You've asked it in a few different ways, but the basic question is the same. I'm ready to explain to you with my Mod Podge formula guide – so let's do this thing. And in case you are wondering if you should make your own Mod Podge, the answer is no. Here's why.
#1 thing to remember: All Mod Podge formulas are essentially the same in that they can all do three things. They are all good for gluing, sealing and finishing. The finish or use may be different, but they are all capable of those three things. Don't forget that. Now read on – but before you do that, here's a video to watch about the formulas!
Classic Mod Podge: There are 2 formulas that fall under this umbrella: Gloss and Matte. When the best decoupage medium in the world was developed over 40 years ago, it was started with these two. The only difference between these two is the finish that results when it's dry. That's it.
Gloss – Shiny finish.
Matte – Non-shiny (flat) finish.
With Gloss I typically hear, “after it's dry, it's sticky.” Sometimes I hear that about Matte too. It really depends on the climate you live in, but there's a very simple solution: spray with several coats of a clear acrylic sealer and you'll be fine. Stickiness be gone! Extra protection too.
Result: great for all types of projects and most surfaces. This is your all-around Mod Podge.
Okay. Now after the two classics were born, the people at Plaid thought, “What if we developed Mod Podge in different formulas – for specific needs?” So they did. They kept the two classics around, so if you notice that some of these properties overlap with those two classic formulas, you are correct. But think about it – can you really get rid of the original formulas? No way.
Antique Mod Podge: There are some who love the look of vintage, aged projects that have an antique feel. You can use acrylic paint to get this effect, but it takes a little skill. The Antique enables you to get that aged look simply by brushing it on. A slight brown tint is how it works. This formula comes in a Matte finish.
Result: Matte finish with a slightly brown, heirloom look. Ages your projects without the time.
Brushstroke Mod Podge: Are you looking to get the look of a hand painted image without the hefty price tag? Simply paint Brushstroke Mod Podge over the top for a highly textured finish for an artistic look. Comes in Gloss or Matte.
Result: Very textured and dimensional (yet clear) and gives you the look of hand painting.
Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge: You asked for it, and now you finally have it! This formula was released in January 2014. It does the gluing, sealing and finishing of regular decoupage medium – but now you can put those items in the top rack of the dishwasher! You should still keep this formula away from food and your mouth (3/4″ from the top of a glass), but now you can add items to cups, plates and more . . . and wash them! Gloss finish.
Result: Use to add paper or fabric to something you want to wash (top rack dishwasher or hand wash only).
Extreme Glitter Mod Podge: Do you want Sparkle Mod Podge on steroids? Because that's what this is! This formula contains ultra fine glitter and LOTS of it . . . so you wouldn't want to put it over a paper or fabric where you want to see fine detail. It looks great on all colors of surfaces but best on anything dark because the glitter really pops. I also love it on glass.
Result: Amazingly glittery finished surface that looks best on dark surfaces. Think “galaxy themed!”
Fabric Mod Podge: It's not just wood or paper that people like to decoupage – it's fabric too! Not only that, you know I love to decoupage fabric TO other surfaces. This formula does both. You can decoupage things to fabric with it, and you can prepare fabric for decoupaging to surfaces by lightly brushing on and allowing to dry before cutting. It eliminates fraying. Here are 20 things you can do with Fabric Mod Podge.
Result: Use to prepare fabric for decoupaging to surfaces and for decoupaging things onto fabric.
Furniture Mod Podge: This formula is similar to Hard Coat, but developed just for furniture pieces – also just comes in 16 oz. . . because you're probably going to need more than the standard 8 oz bottle! Comes in Gloss, Matte, or Satin depending on the finish you fancy.
Result: Use for any furniture re-dos that you take on . . . like one of these 15 unique decoupage furniture projects.
Glow-in-the-Dark Mod Podge: Exactly what it sounds like. It's the gloss Mod Podge with crushed fireflies! Kidding. Anyway, you'll need to apply several coats for the best glowing effect. I love this stuff for kids' project and my favorite-est holiday in the world, Halloween.
Result: You can't really see the finish when the lights are on, but it glows-in-the-dark! Expose to light to recharge.
Hard Coat Mod Podge: This formula was specially developed to be super tough! Provides extra protection for projects that are frequently used and handled. It has a satin finish, which is somewhere between matte and gloss. It doesn't show the scratches like the matte or gloss!
Result: perfect for furniture. It's the ultimate durable Mod Podge finish.
Kids Wash Out Mod Podge: The standard MP formulas are pretty tough and not necessarily easy to get out of clothing and off of surfaces. They were meant to be that way! This formula was specially developed so that children can use it – they can spill it on their clothing or furniture without worry. Not that you want to dump it on your couch, but if it gets on there you won’t have a problem getting it off. Check out these 20 fun and easy decoupage kids' crafts – these are perfect for the kids' wash out formula.
Result: A typical glossy finish, but this will wash out of children’s clothing and furniture with ease.
Outdoor Mod Podge: decoupage + stuff that goes outdoors. . . . = Outdoor Mod Podge? Yes! Protects your decoupage project from moisture and the elements. Great for clay pots.
Result: Pretty simple: anything you decoupage that you want to sit outside. I recommend also sealing with an outdoor sealer for added durability.
Paper Mod Podge: A lot of people are confused by this one – can't regular Mod Podge be used for paper. YES! Here's the thing though: the Mod Podge people realized that there is a group out there that do more advanced paper projects; scrapbooking to be specific. These people like their projects to be archival, and that means they want their glues to be as well.
Result: Archival quality, keeps photos and papers from yellowing, and extends the life of scrapbooking projects. Comes in a gloss and matte finish.
Pearl Mod Podge: I'm imagining that your biggest use for this formula will be during the holidays. I mean, can you imagine a beautiful, shimmery topcoat on all of your handmade Christmas ornaments? But you can use it all year if you want to – there are no limits! It does dull the pattern slightly (it's harder to see through the pearlescence) and I find that it looks best on darker colors, at least to me . . . . but you can even paint it on white for a more subtle finish.
Result: Shimmery finish that changes colors in the light.
Puzzle Saver Mod Podge: You're probably not going to need an entire 8 oz. bottle of decoupage medium to seal a puzzle – and it might be nice to have a brush included, especially if you aren't a regular crafter. Great idea, right? Well, the makers of Mod Podge thought so too, so they put together a little 2 oz. bottle of Mod Podge with a brush on a card. You can use the Classic formula to seal puzzles too; this was created for folks who aren't regular decoupagers but still have a need for the good stuff.
Result: Basic formula with simple Gloss finish.
Satin Mod Podge: This is the same as the two classic formulas, but the finish is satin. What is a satin finish, you ask? It gives a lustrous, soft appearance somewhere between a matte and gloss. Because it is oh-so-slightly frosted, it shows scratches less than matte or gloss.
Result: great for projects where you want a non-glossy, soft appearance that wears well.
Sheer Colors: These were new in 2014. This is regular Mod Podge, and can do everything that regular Mod Podge can do, but it's TINTED in colors! This means it's perfect for coloring mason jars and dyeing glass. Currently you can get this formula in Aqua, Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, and Yellow.
Result: Use as regular Mod Podge, but it's got a tint! Great for dyeing glass, too.
Sparkle Mod Podge: Did you know there is a decoupage medium with glitter already inside? Yes. Sparkle Mod Podge contains hologram glitter pieces (rainbow effect) in a gloss base. Use several coats for more sparkle and shine.
Result: Adds glitz to your project in a minimum of one coat. Note that this shows up great on dark surfaces.
Ultra Matte Chalk Mod Podge: You know that chalk paint and finishes are all the rage right now. You can get that smooth, luxurious feel of a finish with this formula. It's hard to explain how beautiful it is until you see it with your own eyes, and run your hand along it. I think it's an amazing finish for furniture, especially a vintage item that you want to protect.
Result: VERY flat (no shine) and soft to the touch. No brushstrokes.
There are a few special Mod Podge formulas that don’t do the gluing, but they act as special finishes and are complimentary to all of the decoupage products above. Here they are.
Mod Podge Clear Chalkboard Topcoat: You won't be decoupaging anything down with this one – you'll want to use it on TOP of your decoupage to turn it into a chalkboard! I absolutely love that. Note: you can't use chalk pens!! Only really chalk.
Result: Clear, matte finish that you'll be able to write on with chalk (not pens, regular chalk sticks).
Mod Podge Crackle Medium: Add a crackled coat to the Mod Podge on the top of your project. You'll need to add a contrasting paint color over the top to make it show up – but you'll like the finished look.
Result: Ultra fine, eggshell crackle.
Mod Podge Dimensional Magic: Traditional resins give you a hard, varnish finish but are toxic and require mixing – not Dimensional Magic! This product adds an epoxy-like finish to jewelry and paper crafts and dries clear. You can layer Dimensional Magic on top of itself (let it dry between layers). This formula comes in Clear, Gold Glitter and Silver Glitter.
Result: Get the look of resin or epoxy without the toxicity and mixing. Dries clear and dimensional.
Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium: You can use this formula to create decals or appliques from any original photo. You can also transfer images to fabric or wood. Keep in mind this isn't clear – so anything you transfer will have a white background. It takes some practice to use this formula, but once you get the hang of it, there are no limits to what you can transfer! See 30 Mod Podge photo transfer crafts here (most of them use this medium).
Result: A opaque photo transfer with a slick feel to the surface (you can decoupage over the top).
Mod Podge Stiffy: I get a lot of laughs about the name of this product, but stiffening is EXACTLY what it does! And I tell you, I love Stiffy. It's not used for decoupaging or gluing anything down – not a top coat either. Instead, you simply dip items into Stiffy and it . . . stiffens them. Before you ask why you'd want to do that, check out my doily bowls. I have a lot of projects planned with Stiffy that I can't wait to try.
Result: Not used for decoupage; instead, used to stiffen (primarily) fabrics into 3D shapes.
Mod Podge Super Thick Gloss: You can't glue with the Super Gloss; the goal here is to get a smooth, epoxy-like finish over a large area. To use, Mod Podge your pieces down with another formula. Then use the Super Gloss over the top. it's self-leveling and thicker than regular Mod Podge. So it gives you a very shiny, clear finish that looks like epoxy but isn't (it's not as thick as Dimensional Magic for those who are wondering).
Result: A super shiny, clear finish that is a little bit more thick than regular Mod Podge.
OTHER MOD PODGE PRODUCTS
The Mod Podge brand encompasses more than just decoupage mediums and special formulas! Here are some additional products that you can find at the craft stores.
Acrylic Sealers: If you need a strong sealer to spray on top of your finished project, these come in Gloss, Matte, Pearlized (which has a bit of shimmer), and Super Gloss.
Acrylic & Chipboard Shapes: I actually love using these shapes in my Mod Podge projects. You can Mod Podge paper or fabric or on the back, and Dimensional Magic the front. Love the instant embellishments! They come in Basic and Designer.
Glues: There are basic glues used for crafting available such as Wonder Glue (very strong, for jewelry or similar applications).
Metal Blanks: For jewelry, rings and other trinkets. I use these all the time.
Mod Melts and Molds: This product line was developed by my friends Cathie and Steve – and it's genius! You can use these silicone molds and the melt sticks to make your own embellishments . . . which you can paint and then add to your decoupage projects.
Mod Podge Tools and Brushes: There are several branded tools and brushes that are specifically designed for decoupage projects: a large and small brush applicator, 7 piece tool set, silicone mat, spouncers, finger caps, professional tool set and more.
Papers: If you are going to Mod Podge, you gotta have paper, right? These come in a variety of designs.
That should cover it! I want to let you know, as a final word, that ALL Mod Podge is self-sealing. You don't have to hit with acrylic sealer. I sometimes recommend it, but that is only for added durability beyond what you already get with the formulas above. If something is going to get used frequently and beat up, then you should also spray or brush on seal with something additional.