DIY Pallet Photo Frames with Mod Podge Photo Transfer

I have included my Amazon affiliate link for your convenience.

If you’re anything like me you have approximately 1.4 million digital images stored somewhere that have never seen the light of day. And it’s a shame really, isn’t it!

That’s why I knew exactly what I would do when I found out I got to work with Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium. It was time to bring some of those photos out into the light.



Of course, since I work with wood on a daily basis it only made sense for me to transfer these photos to wood. We made these wooden frames from pallet wood. Three boards wide with strips of pallet wood on the back to hold it all together. I left the wood natural so the aging and patina you see here occurred all by itself. Beautiful, isn’t it!

I used these photos that I took at a birthday party almost a year ago. I took the digital files to Office Max and had them print me color copies on regular copy paper – MUST BE LASER PRINTS, NOT INKJET. Be sure to have them reverse (mirror-image) your photo or graphic, especially if it has words or letters. It will come out backward otherwise. I trimmed the photos down to get rid of any white edges as the medium is not transparent.

Now it’s time to get to work!

Looks a little scary at first. You apply enough medium to completely cover your photo copy until you can no longer see any of the photo through the medium.

See! It almost disappears against the white background. Once you’ve coated it completely it’s time to apply it to your surface. Make sure to press gently from the center out to remove any air bubbles.

And now, you wait! This is the absolute hardest part. From here, you must let it sit for 24 hours to cure before removing the paper.

After you’ve waited 24 hours for the medium to cure it’s time to remove the paper. Place a damp towel or sponge over the paper and let it sit for 2 minutes.

Now it’s time to gently rub the paper away from your image being careful not to press too hard and remove part of your image.

Rub in a circular motion until all of the paper has been removed.

Have a dust pan on hand!

Now. I told you before to rub gently so as not to accidentally remove any of your image. But being me, I actually want to remove some of the image. I was going for more of a rugged look so while I was careful around their faces I purposefully rubbed some of the image away, especially where the wooden slats came together. And then I went back with a sanding block and rounded off the edges of each image a bit.

I especially like the more rustic look here! I think it works nicely with the old door in the background.

And finally, I sealed each of the images with my Matte Mod Podge, which I ALWAYS have on hand and use for everything.

You can find Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium at your local craft store you can pick it up right here: Mod Podge CS15067 8-Ounce Photo Transfer, Medium.

And there you have it! It’s as easy as that to get some of those photos out of your computer and onto your walls. Or any other place you’d like to put them since you can use this medium on fabric, glass, metal, wood and terra cots pots (I know this because I also made some lovely pots, too!).


* indicates required
Email Format


  1. says

    Great project!!

    You don’t specifically say, but it looks like you position the photo image face down on the wood after coating with the transfer medium, right? So the finished product is actually the mirror image of the original photo?

    • says

      Hi Wendy,

      Actually you could have them print a mirror image (or reverse image) for you so that once it’s done the transfer looks exactly as the original. You would have to do this if your image contained words. Thank you!

  2. says

    As always, I love your project. And I also love the terra-cotta pots. I think I’m going to have to make me up a batch of those. They’d make a nice addition to my deck and my booth, too.

  3. says

    Awesome tutorial…I have some old barn wood, I will be trying this with. I am a new blogger and would love it if you checked out my blog and tell me what you think. I rent a space at a local Antique Mall in Northern California with a focus on painting vintage previously loved furniture. I love chalk paint and usually make my own custom chalk paint. 😉

    Thanks a ton!


    • Elayne says

      Where can I find wood pieces to work with? Also, another site mentioned modpodge and another ingredient

      This will be my first time to try it.

      Can someone help me.



      • jamie says

        Hi Elanyne,

        You could try your local hobby or craft stores for wooden plaques to try this one. It also works on fabric so you could choose an canvas instead and make it look like painting!

        I’m not sure what the other site mentions but what I used here is Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium to do the actual transfer. Then I used Mod Podge in Matte to seal once dry. Hope this helps!

  4. says

    Hi, Does the ModPodge leave the item tacky?
    I used modpodge to seal a collage book cover and it remained tacky and sticks to everything, even to the point where it has damaged the carefully done collage. I am so disappointed as I had heard so much good stuff about he product. Are you able to help restore my faith in it?

    • says

      HI Dee,

      I am so sorry I missed your question earlier. Some Mod Podge needs a coating of clear spray sealer to prevent tackiness, it really depends on the kind of Mod Podge you are using – i.e. Matte vs Glossy, etc. If I’m decoupaging something that will come in contact with other things (for example, it’s not hanging on a wall remaining untouched) as it sounds your collage did, I would spray it with a clear sealer. The pics I did in this post were sealed with the Matte Mod Podge and did not require a spray sealer. Hope this helps!

      • jamie says

        In terms of the glue to seal it? I haven’t heard of PVA so I can say on that. I know that it wouldn’t have quite the same look with a regular white (or school) glue as that’s too watery. So I’d say any thicker glue used for sealing paper should work. I prefer Mod Podge because of it’s trusted results and I also like Decou-Page from DecoArt. Hope that helps!

    • jamie says

      Did she try it on wood? If so, was it shiny? I haven’t had that happen before but I’d be glad to offer some advice if you’d like to give me some more details.

    • jamie says

      You should only do this with a map if you can print it in mirror image. If it’s a pre printed map and you try this it will be backwards. Does that make sense? So, be sure whatever your image is it is a mirror image. If there are words on the image the words should be backwards on the image you wish to transfer so that once they are transfered they will no longer be backwards. What you are doing here is literally transferring the ink in the image and then washing away the paper. If you already have a printed map you’d like to use your best bet would be to use original mod podge and glue it directly onto the surface. Hope this helps!

      • Elayne Hassen says


        It’s Elayne once again. Please do I need to use medium gel first, the face the pic down overnight. Then out the mod podge on top of pic after the paper is peeled off?

        Or can I just use mod podge photo transfer?

        Please once again help. Step by step.

        Thanks and sorry.

  5. Melissa says

    What kind of copy did you make? Was it laser printer or an inkjet printer? I just tried this with an inkjet and the colors came out awful.

    • jamie says

      I am sorry Melissa! I have always thought I addressed this in my post but it must be a LASER PRINT as per the package directions in order for it to work. I have updated my post to include this. Thank you for making me realize I neglected a very important detail. I hope you’ll try it again!

      • Melissa says

        So, failure #2. Don’t try this on a painted canvas. The paint will bubble off. :( On the plus side, the laser copy worked great (well, until the it came off with the bubbling craft paint…d’oh!). On to experiment #3.

  6. Stephanie says

    Beautiful work! I would love to try it with some of my wedding photos. Can you speak a little more to how you prepared the wood? Is it sealed with anything before or after? I saw that you sanded it down but did you do anything else to it? Thanks so much!

    • jamie says

      Hi Stephanie,

      Thanks! I did not prep the wood aside from sanding and I sealed it with a matte Mod Podge. Hope that helps!

      • Stephanie says

        Thanks! Very helpful. So you just covered the entire wood piece in Matte Modge Podge, not just over the image?

        Also, one other question as I was looking at it… I noticed one of your photos, the one with the white door, obviously has white in it. Does that mean the lazer printers print white ink on paper? Otherwise, the white door wouldn’t show but instead reveal the brown wood of the pallet because there isn’t any white ink on the paper. Does this make sense?

        • jamie says

          Personally I just covered the image itself. Even though it is Matte Mod Podge you’d still see it on the wood. If you don’t want that, just cover the image and not the “frame” around it. Your second question is a great question and the answer is while this medium does transfer ink (colors), it is also not clear when it dries. It dries white. So the white door in my image is actually the medium you just can’t tell that because of the shadowing (from the black color) that gives it dimension, on top of that. Hopefully that makes sense. Long story short, you will be fine if you image has something white in it! 😉

      • Elayne says


        I thought u need to use the medium gel first, then face the photo down then let it dry over night. Then use mod podge.

        Is this correct? If not, please step by step. I’m new at this.

        Thank you,


      • Elayne says


        I thought u need to use the medium gel first, then face the photo down then let it dry over night. Then use mod podge.
        I’m new at this.
        Thank you,


  7. Vickie Jones says

    I tried doing the photo on canvas, put mod podge on the canvas. Let dry over night. Got the paper wet & started rubbing the paper off, but was unable to get all the paper off without taking the picture off with it. I let it dry & the picture came out hazy. tried with a layer of Mod Podge to make it look better. Now it look like an old painting. How do I get all the paper off without making holes in the picture?

    • jamie says

      Hi Vickie! Correct me if I’m wrong but did you put the mod podge transfer medium onto the canvas and then the pic on top of the mod podge transfer medium? If so, you would need to put the mod podge onto the photo and then the photo onto the canvas. Correct me if I am misunderstanding.

      Either way it sounds like you could have rubbed too hard. I try to completely saturate my paper before rubbing so that I barely have to rub. I’ll put it like this, the other day I did a transfer onto towels (not terry cloth) and instead of rubbing myself I just tossed them in the washing machine. They’ve been washed several times now with my other towels (including bleach) which I DO NOT recommend but I mention it because this stuff really does hold up. The other thing I would say is how thickly did you apply the mod podge transfer medium? It should be around 1/4″ thick. If applied too thinly that could also cause the holes. Let me know if this was helpful and good luck!

    • jamie says

      Mod Podge makes an outdoor sealer! You could always seal your piece with that for outdoors after you got done with the transfer. Have fun!

  8. devin says

    I adore this project, what size of photo and pallet framing are you using? I have tried this but I was having issues with rubbing the photo off, I did place mine in the oven on the lowest temperature to speed up the drying process, so that might have been the cause of the issue.

    • jamie says

      My frames are 10 1/2″ x 14 which is basically the width of three pallet boards. I based my photo size on the frame size and chose to go with 6 1/2 x 10″ photos to keep the look proportionate. I definitely wouldn’t try speeding up the drying process. That could definitely have been the issue. Be sure to to give them the full 24 hrs to cure. Also, make sure your medium is 1/4″ thick and that you don’t rub too hard when removing the paper. Good luck!

  9. Diana says

    I am so glad to have found your terrific tutorial on photo transfer!! I have a project that involves doing a photo transfer on the back of a terrarium and on the outside. This will create a background image when viewing the terrarium from the front. The terrarium is actually a round glass canister. I have been concerned about the photo transfer holding up being on the outside and possibly subject to being handled if the terrarium is moved around. It seemed to me that the photo transfer should be sealed after it is complete to better protect it. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any tutorials that address using a sealant as the final step until finding yours. The others just take you through removing the paper backing and that’s that.

    Would you recommend using Mod Podge or a spray sealant for my project? Whatever sealant you recommend, should it be applied while the transfer is still wet from removing the paper backing or allowed to dry first? Thank you in advance!

    • jamie says

      Honestly I wouldn’t seal it at all. I’m not sure how it will work on glass, it may work great. I would test it on something less important first. If it is successful there’s really no need to seal it. I did a transfer on bathroom towels and launder them normally (with bleach!) and they hold up just fine. For future reference though, when you do seal a transfer it is best to wait for it to dry and I typically use mod podge in matte to seal.

  10. Helen says


    This is great and will be doing on some wood pieces. You said you are not sure about glass, would the same go for metal? – ie non porous compared to wood, canvas or pottery.

    My first encounter with mod podge – bottles ordered….

    Thanks for the tutorial

  11. Nett says

    Hey Love this tutorial and would love to try but they don’t sell mod podge where i live. Is there another alternative you could suggest?

    Thanks in advance

    • jamie says

      Gee I’m not sure! I would say look for any other photo transfer medium available in your area. You can also achieve this with a gel medium. I would definitely do a trial run first before starting on your main project. Good luck!

  12. Ana says

    Absolutely love this idea and your frames look gorgeous!

    Have you tried other medium brands such as Liquitex and Golden? If so, which of the 3 did you like the best? All are found in our local craft store and I’m a bit confused as to which I should purchase.

    Thanks so much for sharing. Can’t wait to try it!

    • jamie says

      I have tried other brands. I definitely prefer the Mod Podge to Liquitex or Golden. As an artist I have used them both and while they have their merits I would not suggest them for this project. Hope that helps!

  13. megpie says

    HELP!! so after rubbing the paper off, which isnt working very well but practice makes perfect< do i seal it with mod podge right away or do i need to let it dry first then seal it?

    • jamie says

      Yes, let you project dry. Be sure that you’ve gotten off all of the paper and then seal with your general purpose Mod Podge.

  14. Shayna says

    How amazing is this! I’m always giving photos as gifts and this is an awesome way to change it up a bit! I can’t wait to try :)! Two questions, though- it looks in your picture as if you had it completely covered with the towel before you started removing the paper. Did you do that just for the tutorial or is that a something that needs to be done? And 2nd, does your towel need to be damp when removing the paper? Thanks so much!

    • jamie says

      I saturated the towel, not too wet but damp, and placed it over each picture to let it thoroughly soak through the paper. Then I used the same damp towel to gently rub away the paper. I find this is the easiest method. Hope that helps! Thanks!

    • jamie says

      You could stain around the picture after it’s all dried and sealed. Or you could stain and allow that to dry completely and then do the transfer. I think that’d look great!

      • Fellix says

        Hi there,

        This a brilliant idea, thank you for posting this tutorial.

        However, I have a doubt. You said that you cover the picture with mod podge. On your first pics I see Mod Podge (which type?) and then, when you cover the pic after removing the paper with the wet towel, you sealed it with Matte Mod Podge.

        So, basically, to “glue” it to the canvas, which mod podge type do you use? And then, after, to seal it, you use the Matte? You use two types? Or can you simply use Matte mod podge on both processes.


        • jamie says

          For the transfer you will use: Mod Podge Photo Transfer Medium
          For sealing the piece once it’s dry, if desired, you will use: regular Mod Podge in any sheen of your choice.

  15. Lou says

    Hi Jamie,
    beautiful work!

    Could you please tell me why the background color of the wood doesn’t show? I’ve done a lot of transferring, but usually in the end the areas that are white on the print are rubbed off completely (no color) and the background can be seen. Not so in your transfers. Why???

    Thank you so much,

  16. says

    Hi Jamie,
    I found it was a good idea for a gift for my father. I did all the step of this project except the final one (add Matte Medium for a nice finish and protection). The reason why I have not finish is because I’m not satisfy right now, because after removing almost of the paper, there is a paper residue remaining on the image (into small wood cavities) and If I scratch too hard it start to peel of, so I’m wandering what is possible to do to recover my project. Cause when its wet, everything is more contrast and detailed, but when it dry it become white like paper. Do you have an idea of what I should do now ?
    Thank you for your help !

    • jamie says

      It needs a sealer to give it a finished looked. That’s why you notice that the contrast and detail stands out when wet. Once you seal it (and you could use matte or glossy, up to you) it look more finished. It’ll have kind of a “fuzzy” look until you seal it.

  17. says

    Hi Jamie, This is the post that drew me to your site today. Thank you for the great tutorial! I am excited to try this project and your step by step info will help, as well as your very patient, detailed responses to the many comments. I have wanted to do some pallet projects but haven’t found a good place to get pallets because I have been under the impression that the pallets behind stores and other businesses belong to the business. If you addressed this in the post, I missed it and apologize. Suggestions?
    Thank you again.

    • jamie says

      Hi Cindi!

      I’m glad you found my blog and stopped for a visit. I always ask prior to taking pallets because, as you mentioned, they do belong to the store and many stores reuse their pallets. I typically get mine from a paint store next to my husband’s business. They dump them out in the trash and were fair game. Of course before taking them I asked first. From there I was welcome to take them any time I liked. These pallets work particularly well because they are used for transporting paint (because it’s so heavy) but not perishables so it isn’t treated. Therefore I can rely on the safety of using this wood. Many businesses do toss their pallets and are happy for you take them once you ask permission. Some may require you purchase them but they’re usually only around $1 or $2 so totally worth it. Hope that helps! Look forward to you visiting again soon!

    • jamie says

      Hi Ann,

      It has to be a laser print. Something about how the ink from the toner and the transfer medium work together. It will not work with an inkjet print. Sorry. That’s true of most, if not all, transfer mediums not just this one. If you have a local print shop with a laser printer it shouldn’t cost much to have them printed there and well worth it.

  18. R says

    So cute.
    However – so many advertisements popping up while reading your page I was annoyed and quit reading. Is this my computer’s problem or is there something you can do??

    • jamie says

      I’m sorry to hear that but it’s hard to say without more information. If you wouldn’t mind, it would help me if you were to tell me how you were browsing (mobile or PC) and what kind of pop ups you are seeing. I don’t have any advertisements on my site that should effect the readability of a post. Thanks!

  19. Lori says

    Will this work with actual (ordered photo processing) photograph? I ordered versus having it printed as I only have B/W ink in our inkjet and wasn’t sure photo paper would work in it. Wondering why it wouldn’t work with an inkjet, smearing the ink maybe? I’m anxious to try this since I up-cycle pallet wood and have some serving trays to make. The wax paper image transfer hasn’t worked well.

    • jamie says

      Hi Lori,
      You definitely don’t want to use photos or photo paper. Just a laser jet (NOT INKJET) image on regular printer paper. In other words, you could go by your local copiers, take the digital image file with you on a USB drive or mail it to them, and have them print you a colored copy of the image on plain (regular) copy paper. I would also suggest practicing the technique prior to applying it to something important. Hope this helps!

      • Lori says

        Bummer! Luckily I only paid $5+ for the order. I’ll need to find someone who can print this for me as I’m pretty sure our office Laser printer only prints in B/W…ugh. I tried the wax paper method, and it’s normally pretty successful for me, but, as you know, pallet wood comes in all varieties, colors and textures. The latest attempts haven’t been good enough for my sales pieces. Back to the drawing board! Appreciate the reply!

          • Lori says

            Ordered copies from UPS here locally. Now having problems finding the gel medium. Supposed to have it at Wal-Mart, but tried to find it and wasn’t successful. Hobby Lobby probably has it, but it’s a two-hour drive. Ugh…always something!

          • Lori says

            I found some Liquitex Super Heavy Matt Gel Medium….I assume this will work? Checking both Amazon and Hobby Lobby on-line too. Thanks for the help! I’m making three pallet serving trays for a woman and couldn’t get the wax paper transfer to look good enough. So, figured this was the way to go!

          • jamie says

            It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with the Liquitex for that so I can’t speak to that. Good luck!

  20. Debbie says

    Jamie, thank you for this tutorial. I love it! I have made this as a birthday gift for my aunt and am at the stage where I have removed all the paper. But my colors are a little muted and I would like to know if there is a sealer (or the matte mod podge) that will brighten the colors. I have the matte mod podge to put on it but definitely do not want to dull the colors any more. What is your opinion on my next step? Thank you…..

    • jamie says

      Hi Debbie
      I think anytime you’re doing a transfer you use a little color. You’re basically making a copy of a copy. The muted tones worked well for my project since I was putting it on worn wood. That’s why I chose to use the Matte Mod Podge. I would suggest for your project to use the Gloss Mod Podge. It won’t “add color”, per se, but it will give you extra light and dimension and that may give the illusion of depth of color. Hope this helps!

    • jamie says

      Mine wasn’t extremely smooth. I liked it a little bumpy as it gave the photo some texture. As long as you’re sure to press down evenly and gently once you apply the photo to the wood you should get great results. However, if you’re going for super smooth I would suggest using something other than pallet wood any other wood with texture.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *