If you’re looking for a way to dress up your refinished furniture projects, then adding furniture appliques is exactly what you are looking for.
In this post we are going to cover everything you need to know about Furniture Appliques, what they are, when you should use them, how to use them, and even some different variations such as Efex Appliques.
But first things first, you may be wondering “What exactly are furniture appliques?”.
What Are Furniture Appliques?
Furniture appliques are 3-dimensional forms that can be used to enhance our projects and make them more interesting! In addition to using them on furniture, you can also use appliques on DIY Signs, mirrors, lamps, or any other DIY home decor you can possibly think of!! Find more in my Ultimate Guide to Furniture Painting!
What are furniture appliques made from?
They can literally be made of just about anything you can imagine. Appliques come in a huge variety of materials that each have their personal perks! Lets take a look at some of the most widely used types of appliques and be sure to stick with me till the end! I’ll be sharing my favorite appliques! (They are amazing!)
Wood furniture appliques are the classic go to option! These are going to be carved or pressed from solid or ply wood. Stainable and paintable, they can really be treated like any other wood you use. These can be applied by wood glue then clamped or you can also use a brad nailer. See how I used them to embellish a boring buffet in Applying a Wood Applique to a Buffet. You can find them in a HUGE assortment of looks and styles. Many can be found right here on Amazon (aflink). Lets look at the pros and cons.
Wood Applique Pros
Wood Applique Cons
- VERY Limited flexibility
- Often has a very rough texture
Efex bendable moldings and appliques are a genuinely unique product! With many historically accurate designs, you could literally get lost in their catalog! Made from a rubber-like material they can very easily be bent and used on non-flat surfaces.
Trimming them is just a matter of pulling out your scissors or knife! Application is incredibly easy. They can be adhered with rubber cement or DAP Rapid Fuse, then taped or held in place. You can see exactly how I used them to embellish an old chest of drawers at the bottom of this post.
Want to get your own? You can check out some really well-priced Efex Appliques on Amazon. Many furniture paint stores carry them though, so check around and you may find quite a few! Now, let’s look at the pros and cons.
Efex Applique Pros
- Very Bendable
Efex Applique Cons
- Not Stainable (distressed looks take artistic finesse)
- Not Sandable
DIY Furniture Appliques
Now, this is an entirely extra art form in itself. Companies like Prima have created molds that allow you to create the appliques yourself! By the mold one time, and you can make as many appliques as you like! Personally, I just don’t have the patience.
There are, however, MANY who LOVE to make their own appliquÃ©s and apply them to everything they can! The molds are made of a silicone material and while Prima also makes the product you put in the molds to create the appliques, many use all sorts of products such as glue from a hot glue gun, resin, and paper clay.
You can find lots of molds and other products here on Amazon. I have no personal articles on this one,.. maybe I will do one soon though! Until then, let’s look at the pros and cons.
DIY Applique Pros
- *Can be economical if you want to use a LOT of them
- *Bendable (depending on product used and application technique)
DIY Applique Cons
- Not Stainable (distressed looks take artistic finesse)
- Not Sandable
- Takes PATIENCE
WoodUBend “Wood Appliques”
Ok, so these are hands down, unashamedly my favorite appliques. Based in the UK and taking the US by storm, they are made from a wood product that is paintable, stainable, cuttable, sandable, and yes bendable.
Treat them just as you would any wood product except, additionally you can bend them and mold them using a heat gun or hair dryer! Recommended application is with wood glue.
They come in incredibly ornate designs and even some crazy tiny and intricate ones! See how I used them (including a video talk through!) in Painting a Wood Vanity Currently you can find the largest inventory I know of through one of my favorite online retailers Jan of Flipped Furniture of Kentucky here (aflink)
- They could break? But even that isn’t much of a con, because they can be glued right back together seamlessly.
Using Furniture Appliques On a Real Project
In the below projet, I use Efex Furniture Appliques on a dresser that I refinished. The appliques that I chose flow really well with the handles and hardware that I chose for the dresser and add an extra 3 dimensional layer to piece that really makes it stand out.
Products I will be talking about and using:
Below is the dresser that I am fixing up, painting, and applying the Efex Furniture Appliques to.
Looks like a clean slate huh? Oh, but this canvas is far from clean… its been painted in thick latex paint that has sealed the drawers shut and the paint itself is not smooth and has all sorts of crud in it… It looks great from a distance, but it’s a real project.
It’s going to take some serious patience to get this guy whipped into shape! Just look at that leg!
The beautiful cabriolet legs were no more, and obviously the broken pieces were long gone.
To start, this piece was going to need to be completely stripped down and I had to get creative with those legs!
I wondered if I could just take what still existed and create a different tapered style of leg. It would be scary because I needed to of course keep the integrity in tact as well. As we can already see, a cute leg is not good if it’s broken!
To my amazement, it worked pretty darn good!!
So the next phase was sanding everything down smooth and mostly to the bare wood and then applying a couple of coats of white pigmented shellac.
I knew they since I wanted a light color, and I had sanded into the wood, we would be vulnerable to bleed! The shellac would do a good job of keeping it at bay, and by choosing to paint with nonporous paint products, I wouldn’t be pushing it.
Applying Efex Appliques to my furniture
Today, among many other things, I will be applying an Efex Applique to a dresser that is in serious need of rescuing. They will work perfectly with your favorite paints to create the project of your dreams! I will be attempting to create a lovely feel consistent from existing hardware and embellishments as well as the new Efex Appliques.
For the bottom I chose Efex Applique P8
and I decided to add to the drawer area as well with E6 Efex Appliques
My client had a unique look in mind for the hardware and I was excited to tackle it. This is her inspiration photo from The Decorated House
We did have to modify our version a tad to match the tone of the paint color she chose for the dresser, but I think the feel turned out gorgeous! Here you can see the real hardware in comparison to the appliques that I finished to look similar.
We have come so far!! Next I needed to get it painted. I decided to use Benjamin Moore Advance Paint for a perfect classic finish. I used my Homeright Finish Max and applied 3 thin coats over the whole thing. Finally its time to apply the appliques!
Rapid Fuse is the adhesive of choice! It works fast, but not too fast, and is great for the Efex material. After dry-fitting the appliques on the dresser, I flipped them over and applied the Rapid Fuse to the appliques.
I was certain to add it to any spot I knew would touch the dresser. Rapid Fuse does allow you enough time to apply and shift your piece, so don’t worry if it’s not immediately in place. Breathe, and get it corrected.
I was really impressed with how solid they felt! I had worried they would feel flimsy but I was completely wrong.
I decided to take my modern masters and create a faded stencil effect on the sides of the drawers! It’s just the most subtle pop that wouldn’t be over bearing and instead created a timeless touch.
I love how all the details came together, both old and new. The Efex Appliques were perfect for the bowed front. I never have to worry about them pulling away since they mold directly to the surface.
Wrapping Up Furniutre Appliques
Hopefully this post not only taught you exactly what furniture appliques are, but about the different styles, when to use them and how to apply them.
Want to see even more projects like this and learn all about painting and furniture refinishing, check out our Youtube Channel DIY Painting and Refinishing!