I'm rounding in on my one year anniversary for this lil' blog, and as a homage to my most popular post, My Homemade Mod Podge, I'm going to do a hearty review on homemade decoupages vs. the real deal, Mod Podge. To test the different mixtures I will be covering three cardboard rectangles with fabric. These will be used in a wire shelving unit I have in our downstairs bathroom. I used the shelves to store our extra washcloths and hand towels, but they just fall through the cracks, and it just looks a mess.
I used three large pieces of cardboard, a measuring tape, a pencil, a sharp box cutter, and cotton fabric. As you can see in this photo I have three different fabrics, but in the end I decided to use only one, so I wouldn't have a bunch of variables making it hard to compare the different mixtures.
I began by measuring the existing shelves on the wire unit, and then using those measurements I marked out where I would need to cut the cardboard to make it the appropriate size. My first tip for this step is the age old adage "Measure twice, cut once". My other tip is when cutting cardboard with a box cutter don't try to cut through all the layers on your first cut. It might take three or four times to get through all the layers, but the results will be better if you don't force it.
Once I had the pieces cut I checked to make sure they fit.
Next I cut out the fabric, I started by smoothing it out face down, and then placing the cardboard over it. I happened to have a nice corner to start in, so I lined the edge of the cardboard up with the fabric, and moved about a half inch in, to create a boarder around the cardboard. Then I cut the other two sides out leaving a half inch boarder on those sides as well. I repeated this for the other two pieces as well.
Now to start the comparisons! I began with the Mod Podge so that I would have a baseline to compare my two homemade mixtures to. I covered one whole side of the cardboard with the Mod Podge, and then I quickly flipped it over and pressed the cardboard against the cotton fabric.
Then I painted some Mod Podge down one of the sides, and then folded over the fabric, and added some more Mod Podge over the flap of fabric. I repeated this process with the opposite side.
To fold in the other two sides I applied some Mod Podge to the corners, and then folded them in. I did this to all four corners, before Mod Podgeing the remaining sides of fabric down.
I checked out how it looks before I moved on to the next step.
The first homemade decoupage mixture I whipped up was equal parts basic white glue and water. A few people commented that this was better then my homemade mixture, so I knew it was a must in this comparison. I emptied the glue into a brand new mason jar, and then filled the glue container up with water, and poured it in. Then I tightly screwed the lid on, and gave it a good shake.
The other mixture I made with 3/4 cup of flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of peanut oil (any type will do), and 5/8 cup of water. I mixed all the ingredients together on low heat in a small sauce pan. I used a whisk to get all the clumps out. It's important to not let the mixture boil, or it will burn. Here are all three mixtures. They are in order from left to right, and as you can see the mixture made of kitchen ingredients is a bit yellow. That's the first major difference you can see right off the bat.
Here is what the backside of all the three cardboards looked like after they were completed with the three different decoupages. The flour mixture I did just before I took the photos and that's why it's still wet.
Real Mod Podge is ultra thick, which can be important, and it dries in seconds. The results were just as expected.
The other two seemed to take forever to dry, the glue and water mixture was the slowest at drying. It also bowed the cardboard at first, but it eventually did flatten out again, the one positive was that it dried the clearest. It also was the only mixture that seeped through the fabric on the front side. I had to apply more glue to the corners then I did with the Mod Podge, and it made the cardboard smooshy. I'm sure this mixture would be an adequate stand-in for Mod Podge for some projects, just not all.
The mixture made of kitchen ingredients was pretty much neck in neck with the water and glue mixutre. It dried a little faster, and I didn't need to apply as much to the corners as I did with the other homemade batch. The cons are it does leave a bit of a residue, and over time the mixture separates. Though I really like that this mixture is completely kid friendly. A child could eat a big spoonful of this, and there wouldn't be any ill effects, but I wouldn't suggest anyone eat the other two glues. This might not have the durability or as many uses as the real Mod Podge, but it would be fantastic for kid projects, or anything that doesn't need to last forever.
There you have it, homemade decoupages are great for when you're in a pinch, but they don't replace the real deal. I promise I'm not being paid by Mod Podge to say this either. I personally bought all of the materials for this project (and all my other projects). After testing these three mixtures I am a strong support of the real Mod Podge. The homemade mixtures just don't compare. Sure they work well enough, but there are some cons to them as well. They are both rather runny, and take a long time to dry.
Before I go I want to share how my bathroom shelving unit turned out.
Much improved. I'm glad I used this project to test the different Mod Podge mixtures. I killed two birds with one stone. I hope you enjoyed this review as well, and happy DIYing, chris!