Map Coasters and Memories

Picture this: new home, new coffee table. What’s missing? New coasters.

Yes, coasters, very important.

I saw lots of fun coaster tutorials online, but was really struck by these map coasters I saw from the San Francisco Chronicle.

Being me, I couldn’t just use any old map. No, I live for making things more difficult. I decided to use special maps, i.e. maps I had saved from past travels. They were in the closet anyway and free.

It ended up being pretty fun. The husband and I picked out our favorites together which included something from our first trip together, our honeymoon, and several other happy vacations.


You will need:

  • Coasters to be covered. Anything coaster-shaped would also work well.
  • Maps
  • Mod Podge
  • Foam brush
  • Scissors
  • Spray enamel

These can be made in any shape using any coasters you can find. I found these monogram coasters in the dollar bin at Michael’s and bought a bunch.

Map Coasters 3

Assembly Line

Start by tracing the coaster shape onto your maps and cutting them out.

Take a moment to lay the piece on top of the coaster and trim off bits of excess as necessary.

Map Coasters 4

Using Mod Podge, glue the shapes to the coasters. I used Hard Coat Mod Podge because I wanted the coasters to be durable.

Important note: spread the Mod Podge on the coaster, then press the shape down. If you put the Mod Podge on the shape first, there is a greater chance of bubbles forming and paper curling.

Map Coasters 5

Using this method, you have a lot more control placing the shape on the coaster.

Map Coasters 6

Leave the coasters to dry for at least an hour. Then apply a thin coat of Mod Podge to the top of each coaster. Let that dry for 20 minutes, then add a second coat.

Let these sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

Map Coasters 7

Bringing in Reinforcements

I checked with Amy at Mod Podge Rocks to see if two coats of Mod Podge would make the coasters durable enough. She suggested adding a layer of spray enamel to ensure absolute waterproofing.

Spray enamel is like clear spray paint and can be found pretty cheap at the hardware store.

Spray your coasters using the same sensibility you would to spray paint something: stay at least a foot away and use an even hand or else the spray will puddle up on the coaster.

They’ll dry to the touch in an hour and you can pick them up and bring them inside.  Let these dry for a day inside (to be on the safe side).

Map Coasters 8

Durability Testing

I had to be sure with this. I set an icy drink on one of the coasters for several hours. Victory! They are indeed waterproof.

Map Coasters 13


Bowing – If the coasters are thin, they may bow after you glue the shapes to them. Set the coasters under a pile of heavy books for a couple of days and they will return to flatness.

Bubbles – Even when I had smoothed the shape out while gluing, sometimes I would return to find a bubble or two after they had dried. Don’t sweat it. The bubbles mysteriously went away after I added the top coats of Mod Podge.

Trimming – If the shape hangs slightly over the edge of the coaster, trim it before gluing. I’ve not had success trying to press or glue down any overhanging paper onto the sides of the coaster.

When in doubt, leave it alone and don’t touch it. Instead of trying to fix the bubbles, I left them alone and went on with the project. They disappeared and I’m glad I didn’t try something drastic. I sprayed one of the coasters with too much enamel and it looked cloudy when wet. I tried, unsuccessfully, to wipe some of the wet enamel off. Bad decision. It ended up looking okay, but really, leave it alone and it will probably turn out okay!

Tips & Ideas

  • Use any map you have lying around.
  • You don’t have to over complicate it like I did by using special maps.
  • Coasters can be found pretty cheaply – look for cheap seasonal coasters at the store.
  • Glue the shapes to the coasters by spreading Mod Podge on the coaster and then placing the shape (not the other way around).
  • Make sure to use spray enamel (like clear spray paint) to water proof the coasters.

61 thoughts on “Map Coasters and Memories

  1. Thanks for the clever idea and clear instructions. I was just looking at a stack of maps last night and wondering what to do with them!

  2. This is such a fabulous idea. I haven’t worked with Mod Podge for years– I think maybe I need to go out and get some! 🙂

    • Thanks! I still actually consider myself a Mod Podge newbie 🙂 Spraying them with the sealer is an absolute must, make sure you get some!

  3. I love this idea!
    I am starting my own linky party this Tuesday! It’s the first one. I would love it if you would participate! It’s called $10 Tuesdays and it’s for things that cost less than $10 and take 20-30 mins (ish) to complete. I love inexpensive and quick projects and I’m guessing others will too 😉 Thanks so much for considering.
    Tina Watschke

  4. I found you on Sweet Floweret’s linky party! Love these SO MUCH! I think I may also print the dates we were there real tiny on computer paper and stick ’em under the ModPodge layers…

    • Oh my goodness. That is SUCH a good idea! I may steal that idea and write underneath the coasters with a sharpie, something like “Na Pali Coast, Kauai. Honeymoon, Year.”

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    • I’m sure the trail maps would look really cool! I’m sure they would look more “together” than my mishmash of places. I’d love to see them if you make them!

  6. What a cute idea! I love that these came from maps of places that mean something to you. I’ve got one small tip for if you try this again…if you do have excess overhang when you trim stuff, you can take a hand sander and sand the edges of your map/paper (after the initial coat of mod podge has dried on the top), and then modge podge the edges that you’ve just sanded and it’ll turn out looking perfect!

    Yours turned out great…love them!

  7. Love this idea and I know I need more coasters in my home. Luckily for me we have lots of maps from trips we have been on as well.

    I just had one question for you. The monogram doesn’t seem to be showing through on your finished coasters. Is the paper that is used for maps thick enough that we won’t have to worry about what is on the original coaster showing through the finish product?

    • Nope, the monogram doesn’t show through at all. I didn’t use special paper either. The Washington Metro map and the NY Bus map were printed on regular printer paper. Maybe if the monogram were black on white it might have shown through the printer-paper maps, but since it was gold on cream it wasn’t a problem. Good luck! Send me pictures of your results!

  8. LOVE THIS! we travel frequently and am totally going to do this when we settle again in the fall! instead of a scrapbook page of maps – we’ll throw them under our drinks! perfect!!

    • Exciting! Where are you traveling at the moment? I’m neurotic and made sure I had a second copy of the maps I used for the coasters just in case I want to also put the maps in my scrapbook 🙂 Let me know if you try these, even if it’s a while down the road!

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  10. I’m in the process of creating my coasters. They look even better than I thought they would. One question: How long did you let the spray enamel dry before testing? I figure at least a day? This is the only step I’m nervous about.

    • Thanks for the comment! I would let them dry at least a day. They’ll dry to the touch in an hour or so and then you can bring them inside and set them away for a day. This is just to be on the safe side. Good luck! Send me pictures when you finish, I’d love to see how they turn out!

      • The spray enamel part wasn’t too scary 🙂 They’ve been drying a couple hours. They’re not cloudy, but seem just a bit dull – I was expecting the enamel to make them more glossy. I’ll test the waterproofing tomorrow night. I sent you an email with a pic!

      • I think it depends on what type you bought. Mine is a clear satin, so it’s in the middle between matte and glossy. Can’t wait to see the results!

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