How to Glue Fabric to Wood: Simple Step by Step Guide

The first mistake one makes when gluing a piece of fabric to wood is using a basic crafting glue. I can say from experience that the fabric will only slide away from its place if crafting glue is used. The glue has to be absorbed well by the wood and fabric both for the best results.

There are certain considerations regarding the wood piece as well. You can’t just slap a fabric to any wood and hope that it stays on.

how to glue fabric to wood

So, how to glue fabric to wood? Is there any foolproof method to it? In this article, I’ll try to illustrate some of the best ways that I’ve found to be the most effective and long-lasting as well.

Try to follow the instructions carefully if you want to achieve the same results. Don’t worry; I’ll also mention the alternatives you can use if you don’t have the required accessories.

How to Glue Fabric to Wood

What Will You Need?

The first task for this project is to gather the tools. Make sure that the fabric works well with the adhesive. Any cotton or calico fabric will do. Keep a brayer with you. You’ll need adhesive, scissors, scrapers, brushes, etc. Let’s talk about the best adhesive medium for wood.

What will work best for a fabric and wood combination? A typical crafting glue will just mess it up for you to clean up later. The best option, in my opinion, is the Furniture Mod Podge. I got the best results with it both in terms of satisfying application and long-lasting service.

What’s a Mod Podge?

Assuming you are new to this stuff, I don’t expect you to know about mod podge, the greatest adhesive for wood-related stuff.

Mod podge is unlike your typical glue. It feels almost like a watered-down glue, but that’s not it. Introduced as a glue sealer or a finish, mod podge has made its place into the top adhesives for light work such as the one you’re attempting.

Although the famous furniture mod podge has been discontinued, the hard coat mod podge remains.

You can also make mod podge yourself at home, even though it’s not exactly the mod podge from the industry. A homemade mod podge will include watered PVA glue. And that’s why people think that mod podge is essentially a watered-down PVA glue despite it not being the case.

I do recommend homemade mod podge if you can’t seem to buy one. So, the process of creating mod podge will be discussed at the end of this article.

Steps for Gluing Fabric to Wood

The steps below are as simple as they come. Follow these to the letter, and thank me later.

Step 01: Prepare the Wood

First thing’s first, the surface needs to be prepared for the adhesive to set properly. The surface in question is wood. And if you mess up the wood surface, you’re not getting the perfect stickiness on it no matter what adhesive you use.

Preparing the wood is pretty simple. You’re going to use a lot of sand grit paper to smoothen out the surface. If you just received the wood piece from the sawmill, you’ll need to start at 800-1000 grit sandpaper. Then, slowly go down from that to 100-200 grit. At that point, the wood starts to achieve the smoothness you’re looking for.

In case you’re only just re-applying fabric on a plank of varnished wood, start with 100-200 grit sandpaper. It should remove the varnish just enough to allow the adhesive to work cleanly.

Then you should consider washing the wood surface with a wet wipe or cloth. It’s to make sure that there is no wood dust. This step helped me a lot. Now, let it dry for some time.

What’s next?

Step 02: A Basecoat with an Appropriate Color

Yes, this is an important part which many people miss to notice only to regret afterward. So if you’re hearing this for the first time, do not make this mistake. A basecoat refers to a layer of paint appropriate for the type and color of the fabric you’re using.

Why Do You Need a Basecoat?

Suppose the fabric of your choice is on the lighter color spectrum, and it’s thin as well. If that’s the case, the color of the wood or varnish will be visible through it.

The issue is quite noticeable with light cotton fabric. Contrasting colors make each other pop. That’s why I always make sure that the underlying color isn’t contrasted with the fabric’s color.

If you’re concerned about the paint messing with the adhesive, then don’t. The paint layer will be thin enough to be ignorable completely.

Step 03: Wash and Dry the Fabric

Washing your fabric before you decoupage it onto wood is a good choice. All fabric has sizing in it, which was applied before the weaving was done. It may create dark blotches in the future. By washing the fabric, you’re getting rid of that risk.

Is it a must-do step? Not necessarily; you can skip this part if you wish to. You can successfully decoupage or attach the fabric, and it will stay there for a long time. The washing is only to prevent dark stains from emerging.

Step 04: Apply Mod Podge on the Fabric

When applying the mod podge, what I do is put my fabric on a piece of paper, preferably wax paper, and brush it.

Your first instinct might tell you to apply the mod podge on the wood, but it’s better to work with a fabric with adhesive. You can now easily attach the fabric, and it doesn’t flop around as much.

Step 05: Add Mod Podge to the Wood

When you’re done with the fabric, it’s time to do the same with the wood surface. Brush a good amount of mod podge on it. Don’t worry about the excess amount. It’ll flow off either by itself or when you press the fabric on the surface.

Step 06: A Brayer for Smoothening

I prefer to use a brayer to smoothen out the fabric. It’s not necessary to have a brayer. You can use any object that does the same job. Smoothening by hand will not be perfect. Trust me; it looks like crap after you’re done.

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Step 07: Drying Time

It’s time to let it dry. How long should you be drying it for? It may depend on the location, but I always let it dry for at least 24 hours before even touching it. Be patient, and you’ll reap the rewards.

Always keep a watch on the fabric. Do a light tug on the edges if you notice that it’s out of place.

If you follow these steps, you should be pretty satisfied with the results. However, I’m not done advising you yet.

An Alternative to Mod Podge

If you don’t have mod podge with you and you can’t also buy one, why not use PVA glue as an alternative? It’s the most versatile adhesive. It’s certainly not the optimum choice, but it works!

On the chance that you chose PVA glue, don’t apply too much; otherwise, it might mess up the fabric.

Read Next: Tips & Tricks on How to attach a feather to fabric

Tricks and Tips to Attach Fabric to Wood

Want to know the secrets to a fantastic result? Here are my 2 cents.

Practice, Practice, and Practice

I know this might be a bit too much for hobbyists, but you can’t deny the need.

Take scrap pieces of fabric and wood. Follow the exact steps as illustrated above and get a good grip on the process. You want your main project to start flawless and finish elegantly.

Work in Sections and Take your Time

How big is your project? The project may be so big that the mod podge or other adhesives of your choice will start to dry out before you can even lay the fabric. Mod podge or other glues of such nature is pretty thin. So these will dry out quite faster than normal glue.

In such cases, it’s a great idea to divide the surface into sections. Start from one side and slowly cover the surface.

Add mod podge to the first section of fabric and wood. Then, do the same with the second section and so on. This will not only prevent the adhesive from drying out early, but it’ll also give you time to rest if the project is big.

At the end of the day, it’s your money, and you don’t want to waste it.

Making Mod Podge At Home

It’s so simple that it feels funny to even write.

  1. Grab a half-pint bottle and pour 6oz of PVA glue
  2. Fill up the rest with water
  3. Shake it for a while, a few minutes tops

There you have it!

Final Words

You should know by now how to attach the fabric to wood. Don’t be impatient. Crafting projects are pieces of art. So it’s not going to work well if you hurry it.

In case you’ve messed up, use acetone to remove the adhesive from the fabric. And always wear a glove and a mask for protection.

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