Decoupage Equipment

The materials needed for decoupage are inexpensive and readily available from arts and crafts stores. The basic items are listed here.

  • Acrylic paint: comes in a range of colours. Ideal for applying colour highlights, acrylic paint can be used full strength or diluted with water or an acrylic medium. Mixing with an acrylic medium gives a strong colour.
  • Cuttings: Images for decoupage can be gleaned from many sources such as wrapping paper, prints, newspaper, greetings cards and catalogues. They can he photocopied in black and white and colour washes in your own choice of colours, or colour copied to make endless duplicates for a frieze or set of mats. Start a collection of decoupage images, motifs and pictures that catch your eye so you will always have a store of cuttings from which to choose.
  • Emulsion (latex) paint: this comes in a wide variety of colours and dries quickly. Ranges of traditional paints are manufactured in subtle colours that dry to a chalky finish similar to the old-fashioned casein or milk paints. They need sealing with a coat of acrylic varnish before the next coat is applied.
  • Glues: paper glue is golden-coloured liquid glue that comes in a bottle. It is ideal for paper projects, although it may be slower to dry than other glues. PVA glue is white glue that dries quickly to a clear finish. It can he used full strength or diluted as required. It can also be diluted to use as a sealer on finished decoupage projects. Wood glue may be required for some projects involving woodwork. It is a stronger form of PVA glue. Wallpaper paste is easy to mix up and use for larger projects, but it is not as strong as PVA glue. Jar contains fungicide, which prevents mould. It has a slippery feel, ideal for moving detailed motifs into position.
  • Masking tape: used for screening areas before painting and also for temporarily fixing the motifs while arranging them. Spray adhesive: gives a light, even application of glue. Always work in a well-ventilated area when using this type of glue.
  • Varnishes: these sites available as oil-based polyurethane or water-based acrylic varnishes. Both types are available in gloss, satin (mid-sheen) or mart finishes. Acrylic varnish has the advantage of not yellowing with age. Shellac dries to a transparent finish. It-is less hardwearing than varnish and tends to be used between layers rather than as a finishing sealer.
  • White spirit (paint thinner): a clear solvent used for diluting oil-based paints, washing brushes and cleaning objects to the decoupage.
  • Wood filler: necessary for filling any holes in furniture or other wooden items before applying the decoupage motifs. Sand down the dried filler to ensure a smooth surface.


Apart from a pair of small, sharp scissors and a selection of paintbrushes in different sizes, there are very few pieces of equipment that are needed for decoupage projects, which makes it the ideal craft for beginners.

  • Artist’s paintbrushes: used for hand-tinting prints and adding intricate decoration to a project.
  • Craft knife: some people prefer to use this instead of a pair of scissors and it is particularly good for cutting out intricate patterns. The blades are extremely sharp; they should always be used with a cutting mat so that the knife does not slip or damage your work surface. Replace the blade regularly so that it remains sharp and gives you a good, clean outline.
  • Household paintbrushes: used for painting basecoats and applying varnishes. You can buy specialist varnishing brushes, although household ones are perfectly adequate. Always ensure a different brush is used for the varnish and the paintwork, otherwise the varnish will have flecks of paint init. Also, buy the best-quality paintbrush you can or the work may be spoilt by loose hairs caught in the varnish. Clean brushes immediately after use; clean them in water if the paint or varnish is water-based or in white spirit if the paint or varnish is oil-based.
  • Metal rulers (straightedges): essential if you are cutting along a straight edge with a scalpel (craft knife) because the blade will make nicks in a plastic ruler and then the line will not be straight. Metal rulers are also useful for cutting paper when you want a softer edge than can be made by scissors. A metal-1or plastic ruler can be used for measuring and designing projects.
  • Pair of compasses: sometimes needed for designing projects.
  • Pencil and paper: needed for planning designs and marking the positions of cut-outs.
  • Photocopier: access is also very useful because you may need to make large numbers of copies.
  • Sandpaper: comes in various grades from fine to coarse. Use a fine-grade paper for rubbing down between coats of paint and use a coarser paper for preparing surfaces before beginning your decoupage.
  • Scissors: a small, sharp pair is needed to cut around intricate motifs and a pair of larger ones for cutting out templates and larger pieces of paper and card (cardboard).
  • Shellac: this dries to a transparent finish. It is less hardwearing than varnish and tends to be used between layers rather than as a finishing sealer.
  • Soft cloths: useful for rubbing down images and removing excess glue from the surface. Kitchen paper and soft cloths are as good.
  • Stencil paintbrushes: used when a decoupage project also involves using stencilled images.
  • Tweezers: useful for picking up very delicate cut-outs, which may get damaged in your fingers.