After completing a jigsaw puzzle, you have a few options moving forward. One of the best ways to appreciate a puzzle is to put it together again and again! Scramble and stash it away or offer it to someone new, passing along the fun of the project. Or, preserve your work by gluing, mounting, and framing it!
We enjoy this preservation process because it's a way for you to display your hard work in a piece of art. Moreover, it's easy and affordable! Follow our process below and learn how to turn your puzzle into a single, seamless canvas.
Prepare Your Workspace
Fully clear your work area and check that you have a cover between your puzzle and the surface, extending a few inches on either side. The cover will ensure that your puzzle doesn't stick to the surface during the gluing process.
Insider Tip: two good cover materials are wax and parchment paper.
If you hadn't already placed a cover underneath your puzzle before you began, this can be tricky. You may be able to shimmy the paper underneath without disturbing the puzzle. If not, find another large surface — such as a piece of cardboard — and temporarily slide the puzzle onto it while you place down a cover. This process is easier with two or more people.
Note: while you can use newspaper — and it's a product that many will reach for in this situation — we don't recommend it. Newspaper is much more likely to stick to the puzzle or work surface, and could ruin your project if not managed carefully.
Brush any lint and dirt from your puzzle and get it as flat as you can. A rolling pin or similar object can help!
There are many different types of glues that people use on their puzzles. While spray and powder glues exist, liquid glue works best. It spreads easily, is generally less expensive, and won't require extra mixing.
If you can, pick up Mod Podge, a dedicated craft glue. As opposed to regular glue, puzzle glue combines an adhesive with a lacquer. It not only holds the puzzle together, it provides a protective gloss finish that dries clear every time.
Start pouring! Get some glue on your puzzle and spread it as evenly as you can. You have a few options for spreading tools: a plastic paddle, a piece of cardboard, a business card, a sponge, or a brush. Make sure to seal the edges as well. Some puzzle glues come with an applicator that help with that specifically.
Be careful — don’t be too aggressive. There's a chance you can break the puzzle or cause it to swell. While you do need to cover every piece, you won’t need too much glue. An excess amount can cause the pieces to curl after drying.
Air bubbles may form as you coat, but these will disappear as the glue dries. Give time for this drying process.
Insider Tip: depending on the glue, it can take up to 5 hours to fully set and develop a seal.
If your puzzle's edges flare up, flip it over once dry and apply another coat of glue to the back. This generally solves curled edges. Alternatively, cover the puzzle and weigh it down flat overnight.
Now that your puzzle is one solid piece, you need to mount it to a foam board before framing. If you continue without this step, your puzzle may fall apart or warp after a period of time.
Choose your frame before mounting! Some frames may be inset and cover an outer area of the puzzle if you don't extend the mounting board beyond the edges. You need to properly measure how far to extend the board, and the size of board to buy, if this is the case.
Loosen the puzzle from the cover paper and place it design-side-up on your board. Mark the outline of the puzzle using a pencil. If you don't need to extend your board any further to fit your frame, you can cut along this outline using a hobby knife. If you do need to extend the board, this can help you align the puzzle as you glue it down later. In this case: measure out how far you need to extend the board, mark that larger outline, and cut.
Cover the board with glue, where you'll be placing your puzzle down. While you don't need to spread this out, be sure to get an even coating. Line up your puzzle and place it down, gently pressing while making sure you don't alter the alignment.
Place a few heavy objects to ensure total, flat coverage between the puzzle and the board. Let this dry completely — it's best to give it 24 hours.
Once the puzzle and mounting material are fully sealed and dry, place them in your frame. This is the easiest stage of the process — simply lock it in using whatever method the frame calls for. Afterwards, trim any excess foam as needed.
Hang your puzzle and admire your hard work!