Making decoupage wood signs is SO easy, even the kids can join in the fun! This beginner tutorial walks through all the steps you need to know. The best part is that you can personalize your sign to fit any occasion or gift recipient.
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A Note on Decoupage for Beginners
Years ago, the very word “Mod Podge” intimidated me because I had no idea what to do with it. Now, I’m obsessed with the stuff!
I love nothing more than introducing my friends and followers to all the DIY decoupage projects you can make, especially as a beginner crafter. This wooden sign craft is no exception.
In it, you’ll find all the tips and techniques you need for a wide variety of decoupage projects. You may also want to visit my photo transfer to wood tutorial for a great gift idea using a slightly different technique.
Making a DIY Decoupage Sign on Wood
My twin boys and I designed our wooden “Dad” sign in honor of Father’s Day. It now hangs proudly over my hubby’s workbench so he can think of his little “woodworkers” every time he starts a new DIY project.
- Wooden plaque
- Craft letters
- Wood stain or paint
- Scrapbook paper
- Mod Podge
- Foam or bristle brush
- Wood glue
- Optional: Clear acrylic sealer
1. Stain or paint the wood
To get started, you’ll want to add a stain or paint to your sign (assuming it’s unfinished wood). I chose to stain my pallet sign for a rustic effect.
This stain worked well for this project. It has a subtle color that complemented the rest of our design.
To apply the stain, use an old t-shirt or rag to wipe the stain on in sections. Then, immediately wipe off any excess using a separate rag. Let the stain dry for 24-48 hours before applying the decoupage wooden letters.
In the photo below, you’ll notice the difference between the stained (top) and unstained (bottom) portions of my wood plaque. Hmm…it reminds me of my farmer’s tan in late summer.
2. Cut paper and decoupage onto wood letters
Next, trace the outline of your craft letters onto scrapbook paper, and cut the shapes out using scissors or a detail knife like an X-acto. We chose a combination of patterned paper with images of grilling and workshop tools, which fit my husband perfectly.
You can buy scrapbook paper packs at craft stores when they go on sale. Then, you’ll have a readily available supply or coordinating patterns for decoupage projects.
Once you have your shapes ready, brush a generous amount of Mod Podge onto the wooden letters and attach your paper cutouts.
You can use a brayer to smooth out the paper onto the wood letters, but for a project of this size, you may not find it necessary.
(For those of you scratching your heads, a brayer is like a mini rolling pin and is often used to smooth the paper onto larger surface areas and remove air bubbles when decoupaging.)
After you secure the paper to the wood letters, let the glue dry 20-30 minutes. Then, apply a final coat of Mod Podge on top of the letters. This top coat helps seal the letters and protect them from regular wear and tear.
Important: To prevent the paper from ripping, do not smooth or spread the Mod Podge glue with your bare hands.
Don’t worry if the glue seems slightly white…it will dry clear. I pinky promise!
3. Apply clear acrylic sealer (optional)
In most of my decoupage wood projects, I like to apply a clear sealer for extra shine and durability. I took my letters outside and sprayed them with two coats of sealer before attaching them to the wooden background.
4. Attach letters to the wood plaque
The last step is to attach the letters to your wood plaque. I highly recommend using strong wood glue and NOT regular hot glue.
Let the glue dry overnight before hanging.
If you don’t believe me about the hot glue, let’s just say that “a friend” tried using it on an outdoor sign once…and it didn’t turn out so well for her!
More Decoupage on Wood Ideas
I love the way this DIY sign turned out, but I’m even more excited about the possibilities of making unique decoupage wood signs for every holiday!
How about these ideas, for starters?
- Art in a nursery or child’s room
- Dorm signs
- Holiday mantel sign
- “Open/closed for business” sign
- Kitchen sign
- Game room signs
- Beach/coastal sign with added shells
- She Shed “Keep Out” sign (hee hee)
Should I go on? Because I can!
Since you can make decoupage wood signs for literally any occasion, try mixing and matching scrapbook paper or different wood backgrounds to customize your look.
Pin this for later!
How to Make a Decoupage Wood Sign
- To begin, add a stain or paint to your sign (assuming it’s unfinished wood). To apply the stain, simply use an old t-shirt or rag to wipe the stain on in sections. Then, immediately wipe off any excess using a separate rag.
- Let the stain dry 24-48 hours before applying the decoupage wooden letters.
- Trace the outline of your wooden letters onto scrapbook paper, and cut the shapes out using scissors or a detail knife like an X-acto.
- Once you have your shapes ready, brush a generous amount of Mod Podge onto the wooden letters and attach your paper cut-outs.
- After you secure the paper to the wood letters, let the glue dry 20-30 minutes.
- Apply a final coat of Mod Podge on top of the letters.
- Optional: Apply a coat of acrylic sealer for extra shine and durability.
I hope you have fun making your very own DIY decoupage wood signs. Don’t forget I have plenty of other decoupage projects to explore!
Leave a comment if you have any questions as you get started.