Why Does My Decoupage Wrinkle? Common Decoupage Issues

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The number one problem most people have with Decoupage is, that their Decoupage ends up with nasty wrinkles or even bubbles. This is understandable frustrating so in this article, I will tell you how to avoid wrinkles in your decoupage, how to get rid of these wrinkles and after you read this article you will know exactly how to avoid the most common Decoupage issues!

So why does my Decoupage wrinkle? The short answer is, there can be a few reasons as to why Decoupage wrinkles. You should use the right kind of glue (Mod Podge is great but not for every Project), you can also avoid wrinkles by laying the paper on the surface first and then applying the glue to the surface, you could iron your paper on the surface if you prep the surface accordingly and you can also use Saran Wrap to flatten your paper before it drys completely.

So as I mentioned above, there are a few things, that you can do to avoid wrinkles. In the following article, I will go over each of these different methods in more detail.

Use the Right Kind of Glue

You should use the right kind of glue to avoid wrinkles. Most craft glues, like Mod Podge, are too thick and don´t allow an even spread easily.

So if you are doing decoupage with very thin paper, like napkins, I would highly recommend a Decoupage glue. These types of glue are especially for Decoupage, so they are a lot thinner and they allow you to easily apply even thin paper to any surface without any or very little wrinles.

It is also a little cheaper than Mod Podge. You can have a look at the Decoupage Glue, that I mostly use by following this link.

Mod Podge is not at all bad though. Don´t think that just because I recommend Decoupage glue here.

Mod Podge is really good for most Decoupage Projects, that you might wanna do. It is easier to come by and great for any project, where you plan on using sturdier paper than Napkin paper.

Put the Paper On the Surface First

This next tip for avoiding wrinkles seems quite obvious at first but a lot of people actually don´t do this right.

If you apply the glue to your surface first and then put your paper on the surface then any wrinkles will be quite hard to get rid of. You can use Saran Wrap to get rid of the wrinkles but more on that later.

So if you put your paper on the surface first before adding the glue will give you a lot more freedom in terms of placement.

Then after you have the paper placed in a way you like, you can finally apply the glue. Start in the middle of the paper and work from there outwards.

Use a very soft brush to apply your glue. By starting in the middle you can flatten any uneven parts with your brush right away.

By working this way you can control the paper and the wrinkles way better than otherwise. But this method only works when you are applying Decoupage on a simple form. When the form of your projects is getting complicated then I would suggest using the next Method.

Using Cling Film to Flatten Your Decoupage

If your project is a little more complex in form then you should use this method do Decoupage your project.

You will need Cling Foil or Saran Wrap for this method. So add some glue to the surface of your project and then carefully place your paper where you want it to go.

Next up use the cling wrap and put it on top of the paper. Then slightly press down on the wrap with your finger and work from the inside out to essentially press away andy uneven parts and wrinkles.

The cling foil will help you to push on your paper without ripping or damaging it in any way. This way you will be able to get rid of any wrinkles or other uneven parts of the paper even on more complicated forms.

Use an Iron to Apply your Paper to the Surface

This final method of applying paper to the surface is ironing it. But this method only works on flat surfaces.

For this method, you will need an Iron for ironing your paper, some baking paper, Decoupage Glue or Mod Podge and your paper.

Apply your glue on the surface first. Carefully spread it as evenly as possible!

Then set it aside to dry for a few hours. Once it is completely dry heat up your iron but don´t heat it up too much. Most of the time it is enough to set it to number one or two.

Then place your paper on the surface and lay the baking paper on top of it. Then finally use the iron and apply the paper to the surface.

Don’t let one spot get too hot or you end up damaging your paper. The backing paper will protect your paper mostly but if it gets too hot then you will still damage your paper underneath if you are not careful.

If you are using this method you will end up with an amazing, wrinkle free Decoupage but it only works on flat surfaces, unfortulnatly.

And you still have to seal your Decoupage after you applied the paper. So use either Mod Podge, Decoupage glue or another Sealer like Varnish, to seal your Decoupage.

How Do You Fix Decoupage Wrinkles?

The only way to truly fix Decoupage wrinkles is to remove the paper from the surface and redo the Decoupage. Remove the paper by soaking a piece of cloth in warm water and wring it out until it is wet but doesn´t drip anymore, then lay it on the Decoupage and cover it with cling foil. After an hour the glue should be white again and you can remove the decoupage from the surface.

Unfortunately, the only way to “fix” Decoupage wrinkles is by redoing the whole thing. Make sure, before you begin removing your Decoupage, that your project is only Sealed with white glue (Craft glue like Mod Podge or Decoupage Glue for example).

If you sealed your project with varnish or liquid epoxy or something similar then this Method will not work!

Use an old piece of cloth, that you don’t need anymore, make it wet with warm water and place it on your decoupage. Then cover the cloth with some cling cloth and use something to apply some constant pressure. You could place some books on top of the cloth.

Then wait for about an hour until the glue has turned white again. Now you can carefully scrape the paper and the glue away with a plastic spatula or something similar. Be careful not to damage the surface underneath the paper.

Once you have removed the decoupage let the project dry and then you can reapply the decoupage. Don´t be discouraged, just remember what you learned the first time around when you made the Decoupage and try to avoid these mistakes.

Does Mod Podge Wrinkle Paper?

No, Mod Podge itself does not wrinkle paper but Mod Podge is quite thick and you have to apply it evenly and enough of it so that you can make sure, that your paper does not wrinkle. So apply Mod Podge with a brush to the surface and the paper and be sure to cover everything.

Mod Podge is not great for thinner paper and you have too use quite a lot of it to make it work properly.

But Mod Podge itself will not create wrinkles. The wrinkles either appear when the glue drys because you didn´t cover the whole surface and it will either loosen where no or not enough glue was applied, creating bubbles on the surface of the paper or the paper will pull itself together while it is drying creating small wrinkles.

Both problems can be avoided by covering the whole surface with glue before applying the paper. You can also add some more glue to the paper surface after it was glued to the surface to seal it and further avoid bubbles or wrinkles.

Why is My Decoupage Sticky?

Decoupage, Mod Podge or any other white crafts glue will get sticky again when it is getting whet. So if the Project is in a very humid area the glue may be getting a little sticky again. So as long as the Decoupage is kept away from any source of water then the glue should not get sticky.

Decoupage glue and Mod Podge as well, are white craft glues, very similar to PVA-Glue. This type of glue is water-based meaning it can be diluted with water and it drys through evaporating the water content in the glue.

But if you apply water to the glue again after it is already dry for long enough (usually more than one hour) then the glue will get sticky again.

So either keep your Decoupage away from water or Seal it in a way, that makes it Water-resistant. You can find a guide on how to make your Decoupage Wateresitant right here.

Why is My Decoupage Bubbling?

Decoupage is either bubbling because the surface was not covered in glue completely leading to parts of the paper not being glued to the surface properly or by using a hairdryer or other means to dry the Decoupage faster. Bubbles can easily be fixed by applying another coat of glue to the surface of the paper or making sure.

A common problem with Decoupage is bubbles that appear after the glue has dried. Don´t worry, you can fix bubbles by simply applying another layer of glue on top of your Decoupage.

There are two reasons why Decopauge is bubbling. One is, that you didn’t cover the surface or the backside of the paper enough before gluing it down. And the other is, that you used some means of speeding up the drying process of your Decoupage, like using a Hairdryer or putting your Project in an oven.

Either way the bubbles are being created because the paper did not stick to the surface of your project well enough.

But don´t worry, Decoupage glue and Mod Podge are both waterbased glues, so you can get rid of these bubbles by either adding another layer of glue on top of the paper to glue the paper to the surface properly, or by adding some water very carefully to the paper and using a brush to press the bubbles down to the surface.

Generally, I would always recommend using the method, where you just add another layer of glue to the Decoupage just because you won´t run into any danger of damaging your paper this way.

I hope this article was helpful to you and if you have any questions then feel free to drop me a comment down below. I will answer your question as soon as possible.

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.

5 thoughts on “Why Does My Decoupage Wrinkle? Common Decoupage Issues”

  1. I thought I had successfully applied tissue to the top of a table using the iron method …it has for the most part been successful …there are several bubble in odd places ….I have attempted re ironing ..which I thought had worked ..still not as I would like ……I have read all your advise , just want to ask, can I now put a layer of glue over the whole table top again , then press it down again using the cling film method ?

    • Hi Carol,
      it´s hard to say if you can properly fix those bubbles without seeing them. I would guess that the glue, that you are using, isn´t as well suited for the iron method. You could try to apply another layer of glue and try to flatten it but there is really no way of telling if that will work properly.

  2. Hi please help . I’ve had perfect flat decoupage using napkins on tiles.Then when dry applied a coat of mod pudge or decoupage glue,that’s when the wrinkles appear . I’m at a loss

    • Hi Jackie,
      I can´t tell you exactly what went wrong. My best guess is that the mod podge either dried unevenly. Did you water the mod podge down? Because that might have caused the decoupage to loosen a little in some areas.
      Tiles tend to have a very smooth surface which can make it hard for the decoupage to dry without “moving”. Meaning every little thing from room temperature to applying the glue unevenly can cause the decoupage to wrinkle if you are unlucky.

  3. Hi Sueann,

    I am sorry to hear that. Did you let the decoupage dry for a day before applying the varnish?
    Or did you apply the decoupage directly on the dresser without roughing up the surface with some sandpaper first? If you try to glue something on varnished wood directly then the glue might not adhere properly.

    I am afraid the only way to properly fix this is to remove the decoupage and then sand the surface slightly before redoing the whole decoupage again.


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