How to Glue a Puzzle Together & Hang Without a Frame

This tutorial on how to glue a puzzle uses a simple & inexpensive puzzle glue formula (Mod Podge) to preserve the puzzle pieces together permanently. See how to hang puzzles without a frame for inexpensive decor!

wall of puzzles.

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Alright, today's post is a little different than my normal content - but it's a really useful DIY that can actually be used as a pretty (and meaningful) decoration in some of the family spaces of your home!

When the pandemic started, our family passed the time by doing a lot of jigsaw puzzles. It's a fun and inexpensive distraction that, at our kids' ages, the whole family could do. I hated to put all of that work into a puzzle just to tear it apart - so we figured out a way to save them forever!

Since then, we've done a couple dozen puzzles and turned that hard work into a really pretty and unique display in the craft room.

close up of puzzles on a wall.

Gluing the puzzles together is actually a really easy process. You only need a few craft supplies (that you might just already have around your home).

bottle of mod podge and a sponge brush on a puzzle

Supplies needed to Glue a Puzzle Together

  • Mod Podge (the original...the puzzle glue variety is nice but not necessary)
  • A sponge brush that you're prepared to throw away (it gets messy and sticky)
  • A piece of cardboard, foam board, poster board, parchment paper, or wax paper large enough to fit a puzzle

Step 1: Guide puzzle onto poster board.

finished puzzles on a piece of poster board.

If you didn't build the puzzle(s) on the poster board, gently guide your completed puzzle onto the board by sliding it across a table.

(Like this tutorial? Check out my plate gallery wall and foam cornice board posts, too!)

Step 2: Brush Mod Podge onto the front of the puzzle.

mod podge poured on a puzzle.

Pour Mod Podge onto your puzzle and get to brushing over the whole puzzle!

Think of this process kind of like grouting tile. You're trying to get the Mod Podge to fill in the gap between the puzzle pieces as much as possible, with as little as possible on the puzzle's surface. This will bond the puzzle pieces together without making the surface of the puzzle too cloudly.

If you put too much glue on your puzzle, it will take forever to dry and can possibly warp the cardboard of the puzzle. Nobody wants that mess! Less is more...you can always add if needed. For a standard puzzle, about ¼ of a cup of Mod Podge is plenty.

mod podge brushed onto the front of a puzzle.

You can see how it fills the gap between the pieces a little bit more in this picture. As you brush, make sure the thin coat on top of the pieces is even. It's going to be kind of cloudy when wet - it will dry clear as long as it's just a thin coat of adhesive.

If you find yourself with too much excess glue, your can gently brush it off with the sponge brush. Just make sure to keep that coat on the puzzle pieces even.

two finished puzzles on a piece of poster board, covered in mod podge.

Step 3: Apply a second coat of Mod Podge.

Allow the first coat of Mod Podge to dry for 30 minutes to an hour, then apply a second thin layer to make sure all of the gaps in the puzzle pieces are filled.

(If you're in a pinch and don't have a ton of Mod Podge, one coat is fine. The second coat just makes it more sturdy.)

removing a glued puzzle from poster board.

Step 4: Flip puzzle to the back and glue (again).

Once your two front coats are dry, gently use your hand to peel up the puzzle if it has stuck to any part of your work area. Flip the entire puzzle over...

preserved puzzles turned over on poster board.

(Yes I know there's a piece missing. Yes it bothers me.)

spreading mod podge on a puzzle with a sponge brush.

...and follow the same "grout gluing" process on the back of the puzzle. Use your Mod Podge to brush as much as possible in between the pieces on the back, keeping the coats even and thin.

puzzles turned over on a piece of poster board, covered in glue.

Step 5: Apply a second coat to the back and dry.

Allow the first coat of craft glue to dry, then apply a second coat the same way. On the back of the puzzle, you don't have to brush the Mod Podge completely to the edges...that way, the puzzles are less likely to stick to your work surface at the edges.

Let your glued puzzles dry overnight before attempting to hang them.

holding a preserved puzzle.

And that's it! Super simple, right?

glued puzzles lying on a floor.

A Note About Different Types of Glue

Now, if you read any given tutorial on how to glue a puzzle, you'll see a different type of puzzle preservation method used. If you'd really like to buy the special Mod Podge Puzzle Saver glue, go for it - but it's about 3x the price of standard Mod Podge and doesn't really make a significant difference.

Some will suggest using spray-on adhesives. I don't recommend this; it's just really difficult for that spray adhesive to get in the nooks and crannies of the puzzle pieces. You would have to go over the puzzle many, many times to get those pieces to stick together. It sounds easier; don't be fooled! Liquid glue is the way to go.

Another option that does work is using glue sheets. These are super-sticky sheets that go on the back of a puzzle, effectively holding the pieces together. This does work, but it gets pricey; you're going to pay $3-4 per puzzle to use this method. Mod Podge is $4ish per bottle and one bottle will cover dozens of puzzles.

There are plenty of different puzzle gluing methods; this one is the way to go if you're looking for a combination of quality and price.

How to Hang Your Preserved Puzzle

Now, let's display those pretty puzzles!

puzzles hanging on a wall.

These are perfect in a playroom, craft room, or office. We have a whole wall (next to our Murphy bed cabinet) that's dedicated to displaying our finished puzzles. You don't need any kind of frame to display finished puzzles - just stick them on the wall!

showing back of the puzzle with a command strip.

(This picture was waaayy harder to take than I thought it would be - sorry about the quality!)

I use a combination of picture hanging strips and tack putty to hang my finished puzzles. We learned the hard way that the tack putty alone doesn't cut it in our humid climate - we had to pull out the big guns.

diagram of where to place tack putty and adhesive strips to hang a puzzle.

Place a couple of double-sided adhesive strips on the back of your puzzle with the removal tabs pointing up. This way, if you're ever ready to remove the puzzles from the wall, you can gently pull the top of the puzzle back to expose the tabs and remove them without damaging your wall. After the strips, place tack putty in the middle and on the bottom to secure everything to the wall.

How to Glue a Puzzle FAQs

I recommend doing both! Apply 1-2 coats of Mod Podge on the front of the puzzle, allow it to dry, and repeat the process on the back for maximum puzzle durability.

Glued puzzles are great to display in a playroom, craft room, or office. They don't have to be armed to be a really pretty and memorable display piece.

I prefer using plain old Mod Podge craft glue and a sponge brush. There are more expensive puzzle glues out there, but Mod Podge does the trick.

Using this method to glue a puzzle together? I'd love to see it! Tag me on social media (@lambertslately) with your results. 🧩

xo, Leslie - signature at the end of blog post.

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12 Comments

  1. Where did you buy your puzzles? I haven't seen designs like this.

    1. All over the place, but several of these are Dollar Tree puzzles!

  2. Jodi Grunwald says:

    We have also done several puzzles and would love to display them. What do you use to hang your puzzles on the wall?

    1. Just simple sticky tac! I have the kind I use linked in the post.

  3. Gene Stoker says:

    Hello,

    I have been doing puzzles too. I have one that is of flowers and light in colors. My problem is that the puzzle piece lines after the puzzle was completed are very quite noticeable. Is there something I can do to tone these down so I can frame it? Thanks for any help.

    1. You can definitely see the piece lines when I preserve mine; I kind of think it adds to the charm! There is probably some kind of lacquer or varnish you can use to fill in those gaps, I'm just not familiar with it.

  4. I build puzzles and frame them. Started while doing my MBA to relieve the stress. I had a piece missing, I sent a photo to the company of the completed puzzle missing that piece and they mailed it to me free of charge.

    1. Leslie Lambert says:

      Good to know, thanks for the tip!

  5. Jackie Owens says:

    thank but can you hang your finished puzzle on the wall with stick pins on each corner?

    Thanks Jackie

    1. Leslie Lambert says:

      I'm not sure push pins would be long enough to go through a puzzle and securely into the wall.

  6. Can this method, Mod Podge, be used on wooden puzzles?

    1. Leslie Lambert says:

      Yes! Wood is usually heavier than a cardboard puzzle, so the wooden ones might require more coats of mod podge.