For some Decoupage projects, like a Coaster or a Flowerpot, you may want to waterproof your Decoupage. Normal Sealers don´t make your Decoupage waterproof but after reading this article you will know exactly what kind of sealer to use and how to use it to make you Decoupage projects waterproof.
So how do you make Decoupage waterproof? The short answer is, use Varnish to seal your Decoupage Project to make it waterproof. Varnish is a Sealer for wood but it can be applied to a lot of different materials. Varnish drys transparent and glossy.
Regular Decoupage glue or Mod Podge will seal your paper after applying it and it will make your paper a little water-resistant (so small drops or a little water won’t hurt it) but these sealers will not make your Decoupage waterproof.
So if you want to make your Decoupage waterproof then you will need another sealer.
Simply glue your paper to the surface and then add either Decoupage glue or Mod Podge on top of it, as you would normally do to make Decoupage.
After everything is dry simply add a Sealer to your decoupage to make it Waterproof. I usually use Gloss Varnish to make Decoupage Waterproof.
My favorite Varnish is from Liquitex (Amazon Link). You can apply it with a fine brush to your Decoupage. Varnish will dry transparent and you can apply multiple layers if you want to. You can also use spray-on varnish if you want to make sure that the varnish is applied very evenly.
Varnish is a sealer for wood but it can be applied to a lot of other materials, such as Terra cotta, stone, metal and more. But it can be a little harder to apply varnish to materials, that are not absorbent. So it might be a little tricky to apply to metal or stone.
I would also highly recommend using the gloss varnish and not matt varnish because matt varnish can lose its translucency after it is applied or if you apply multiple layers. Gloss varnish, on the other hand, will stay transparent even if you are adding several layers.
Just let the varnish dry overnight and your Decoupage project will be waterproof!
There are other Sealers out there, that can waterproof your Decoupage, like special water-resistant sealers for outdoor projects or liquid epoxy but the outdoor sealers are kind of expensive and epoxy is an awesome medium to use but it is kind of difficult to use as well.
You have to mix the two epoxy parts (the epoxy and the hardener) firmly before you can use it and you have to get rid of any bubbles and other air pockets in the mixture before you can apply it.
Then you have to pour it on your project and it has to sit for up to 24 hours before it is dry. So it is kind of hard to apply to round forms.
In the end, you will have a translucent finish on your Decoupage, that you can even sand smooth and polish and it is waterproof.
But if you just want to make your Decoupage Project waterproof then this whole process is a little much and varnish does the same thing but is way easier to apply and also cheaper.
Is Decoupage Water-Resistant?
The short answer is no, regular Decoupage that was not specially sealed is not water-resistant. It can survive a little water well enough but if your Decoupage project is in danger of getting wet regularly then I would recommend sealing it with varnish to really make it waterproof.
Most Decoupage will probably only be sealed wich either Decoupage glue or Mod Podge or another type of white glue or crafts glue but none of these glues will make your Decoupage truly water-resistant.
They will seal your Decoupage well enough so that it can sit in the sun for some time and it can protect your Decoupage from drops of water or a little dirt but it will not make your Project water-resistant.
To truly make your Decoupage water-resistant you will have to seal it with a special Sealer. I would Recommend Varnish but you can also use liquid epoxy, even though it is kind of difficult to use.
Is Mod Podge Waterproof?
No, Mod Podge is not Waterproof. It can take a few drops of water but if you want to make your project truly waterproof, then you need an additional sealer. Depending on your Project I would Recommend Varnish, liquid epoxy or an enamel sealer.
So Mod Podge itself just like most craft glues that are sealer and glue in one, don’t waterproof your project.
Mod Podge can seal your project a little bit to make it hold up a little better against dirt, the sun and a little bit of water. But is you want to make your project waterproof, then you will need an additional sealer.
I would recommend either varnish or an enamel sealer for most projects. These sealers can be easily applied, they are quite cheap when compared to other sealers, and they can protect your project from dirs and water.
You can also use liquid epoxy but epoxy is kind of difficult to use and it can be hard to apply epoxy without having any nasty air pockets or bubbles in it.
Can Decoupage Items be Washed?
There is a dishwasher safe Mod Podge that you can use to make your decoupage dishwasher safe but you should still only wash decoupage with your hands and only after sealing it with varnish or an enamel sealer.
I personally would not recommend washing your decoupage without properly sealing it with either varnish or an enamel sealer.
If you just used Mod Podge or a Decoupage glue for sealing your project, then you should defiantly not wash it in any way, because you will damage your Decoupage.
So seal your project with a proper sealer to make it waterproof and once you have done that, then you can wash it without any problems.
But I would still be a little careful and not put it in the dishwater and just wash it by hand.
Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.
8 thoughts on “How Do You Make Decoupage Waterproof?”
Do you have to wait the recommended 4 weeks cure time before applying a sealer?
I never waited for that long. Everything is usually dry enough after one to two days, depending on how much glue and what kind of glue is used.
After I use mod pudge on fabric (outdoors) can I use varnish to seal table? Thanks
yes, you can use varnish to seal the surface but it will probably only last about a year to two outdoors depending on where you live and where the table is. If you want the table to be permanently protected from the elements then you have to seal it with something that holds up better. I would suggest using epoxy resin that does not yellow in the sun. But epoxy resin is hard to apply and it can be tricky to get right if you never used it before.
I used clear varnish to seal a raised garden bed that I decorated with some paper and mod podge and it lasted around two years in the sun before it finally succumbed to the rain.
are varnishes food safe? Looking to seal mugs. So need dishwasher safe and food safe.
even though varnishes will dispel water it will not make decoupage dishwasher safe. You won´t be able to seal the decoupage with varnish to make it dishwasher safe. There is one way to make something dishwasher safe (that I know of) and that is using liquid epoxy resin to seal the finished product. But the epoxy has to be food proof which makes it quite expensive and working with epoxy in such a manner is very annoying.
Hi Valentin, I so appreciate you sharing your knowledge of your craft. It is extremely helpful to many like myself. Thanks Again.
thank you. Glad I could help!