Mod Podge is a decoupage medium and is used for different arts and crafts projects. It is made with a few different ingredients, which help it to glue, seal, and finish various mediums and projects.
You can often find Mod Podge ready-made and sold in bottles, but if you are having a hard time finding the right version, or would prefer to look for an alternative, you might be a little clueless as to what would be the next best option.
What are the best substitutes for Mod Podge? The best substitute for Mod Podge would be PVA glue. It will not give you the same perfect results, but it is the best substitute. The problem is that Mod Podge is a unique formula made with unique ingredients to achieve specific results, and no other substance has this same formula.
Avoid using regular glue, as it will not seal and finish the project off properly. To know more about the best substitutes for Mod Podge, keep reading for some helpful tips!
What Is Mod Podge?
Mod Podge is a medium used for decoupage. It is used as a glue, sealer, and finisher for many different projects, and is mostly used to stick a design down to a surface. It is made from a certain formulation of different ingredients which give it all the necessary properties to perform its function.
Many people think that Mod Podge is made from watered-down PVA glue, but it really is not, and there is much more to it than just glue! In addition, Mod Podge is non-toxic and water-based, so it is ideal for the whole family to use.
Mod Podge is used mainly for decoupage, which is a French word that means “cut out.” It entails cutting out pictures or designs from paper or fabric (or just finding one you like) and using Mod Podge to glue it down to a surface.
It acts as a 3-in-1, gluing the paper or fabric down, sealing it, and finishing it off with a certain shine or polish. Mod Podge can be used on a whole host of different mediums, such as on wooden pieces, jewelry, and so much more.
PVA Glue As A Mod Podge Substitute
PVA glue would be the next best option if you cannot get your hands onto Mod Podge. It can be used to glue paper or fabric down onto a surface and to seal it too. It is the closest you can get to the properties that Mod Podge offers, but there are some differences.
Using PVA glue instead of Mod Podge will not give you the same glossy finish as what Mod Podge does, but it does help to glue the designs down well. To properly seal the paper or fabric down, you might want to water the PVA glue down a little bit.
Watering down the PVA glue to use it as a sealer will stop it from being too sticky and tacky, and it will give a clearer seal and finish. A good ratio would be to mix 1/3 cup of water with 1 cup of PVA glue. Mix this together well before using.
You should only use this watered-down mixture for sealing, and not for gluing the designs down, as it would be too watery and weak and would not stick things down properly.
When watering down PVA to use as a sealant, make sure to do a patch test and to allow it to cure, to make sure that you are happy with the finish before going on and sealing the whole project.
You might find that it contains too much glue and that there are glue streaks left behind, or it is too watery and leaves watermarks behind. You will have to find the perfect ratio before sealing it all.
Polyurethane In Place Of Mod Podge
Polyurethane or clear lacquer can be used to seal decoupage down, but not as a gluing agent. You could glue the paper or fabric down to a medium using PVA glue, and to seal it down well, you could spray the surface with some clear lacquer.
The clear lacquer spray will help seal the design down and can protect it for a long time. Using the spray, you will be adding a waterproof surface to your project as well, which can help to protect it even further.
It is actually a great idea to use clear lacquer spray to seal down decoupage, as it can varnish and seal just about any medium, and it adds some sturdiness to the top layer too.
There is some preparation that you need to do before giving decoupage a clear lacquer spray. You should very gently scrub the surface of the decoupage with steel wool, but not enough to damage the design, and clean it off using a slightly damp towel. Once it has dried, you can apply a layer of clear lacquer.
Making Your Own Mod Podge
If you are not happy with any of the available Mod Podge substitutes, you could always choose to make your own!
There are two Mod Podge recipes that you can use to make your own Mod Podge at home, with some simple ingredients that you likely have at home already.
While neither will give you the same exact results as using real Mod Podge, they will come real close and give you some great results regardless.
The two Mod Podge recipes are flour-based and glue-based, and both give different finishes.
Glue-Based Mod Podge
Glue-based Mod Podge obviously has a glue base, which means it will help to stick fabric or paper down securely to the surface and work to seal it down as well.
- 8 ounces craft glue (white Elmer’s glue works well)
- 4 ounces water
- 2 tablespoons water-based varnish
- Clean out a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. A glass jar is the best option, but plastic can work too.
- Measure out 8 ounces of craft glue into the jar. If the glue is too thick, you can warm it a bit in warm water by placing the bottle into the warm water for a little while.
- Once the glue has been poured into the glass jar, you can add the 4 ounces of water in.
- Stir the glue and the water well to combine them together.
- Once the glue and water have been combined, add in 2 tablespoons of the water-based varnish to give the mixture a shine.
- Close the lid tight and shake the mixture to mix it all together well.
Tip: You can make sparkly Mod Podge by adding 2 tablespoons of superfine glitter into the mix, to give the decoupage finish a beautiful sparkle!
Check out this video by mommylove on YouTube to learn how to make homemade Mod Podge with glue.
Flour-Based Mod Podge
Flour-based Mod Podge is made with a mix of flour and sugar, and a few other ingredients found in the kitchen.
This is a really easy Mod Podge to make as you likely have all of the ingredients in your kitchen already. One thing to keep in mind is that flour-based Mod Podge might give the decoupage a grainy finish, so consider if this will be okay for your project or not.
- 1 ½ cups flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon vinegar
- Clean out a plastic or glass jar that has a lid that can seal airtight.
- In a pot, add in the flour and the sugar. Make sure to sift the flour to remove any clumps.
- Add the water to the pot and rapidly beat to mix the flour, sugar, and water together, and to remove any clumps. Add in the olive oil now as well, to make the sealant a little glossier.
- Once all of the ingredients are on the stove, turn it onto medium heat and keep stirring. Do not let the mix come to a boil, but stir and heat it until it turns into a thick, glue-like consistency. If it becomes too thick, add in some water.
- Adding in the vinegar will help to reduce any bacteria or mold growth, which helps the sealant stay in a good condition for longer. Only add in the vinegar once you have removed the pot from the heat.
- Leave the mixture to cool in the pot, until it has cooled to room temperature. Do not do anything with the mixture before it cools, as this might cause it to ferment.
- Once cooled, transfer the mixture into the glass jar, and give it one final stir.
- Close the lid tightly and then place it in the fridge. As it is made from perishable ingredients, you will need to use it within a week or two.
Tip: If the flour-based Mod Podge begins to smell funny or you notice any discoloration, then throw it away and don’t use it.
Sealing Homemade Mod Podge
If you choose to make your own Mod Podge as a substitute for the real thing, either using a glue-based or flour-based recipe, you should consider sealing it once it has dried.
A spray-on acrylic sealer can be applied at the end of the project to add a sealing and protective layer to your item, making it last much longer. It will make your homemade Mod Podge much more durable.
Once the first coat of acrylic sealer has been sprayed on and dried, you can add a second coat if you think it is necessary.
If you have added glitter to your homemade Mod Podge, then you should use an acrylic sealer that has a gloss finish, to bring out the sparkle of the glitter and not dull it!
Will PVA Glue Turn Yellow Over Time?
The problem with using PVA glue as a substitute for Mod Podge is that it can yellow over time, and this means that your project will yellow over time as well.
Not only will the surface of your decoupage yellow after a while, but the PVA glue might also start flaking and peeling too. It works great as a short-term substitute, but it definitely will not last as long as real Mod Podge will.
It is also important to note that PVA glue does not give the surface as glossy of a finish as Mod Podge does, and it is slightly dull and matte.
A spray layer of clear lacquer can help to add some gloss to the decoupage, so it might be worth doing this if you are using PVA glue. It will also help to prevent peeling and flaking and might put off the yellowing for a little longer.
The clear lacquer spray will make the PVA glue finish more durable and hopefully will help your project last for some time longer.
The Best Substitutes For Mod Podge
There really is no substitute for Mod Podge that will work as well as the real thing. The next best option, if you cannot get your hands on Mod Podge, is PVA glue. PVA glue can be used to glue the fabric or paper down, and then the glue can be watered down to be used as a sealant.
Another option is to make your own Mod Podge at home, using either a glue-based recipe or a flour-based recipe. These can work well if you have the ingredients at home and ready to use, and if you add a layer of clear lacquer over this, it can give you some great results.
You definitely do have some good substitute options available in place of Mod Podge, but nothing comes close to the real thing, which has been formulated to be ideal to glue, seal, and finish decoupage craft projects perfectly!
Can You Use Nail Varnish In Place Of Mod Podge?
It is easy to understand why some people might think that nail polish works in place of Mod Podge when sealing designs down, but it does not work well at all.
Nail polish will actually do the opposite, and ruin any projects you are working on if you try and use it as a sealant.
The properties of nail polish are very different from the properties of Mod Podge, and will definitely not give you the same finish. Nail polish can either expand or shrink when exposed to different environments, and either shrinking or expanding will ruin the project you are working on.
Nail polish also does not give a waterproof finish either and can chip or peel very easily, and your design might end up being chipped and peeled off as well.
You also will not be able to glue down paper or fabrics using nail polish, so you would have to look for another substance to use for this purpose anyway.
Is Mod Podge Just Glue?
Mod Podge does include glue in the formula, but it also includes other ingredients that help it work as a sealant as well, which normal PVA glue does not have.
Mod Podge also tends to have stronger bonding properties than other craft and school glues, which allows it to last for longer when used for certain projects.
What Is Mod Podge Used For?
Mod Podge is best used for decoupage and can be used on wood, cardboard, glass, tin, plastics, craft foam, and papier Mache. If you are unsure as to whether or not you can decoupage a surface, you can test the surface first and see how it turns out.
Is Mod Podge Waterproof?
If you are looking for a waterproof Mod Podge, it is best to choose outdoor Mod Podge, which is water-resistant and durable.