge makes a waterproof acrylic sealer that works wonderfully. Is is available in both matte and gloss finish, is easy to apply, and is reasonably priced. Other, similar products, like Krylon clear coat work as well.

After spraying the top coat, allow the coat to fully cure for 24 hours before using the table.

There you have it—an inexpensive way to redecorate a table and add a personal touch to your décor! Decoupage is perfect for well-worn tables, especially those you can find for a dollar or two at yard sales and thrift stores. The next time you see a cute table and think "if only the top weren't so beat up..." stop that train of thought and start planning your decoupage collage!


Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 20, 2012:

Thank you! Yes, it is a really quick and easy way to dress up a TV tray and make it suitable for use as and end table, or just make it look less like a TV tray. Thanks for sharing!

Tammy from North Carolina on June 19, 2012:

This is very neat and creative. I love the vintage photo you used. Really great idea and I have some tv trays that could use some upcycling. Awesome! Sharing!

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 13, 2012:

Thank you! =)

Karen Lackey from Ohio on June 13, 2012:

Natashalh, you might truly be on of the craftiest people I know! Another great hub!

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 13, 2012:

They are probably gluing the coins or caps and then pouring an acrylic resin on them. At least, that would b my guess, site unseen, because that would give you a flat tabletop. But it's a similar idea, for sure.

Thanks for stopping by!

jellygator from USA on June 12, 2012:

Love it! I've seen this done with coins and bottle caps on restaurant tables, too, I think. Is that the same thing, do you know?

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 11, 2012:

Glad you like it! It should look fantastic on a dresser. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

Marissa from United States on June 11, 2012:

This is a great tutorial! I want to try this with an old dresser for my son's room, to match the other dinosaur décor. Thanks for the idea! :)

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 11, 2012:

Wow, thanks! I really appreciate all the shares, Ttombs. And if you're coming up with projects, Angela, remember you can use decoupage on just about any surface - chairs, dressers, even things like vases!

Angela Brummer from Lincoln, Nebraska on June 11, 2012:

This rocks! I have some things in mind for this project.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on June 11, 2012:

Great ideas! Voted up and shared on pin, twitter, +1 and facebook. :)

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 11, 2012:

Thank you, anusujith, for the complement and the share!

Anoop Aravind A from Nilambur, Kerala, India on June 11, 2012:

What an idea... You are absolutely creative... Voted up... and shared...

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 11, 2012:

Thanks! Until a few months ago when I suddenly remembered its existence, I think I hadn't done anything with Mod Podge since elementary school. It's still fun, though!

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 11, 2012:

Thanks, RTalloni and Angelo52. I'm glad the steps are clear and understandable. I know what I mean, so of course it makes sense to me. It's great to know others can understand it, too. And thanks very much for sharing, Angelo. I really appreciate it!

Angelo52 on June 11, 2012:

Great idea! Your article describes the process so well even I can try it out. Seems a great way to salvage a table or other flat surface that otherwise would have hit the landfill.

Voted up + and shared on Stumble, Facebook, etc.

RTalloni on June 11, 2012:

I was planning a table top redo--now I may re-plan it!

Thanks for this look at your piece and for the decopage tips.

Dianna Mendez on June 10, 2012:

It has been some time since I have worked with mod podge, but it was always a fun project experience whenever I did. Great suggestions for reviving a piece for furniture or décor.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 10, 2012:

Hahahaha. I appreciate the support! You should try it some time. It really isn't that difficult.

But I totally understand if you're not interested. Thanks for stopping by, anyway!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 10, 2012:

Well Natasha, I won't be doing this during this current lifetime but maybe in the next one I'll give it a go. I'm just here to support you so consider yourself supported.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 10, 2012:

Thank you! What you don't see is years of failed, sticky messes leading up to this table. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it and thank you for the complements. I'm the only person who's seen the table in real life, so it's good to know I'm not the only one who likes it.

Sharilee Swaity from Canada on June 10, 2012:

This is beautiful! I love your careful attention to detail and design. What a classy looking piece of furniture!

I could have used this article when I tried Decoupage with my class a couple years ago. We had them each do a personal collage chair of their life and they did really well but I could have used some pointers on how to be better at it! I was learning along with them. Voted up, useful and beautiful. And I definitely want to share this, too. Thanks for sharing.

Natasha (author) from Hawaii on June 10, 2012:

Thank you for stopping by! If you see Mod Podge in the store, you might think you've gone through a time warp. It looks very 70s. It is basically a thick white glue (that looks like it hasn't changed its packaging in 40 years).

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 10, 2012:

What a great way to rejuvenate an old table! This looks like a fun and very creative project, Natasha. I've never heard of Mod Podge before, but it sounds like useful stuff. Thanks for the instructions.