Why you shouldn’t make Mod Podge yourself

Why you shouldn't make your own Mod Podge

Photo courtesy of Cre8tive Designs

I get a lot of questions about how to make Mod Podge, and I’ve seen a lot of it on Pinterest recently, so I wanted to address with a blog post. Interestingly enough, I have been asked these questions for years. I should start by saying this is not a paid endorsement – no person or company asked me to post this, or even knows I’m doing it.

I just don’t want you to be disappointed.

The truth is, I’ve gotten MANY e-mails from people (with pictures) asking why their photo/furniture/gift project is yellowing/flaking/peeling and what they can do. With further prompting, I find out that they made a glue concoction on their own by adding water.

Mod Podge is a step above craft glue in terms of the sealing properties. Mod Podge is glue, but it’s also a sealer – and there are varnishes, etc. in the formula that don’t exist in craft glues. The bonding properties of Mod Podge are way stronger than that of (most) craft or school glues. Long story short, the ingredients in Mod Podge are not the same as craft glue, and in 99% of cases are superior. That is why Mod Podge costs more than craft glue.

And that is why it lasts longer and is more durable on projects.

A lot of the homemade recipes take craft glue and dilute it with water, which is just about the worst thing you can do to make a decoupage medium of any sort. You’re taking a glue that is inferior to decoupage medium and made it even thinner by adding water. This is why I receive pictures all the time of ruined furniture or home decor items that didn’t last more than a few years before the paper started peeling off or yellowing BADLY. In the short term, the projects might seem okay, but over the years, the projects go down the toilet. And then I get very sad e-mails.

Decoupage medium is more expensive than glue, but you’ll notice on the glue aisle of any craft store that there is a wide range of pricing depending on what the specific glue does. The more specialty the application, the more it’s going to cost. Mod Podge might be more expensive than glue and water, but the 8 oz. bottle lasts a long time, and you can always use a 40% coupon (do an online search to find them). Of course I think it’s worth it – but I also have the proof: jewelry, home decor items and furniture that have been around for years and still look as great as the day they were made. I hope this helps.

I’m always available for questions, by the way. Just send me at e-mail: amy @ modpodgerocksblog dot com

If you’re a newbie or can’t figure out how to get rid of wrinkles, check out my learn-how videos.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi, Amy! It doesn’t surprise me that there are recipes for homemade mod podge (no capitals for that), but I wouldn’t hesitate for a minute to buy real Mod Podge for Any project where it’s needed. I wouldn’t compromise my hard work with something inferior. Great post!

  2. CREATIVE MIND says

    Thanks Amy for this important post! I know there are homemade mod podge recipes all around & i was happy that now i can enjoy mod podge(homemade) in PK but thanks a bunch for sharing your thoughts & others experiences with us!
    All the best :)

  3. flyingbeader says

    I’ve taken doll making classes where the teacher has us make our decoupage & it is so messy & does not dry well or flakes or just is nasty! So now whenever I take a class & I see certain ingredients, I always reach for my ModPodge. Why treat your art like it is cheap!

  4. Keri says

    Thanks for addressing this! I’ve also seen the homemade version but didn’t want to try it before I knew if it actually worked.

  5. Pamela says

    Thank you Amy!! I love Pinterest but those home made concoctions on there were really disturbing me. Why anyone would try to make their own when you know who(s) has 40% off at least every other week is beyond me. But it is NOT that expensive because it goes a looong way! I have used Modge Podge since the 70’s, yes I’m an old crafter, and there is a REASON it’s been around for such a long time people! I am so glad you cleared this up, now to retweet & pin this so others can see!
    Pam

  6. says

    I am SO glad you posted this! I’ve thought about trying to make a Mod Podge substitute, but have never done it and now I won’t! One less project to tackle. Thank you!

  7. Laura at Ms. Smartie Pants says

    My experience has not always been what you have described. I started decoupaging long before they had mod podge and we used watered down glue. I have had things that have lasted for years without any problems. I guess I have been lucky. I’m not against mod podge, I use it often. I prefer the finish of MP but if I run out of it I have no problem grabbing the glue.

  8. Anne says

    I would never try to make my own – why would I want to go to all that mess and fuss when I can just buy the stuff that works the best? So I’ll stick to buying Mod Podge with my 40% off coupons. I’ll also stick to calling it Modge Podge. I don’t know why.

  9. Michelle @ Sweet Something Design says

    Hi Amy, I have used MP for many, many years, it is top of the line, there are no substitutes. Period. I also really love sparkle MP, that stuff is amazing and smells really good, not that I’m a glue sniffer or anything. :)

  10. Anonymous says

    Mod Podge rocks!! I really am not interested in trying to make my own, because I figured the quality wouldn’t compare so thanks for the info. And you never have to pay full price for it, since there are coupons available almost every week for 40% off…

  11. Colleen @ MuralMaker&More says

    I kinda thought it had something to do with the sealer, but wasn’t sure. After experimenting with white glue, fabric stiffener & Mod Podge, it’s just better to use each product for what it’s made for, imho.

    And you’re right, Mod Podge lasts a long time, so the value is incredible.

  12. Loopy Loop says

    Amy, I am really glad you posted them. I saw the recipe and went for it. Something just did not feel right and I went back to my mod podge. It would kill me to think that something I put time in and sold did not pass the test of time!

  13. Chris says

    This is totally true. I tried to water down glue because I read it was the same thing. NOT EVEN CLOSE! Luckily any time I used it, I could fix it by either peeling it off and redoing it, or painting over it.

  14. Miss Tori's Treasures says

    I wish I had read this post before I decided to make my own. I now a large batch of watery-glue that hasn’t managed to actually make anything stick. I can’t stand the thought of just throwing it away (since I actually have some $$$ invested into it), so for now it has been condemned to a dark corner under the kitchen sink. The Mod Podge has taken back it’s rightfully spot in the craft box.

  15. Susie says

    Thank you for this info. I was looking for something because I had posted a Mod Podge project on my blog and my UK friends all want to know about Mod Podge, I guess they can’t get it over there. I don’t know what to tell them, I don’t know if there is a product that is the same for sale where they are (and apparently shipping to them must be very expensive). But after I ran across your article I decided against suggesting the home made versions. :(

  16. Heidi@TheCraftMonkey says

    Thanks for sharing! I’ve seen this on pinterest and wondered if it could be true. Thanks for shedding light on the subject. But I don’t think anything could ever replace my ooey gooey trusty mod podge!

    PS. Can you talk to someone about making the big jars come with the same kind of pop top as the little ones? So much neater! :)

  17. Cowie Kaunweigh says

    Remember In School When You Used White Glue To Coat Your Paper Mache Ideas And As Soon As It Got Wet It Got All Mushy And Sticky………….That’s Why Mod Podge Is The Way To Go.

  18. BluKatDesign handmade artisan jewelry says

    Most glues are acidic that’s why they can yellow and eventually “eat” away the paper. I use decoupage glue for most of my craft & art projects. I even used it to glue plastic bottle caps in my latest project!

  19. Shastar says

    Thanks for this blog. I was just googling how to make my own Mod Podge since I can’t find it in any craft stores in Australia, when I came across your warning blog. I think I’ll try and find an alternative. If anyone can help me with what I might find in Australia that would be similar, please help. Thanks.

    • Anonymous says

      Hi :)
      Not sure where you’re from in Aus but i know Mod Podge is sold in Riot Art & Craft stores.

  20. JeKaren says

    I have to say, Finding Modge Podge in Thailand is like finding flying pigs. it just doesn’t exist. It would be nice to have it to use in my classroom (I’m an art teacher) but the expense of getting it shipped from the states makes it too expensive to consider. It would be great if this product was available on the international market.

    • Shastar says

      Thanks so much. Since posting my comment, I have found Mod Podge in Spotlight stores here in Australia and have been using it to add graphics to my Shabby Chic restoration projects. Check out some of them on my blog! I LOVE MOD PODGE and it does indeed ROCK!! Thanks for posting this.

  21. Marie says

    So true, I have been experimenting with the homemade versions, but this makes a lot of sense to me, I’m glad I read it before taking on pricier projects like homemade signs!!

  22. Susan says

    I love Mod Podge and have used it a lot. I completely decoupaged a plain fake-walnut looking particleboard cabinet in a vintage rose giftwrap (now no longer being manufactured, boo hoo), and am currently scattering Victorian scraps over it. Believe me, I have used tons of Mod Podge to do this. At least two quart size jars so far! But when I ran out I used Durwin Rice’s formula of wallpaper paste mixed with Elmer’s white glue. It seemed to work well and I can’t tell the difference where I used it. With all the time and money invested in this, I hope it holds up! I plan to seal it with Varathane acrylic floor finish. I have more Mod Podge now to finish my scraps with because it seems to be easier to work with.

  23. Marian says

    Can get any more supplies in Ireland. Any craft shops are now only selling a Decopatch range instead. All say they can’t get supplies any more. HELP!!!

  24. says

    I totally agree! I have seen the recipe flying around Pinterest and have never pinned it because it seems a bit sacrilege to me. I a true Mod Podge girl- why reinvent the wheel?

  25. Bits by Bapely ♥ says

    I have made the glue/water ‘ModPodge’ before and used it. I have never had problems yellowing or anything like that and I feel it works just fine.

  26. Jenn says

    Ok, well I have never heard of MOD PODGE and have pinned the make your own kind on pinterest BUT I found this and am now SUPER hesitant about trying it. I know the local craft store that has the 40% off coupons as we just got one of those stores 2 months ago LOL, I will definitely try out the real stuff and hoping the price is good, everyone says it is :)

  27. Mrs. Edwards says

    What about the recipes that include flour and warm water? I love Mod Podge too, but I was just wondering about that type of recipe. I tried it once with a dictionary page collage and it seemed to work fine and is still holding up. it is just way more trouble to make it, it smells weird, and gets moldy after a few days. it just didn’t seem worth it to me when you can get this product that lasts 40 times longer!! :)

    • says

      Hi Mrs. Edwards! I would agree. The flour and warm water is just flour, so no glue and sealing properties. I just wouldn’t go to the trouble when you can get a jar that lasts a long time, and you can get 40% off coupons all the time to the major craft stores. That makes it just a few bucks, which is what people spend on a latte.

  28. says

    Followed this post from a comment on another thread with DIY glue recipes/recommendations. TY for the warnings! Yes, it’s not worth losing a nice piece of art you’ve created to save a $1 or 2. Sometimes, DIY is NOT the way to go.

  29. Lisa of "The Creative Need" says

    I have to weigh in on this one…Modge is great for paper projects, however for fabric, the watered down glue is fine. I used white school glue diluted slightly with water to adhere fabric cutouts to glass mason jars that are used as candle holders. I soaked the fabric cutouts in the glue/water mix, put them on the jars, used an rag to wipe of excess. When dry I sealed with an acrylic sealer as they also had been painted with craft paint. This was in 1998! They are still in perfect condition, no yellowing, the cut outs have not come loose.

    • says

      Lisa, while you may have had success, several of the destroyed projects I have seen have used fabric. I absolutely stand by what I said and do not recommend it – especially for wear and tear items like furniture. There’s no reason to take the chance when a bottle of Mod Podge is not that expensive.

    • Anonymous says

      I am new to decoupaging. I’ve been considering elmers glue. I’m so glad I found this cause I’d hate to spend the time and than not have
      it last. Thanks!

  30. Anonymous says

    I think the problems may arise when there is no sealer applied. I can’t see what it would hurt to use the glue/water IF you were going to cover it with sealer. After all, if you are sealing it, the mod podge or glue mixture is just attaching it to the surface. Also, as far as the flour is concerned in one recipe, flour DOES have glue like properties. I have read where they used to use flour and water as a glue in the past to glue plates together when they break. (Maybe in the “old days”) Also, I think glue from 20 years ago was much better. I made a wooden tray a long time ago before I knew what mod podge was. I used Elmer’s Glue (full strength) and brushed several layers over my pictures, cut out from a calendar. It is still beautiful today. But some projects I made recently with Elmer’s Glue have already started peeling off the surfaces they were attached to. I still love mod podge, and will use it, but I just wanted to share my thoughts…
    Jan Jones

  31. Heidi @ Honeybear Lane says

    I personally find the taste of Mod Podge to be much more appealing than watered down glue. Mod Podge just has that glue-y pastey flavor that you just can’t beat. I always grab the MP when I need a quick snack. :) xoxo

  32. Apsolutely Me! says

    My mod podge stash which I got from the US thro a friend(I live in India) is almost done and I was tempted to try the home made version! Now to wait for someone else to go to the US..

    • Shay says

      I’m in the exact same predicament. I live in Bolivia and can’t get modge podge :o( Was thinking about making my own until I ran across this post. Guess I will have to put that on my wish list for a care package or a friend to bring back from U.S.

  33. Sherry says

    I make my own modge podge with flour, sugar, and water. I wallpapered my office with brown paper bags, and it looks great!

    • Shay says

      Isn’t that called “paper mache”? Just did this with my high school art class (except used salt so it wouldn’t mildew).

  34. says

    Hi Amy,

    I’m so glad I found this blog entry. I am getting ready to breathe new life into an old file cabinet. This will be the first project of its kind for me. So….In doing some ‘research’ on mod podge, decoupage, hodge podge (lol) I came across your website. Great site! Useful information for a newbie ‘podger’ like me!

    PS Sock monkeys rock!

    Laura

Trackbacks

  1. [...] You will also need Mod Podge, which you can purchase from art and craft stores (I bought a 118ml bottle from Spotlight for $8.99). There are many different types of Mod Podge so to give you a guide, I bought the matte version for use on all surfaces. Now, some people will tell you that you can make your own with PVA glue and water but after some more research I discovered that this formula can give varied results and will yellow and/or flake over time. As I was considering selling what I created I didn’t want to compromise on quality so I decided firmly on ‘true blue’ Mod Podge. For more information on the comparison between home-made and real Mod Podge see here. [...]

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