Inlaid Wood Tiles

Inlaid Wood Tiles-1








Inlaid Wood Tiles-2Though the technique is centuries old, inlaid wood has a trendy appeal

that is equally at home with all decorating styles – from traditional to contemporary, casual to formal. However, because of the skilled craftsmanship involved, the cost for an inlaid wood table is often beyond the means of appreciating homeowners.

An authentic inlaid wood coffee table typically costs between $1,000 and $4,000, or even more. Obviously, larger tables, such as dining tables are even more expensive.

What if you could create the look for under $15? With these

instructions, you can!


  •  Any size wood or laminate table
  •  Paper napkins with a wood-colored design
  •  Scissors
  •  Decoupage medium (We recommend

Inlaid Wood Tiles-3Mod Podge by Plaid Enterprises. You’ll use less than half of an 8 oz. jar, but it’s a far better value to buy a larger size and save it for other projects.)

  •  Paint brush (1”-2” household) or sponge brush
  •  Waterproof polyurethane










Inlaid Wood Tiles-4TIME NEEDED:

About an hour start to finish, depending on table size (includes drying)


1. Select a package of decorative paper napkins with a wood-colored design. You can select napkins in neutral, solid colors to simulate solid wooden tiles, or choose a design such as this one (photo #1) to give the impression that a design has been burnished into the wood tile.

Make sure there is a contrast in color between the napkin and the table.

2. Decide which portion of the napkin you will use for a “tile” and cut it out (photo #2). Remove all extra layers so that only the top “ply” with the design remains.

3. This technique can be applied to any wood or laminate table, but don’t use a natural wood table that you don’t want to varnish. If you’re working with a laminate table, before you begin decoupaging the napkins, just make sure the surface is clean from dirt, dust, and stains. If you are working with a natural wood table, brush the entire table with one coat of polyurethane varnish before you begin decoupaging. This serves two purposes: it protects the original finish and also will make the napkin“tiles” adhere smoothly.

Crafty Clue

Polyurethane comes in several finishes. Depending on the brand you’re using, you usually can select from glossy,semi-gloss (also called “satin”) or matte finishes. Even if you are working with a laminate table, you still need to decide on your preferred polyurethane finish, because you’ll be varnishing the entire surface of the project when you have adhered all the tiles.

The table shown in these photographs was varnished with a glossy finish to highlight the faux tiles in natural sunlight and give the wood a polished sheen.

4. Determine how you want to arrange the “tiles” on the table. In this example, the napkins are placed in a diagonal line going from one corner of the table to the opposite corner.

(photo #4). (Note: If your table is round or oval in shape, it works well to place the “tiles” in a hexagon or octagon shape centered in the middle of the tabletop.)

5. With the paint brush or sponge brush, apply Mod Podge directly to the table in the shape of the first “tile” you will be placing (photo #5).

You can “eyeball” this – it’s not necessary to measure the area for the “tile” exactly, since the Mod Podge dries clear.

6. Place the napkin “tile” over the area with Mod Podge, starting at one edge and slowly laying the napkin down to cover the entire area (photo #6). The single ply napkin will be quite flimsy, so lay it down slowly and gently.

Inlaid Wood Tiles-57. Once it is down on the table, gently tap across the surface of the napkin to make sure

it is adhered smoothly to the table (photo #7).

Do not rub the napkin, or it will tear. Instead,just apply moderate pressure by tapping your

finger directly up and down.

8. Make sure that all the edges of the napkin are glued down to the table. If there are any loose edges, all you need to do is add a bit of Mod Podge on the table underneath the loose edge. To avoid tearing the napkin, do not brush Mod Podge directly on top of the napkin at this point. If a napkin DOES tear, just peel it

off and start fresh with a new one.

Again, don’t worry if there is a bit of excess Mod Podge on the table outside of where the napkin is – the Mod Podge will dry clear.

9. After making sure that all edges are securely glued to the table, repeat these steps to glue down the rest of the “tiles”, until the design is complete (photo #9).

10. Allow the Mod Podge to dry for about 20 minutes.

11. Once the Mod Podge is dry, the napkins won’t tear when you brush over them again. Coat the entire table with at least one coat of polyurethane varnish using long, broad strokes.

Crafty Clue

As you apply the polyurethane, keep your eye out for “dry” areas on the table to ensure that you don’t miss any spots. A professional-looking varnish job is one that is evenly covered, with no “missed” spots. You can add a second coat of polyurethane to ensure smooth coverage. This is also a good idea if the table will receive a lot of activity, such as is the case with a dining table. Be sure to wait at least half an hour in between the first and second

coat of varnish.

9.Voila! You have an inlaid wood table! Pretty easy, huh?

Like the technique but don’t have a table handy? Here are some other great

places you can use the faux inlaid wood technique:

Like the technique but don’t have a table handy? Here are some other great

places you can use the faux inlaid wood technique:

  • Bathroom/kitchen cabinets
  • Dining room chairs
  • Microwave carts
  • Wood or laminate floors
  • Kitchen islands – Dressers
  • Wood doors
  • Entertainment centers
  • Armoires
  • Wood windowsills
  • Wood curtain rods
  • Headboards
  • Wood boxes
  • Wood panelling on walls
  • Baseboards/trim
  • Bookshelves
  • Desks
  • Closets

You can use the above technique, also called decoupaging, to apply a single ply

napkin to other surfaces besides wood for a variety of looks.

Instructions from Quick & Stylish Decorative Crafts – E-book





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