Houseware Crafts, Tips and Resources, Tutorials, Uncategorized

My Secret for Easy, Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects

Easy Wrinkle Free Mod PodgeI am not one to pronounce that I have the BEST way of doing anything.

You could call it nice, Midwestern humility or you could (more accurately) call it lack of confidence.

I just feel like the second you say “I have the best way” of doing something the natural next step is for someone to say “there is a better way.”

But despite that,  when Christopher asked me how I avoid wrinkles in my Mod Podge projects I thought to myself “I have the BEST way!”

I didn’t invent this and it’s not really earth-shattering or anything but I don’t see it mentioned very often.  (Also when, long ago, I included it in the steps of a tutorial people kinda freaked on me so I thought perhaps I was just making things more difficult.)  But I’ve been doing this for years and years and it works really well for me every time.

For the purposes of this tutorial I’m just going to make one of my 6×9 patent signs.

Here are the basics of what I usedPerfect Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Technique

  • Wood
  • Matte Mod Podge (in a squeeze bottle – explanation below)
  • Laser Print Out of my graphic
  • Roller tool (totally optional)
  • Foam Brush
  • Paper towels

and what is my big secret!?The secret to wrinkle free Mod Podge projects

a bowl of water.

Yeah, I wish it was a more exciting reveal too but what can I say?  It works!

OK to lay some basics out.

Printing: For this to work you must have a laser (or toner based) print. Ink jet prints wont work. I have a laser printer at home and for larger print jobs I go to Staples or Kinkos.

Paper: For most of my work I use Staples Brand Laser Paper, bright white 28lb. But I have also used just plain copy/print paper and all kinds of commercially printed paper like scrap book paper, wrapping paper etc without any problems.

The only paper that hasn’t worked? Tissue paper (too thin) and cardstock (too thick).

Matte Mod Podge: This is the formula I use to stick things down.  There are a lot of different Mod Podge formulas and I use may of them but I almost always start with Matte

Squeeze Bottle. I do a lot of Mod Podging. I mean A LOT. Every day a lot. So, I find it’s easier to just pour the Mod Podge into a squeeze bottle. It’s quick, simple, neat and I can control how much Mod Podge I use and I waste a lot less. (side note, I lost the cap to the squeeze bottle several years ago and it doesn’t seem to make any difference!)

Water: Soaking the paper in a shallow bowl of water for just a few seconds lets the fibers of the paper relax a bit which makes it much easier to smooth into place.

So, here what I do and the order I do it in for all my Mod Podge Projects.

1) Squeeze out the Mod Podge onto the surface of the woodEasy Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects

2) Drop the image into the water.avoid wrinkles in Mod Podge Projects

3) Spread the Mod Podge around in an even layer.Easy way to avoid wrinkles with Mod Podge

4) I pull the paper out of the water and (sorry I couldn’t take a picture of this) holding the paper in my left hand I use my right index and middle finger to gently remove any excess water. Just a couple of swipes.

5) I then lay the paper down on the wood and smooth out with my fingers. There is also plenty of slide-ability at this point so I can move the image around until I get it where I want it.

6) Once the paper is in place I use the roller to get rid of any air pockets.avoiding wrinkles in Mod Podge

The roller is a very recent addition to my arsenal and I only use it for larger items like this. For years I just used my fingers and that’s all I use on things like my coasters.

7) I then use a small section of a paper towel to lightly wipe away any excess water or Mod Podge.

8) Once the whole thing is thoroughly dry I go back in and trim away any excess paper and apply whatever sealing coat I’m using (Hard Coat Mod Podge, Gloss Mod Podge etc).

Soaking Time: I let the paper soak just as long as it takes me to spread the Mod Podge around – so maybe 10-20 seconds depending on the size of what I’m doing.

I’ve seen advice to let the paper soak long enough that it curls up and then uncurls. I find that makes it more prone to tearing – esp if you’re working with basic printer paper.

Sometimes my paper does curl up a bit but it I just smooth it out when I apply it to the wood.


The only downside that I’ve found with this method is that as the paper relaxes it sometimes expands a little bit. That’s only a problem if I’m working on an inner surface (like a tray or the inside bottom of a box) and I have to be super precise.

Aaaaand……. that is my big secret!  Soak the paper in water for a few seconds.  It may take a few trys before you get the method down but I would say it works and works beautifully for me about 99% of the time.

I hope that’s helpful to you when next you Mod Podge.  If you have any questions fire away and I’ll do my best to answer.


13 thoughts on “My Secret for Easy, Wrinkle Free Mod Podge Projects”

  1. ooh, you let out the secret! I have done that before. I have a roller and I have a smaller scraper tool which is really for non-stick pans but works great on small projects.

    I wish I had one day to craft with you and exchange secrets. it would be dangerous, in a good way.


  2. Thank you for this tutorial, David. I have been experimenting with Mod Podge and had lots of wrinkles as well. Laser printed image and soak the paper in water for a minute. I’ll try that! Question, do you water down your Mod Podge in the squeeze bottle? Sometimes it seems a little too thick to me…

    1. Hi Jenni! I don’t water down the Mod Podge at all (although I imagine that the combo of excess water from the soaked paper does it for me a little bit). I also, as you can see in the pic, don’t use a whole lot – just enough to give a fairly even, thin layer that covers the whole surface.

  3. Hi David! Thank you so much for the tutorial, all for me! lol I really appreciate it, I guess I need to invest in a roller!

  4. Thank you for sharing. I usually get some wrinkles and often end up tearing or rubbing off areas of the print trying to smooth them out. Or I just go with the wrinkles, try to add a few more, and pretend they were meant to be there all along! I can’t wait to try your method. I do have a question though; do you then wait for it to dry before putting a layer of Mod Podge on top of the print, or add the next layer while it’s still wet…or does it even matter? (I tend to overthink, sorry.) Love you and all your projects! If I lived in CA I would def be your BFF! (Okay… I’d be a stalker.) Thanks again.

    1. Great question Darci! I should have taken it to that next step. I let it all dry thoroughly before I move on to a seal coat. When I’m in a hurry (which seems to be all the time) I put whatever it is out in the sun or in a sunny spot to move the drying process along.
      Hope that helps and thanks for the question!
      BTW: Cheltenham Road has an open stalker policy. Come to CA anytime!

  5. Does this wrinkle remover work for aging skin on the face? That would be something else to make this reader happy. Good tip!

  6. Hi David. Love your work! Thanks for the great tutorial – I tried it and it worked every time except I just tried it on the inside of my jewelry box and (as you mentioned) the paper expanded a bit and though I tried very gently to trim off the little bit of excess, it ripped beyond repair 😦 What do you do when you are working on the inside of something? Would love to hear back from you.

    1. Hi Holly. Sorry to hear about the mishap-it’s happened to me as well. There are a couple of options to try for next time.
      When I’m covering, say, the inside of a tray, if the paper can be broken up into sections and attached separately it’s easy to avoid the expansion problem. Of course, that only works if you’re working with a collage or design where overlapping images is ok (i.e. you don’t want to try to match up intricate designs cause you’ll end up with visible seems)
      Alternatively, if you’ve already laid down the paper and you get the expansion/overlap problem just let it dry thoroughly. Once it’s dry you can often just use a sharp craft knife to make a clean cut and then you can scrape away the excess paper. That usually works fine although you may have to do some sanding/repairing to get rid of any leftover bits of paper that stick.
      And finally, if you know in advance that the expansion may be a problem you can use painters tape and tape off the inside of the box, then Mod Podge as usual and, again, after letting it dry cut along the seam and peel away the tape (and along with it the excess paper).
      Hope that help/makes sense – let me know if it’s confusing.

      1. I really appreciate you taking the time to write me back with such good ideas!! I will try all of them at one point or another I am sure 🙂 I will try the tape trick right now! Thank you very much 🙂

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