DIY Painting Idea for a Wood Serving Tray

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My DIY painting idea for a wood serving tray worked out perfectly for my thrift store makeover. The tray is now updated and refreshed for a new beginning!

Wooden trays are fairly easy to find at thrift stores, antique malls, and consignment shops, or as my husband likes to say, “junk stores.”

I actually have three more trays waiting in the wings for a transformation!

DIY PAINTING IDEA FOR A WOOD SERVING TRAY

painted wood serving tray displayed on a table

My 70’s vintage dining table and chairs, in the picture above, are on my list to give a major transformation one of these days!

wooden tray before being painted

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SUPPLIES NEEDED

  • Wooden serving tray ~ thrift store
  • Wine stencils ~ Michael’s
  • Chalk paint ~ Cashew by Waverly
  • Acrylic craft paint ~ Tucson Red by Apple Barrel
  • Metallic craft paint
  • Artist brushes ~ variety of sizes
  • Medium paint brush for base coat
  • Small paint brush for edges
  • Medium grit sand paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
supplies needed to paint the wood serving tray

I chose 3 patterns to mix together that I thought would look perfect on my wooden tray makeover.

At the time, I didn’t realize the stencils were made of cardstock paper. Ugh! I guess that’s why they were a “good deal.”

I just needed to cut out the ones that I wanted to use from the large sheets.

3 stencils chosen for the diy painting idea on a wood serving tray

WHAT KIND OF PAINT CAN BE USED ON WOODEN TRAYS?

  • Acrylic paint ~ Apple Barrel
  • Chalk paint ~ Waverly
  • Spray paint ~ Krylon or Rust-oleum
  • Latex paint ~ Behr

HOW TO PAINT A WOODEN TRAY

STEP 1 – PREP THE TRAY

SAND: Use 80 medium grit sandpaper to provide a surface that paint can adhere. Afterwards, wipe down with damp cloth.

CLEAN: Some thrifted trays may need a strong cleaner/degreaser like Simple Green or Krud Kutter.

STEP 2 – PAINT THE TRAY

I used nylon paint brushes by Plaid to paint the main color of my tray.

Two coats were needed for good coverage. Let dry completely between coats.

My color choice was “Cashew” chalk paint by Waverly.

TIP: Use a hair dryer or heat gun to speed up the drying time.

STEP 3 – ADD THE DESIGNS

Cut the paper stencils out from the main sheets and choose the placements on your painted tray.

placing the stencils where they will be painted onto the wood serving tray

I chose to pencil trace the stenciled areas instead of stenciling directly with paint so I would be able to use the stencils again.

Hand painting took a lot longer than stenciling the designs would have been! If you don’t have the patience, you can always search for mylar wine stencils. Mylar stencils are reusable.

traced designs on the painted wood serving tray

STEP 4 – PAINT THE TRAY DESIGNS

I used two different sized artist paint brushes that would accommodate the varying widths of the designs ~ an angled one and a liner brush.

If you go outside your traced areas, just use a tiny liner paint brush to clean up the edges with the tray base coat color.

I used a Tuscan Red color and camel paint color for the base coats of the letters, glasses and bottle. Two coats were needed.

diy painted wine designs on a wood serving tray

Below shows the left side of the tray and the first coat of paint on the bottle and glass.

first painted coat of wine design on the wood tray

STEP 5 – ADD PAINTED HIGHLIGHTS

I ended up adding some smudgy highlights to the Tuscan Red color because the flatness looked kind of boring.

Mixing a camel paint color to the wine shade made my highlight color.

As you can see below, I used it on the letters and on the wine glasses.

A metallic gold was used on some areas of the camel color to highlight and accent.

painting highlights on the wine design that's on a wooden serving tray
painting highlights on the wine bottle design that's on a wood serving tray

HOW TO PAINT STRIPES ON A WOODEN TRAY

STEP 1 – TAPE OFF THE STRIPES

  • Find the center on each edge of your tray and lightly mark with pencil.
  • Place the first piece of tape evenly on the center mark.
  • Place the second piece of tape on the left or right side of the first piece.
  • You’ll use this second piece of tape as your spacer around the entire tray.
  • Apply the third piece of tape beside your spacer piece.
  • Now, remove the spacer piece to reveal what will soon be a painted stripe.

Continue by adding the spacer piece next to the tape that’s down, add a new piece of tape beside the spacer piece, remove spacer piece, and continue likewise around the whole tray.

Once painting is complete, remove all the tape.

1-inch Frogtape is my favorite painter’s tape to paint stripes.

illustrating how to position tape to make painted stripes on the wood tray
illustrating how to position tape to make painted stripes on the wood tray
the wood serving tray's sides are completely taped off for painting stripes

STEP 2 – PAINT THE STRIPES

I used chocolate brown paint and a 1-inch flat head artist brush to paint the stripes. Two coats were needed.

the stripe idea is completely painted on the wood serving tray

Well, do you like how it turned out? Will you hunt down those wonderful “paper” wine stencils or try a different theme idea for your wooden tray makeover?

MORE PAINTED TRAY IDEAS:

HOW TO PAINT AND MOD PODGE A WOODEN TRAY

WINTER TRAY DECOR IDEAS

graphic saying pin for later
graphic for a diy hand painted wood serving tray

I’ve joined a group of creative designers this month to share our upcycles and makeovers with all of our readers. We take something old and/or unused and ‘do it over’ into something new. Our items can be found in closets, barns, garages, yard sales, thrift stores, you name it! 

This month our theme is “wood.” Be sure to click their project links below to see what they’re sharing. Don’t miss out!

BELOW, SEE MORE “WOOD” UPCYCLED DECOR AND CRAFTS!

graphic for the 'do it over' design group

Exquisitely Unremarkable

Little Vintage Cottage

Modern on Monticello

Pandora’s Box

Purple Hues & Me

Southern Sunflowers

Unique Creations by Anita

Sum of Their Stories

Tea and Forget-Me-Nots

The Apple Street Cottage

Birdz of a Feather

Color Me Thrifty

Sharing my DIY painting idea for a wood serving tray at these fabulous blogs!

author of the southern sunflowers blog
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allyson

Allyson is the founder and content creator of Southern Sunflowers which shares tutorials for DIY crafts and decor on a budget.

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40 thoughts on “DIY Painting Idea for a Wood Serving Tray”

  1. This turned out really cute Allyson! I have a tray that I have a makeover planned for, but your idea is too cute. Thank you for sharing with Whimsy Home Wednesday.

      1. Can’t wait to see what you do with the next ones Allyson! I finally started making mine over, but I am still not sure which direction I will take it lol!

  2. Your tray turned out so cute! I love those stencils! I have a tray I haven’t used in over a year, so I need to paint it!! You have inspired me! Thanks so much!

  3. As much as I like the idea of stencils, painting through them never works well for me so I really like how you’ve used it here, and then hand painted adding in those little details after.

    1. Alexandra, I’m still trying to improve my stenciling technique, however, these paper stencils just worked better with tracing so I could use them again.

  4. Beautifully done and outstanding work. Love it, and will not mind having one of those myself.
    I visited you via A Morning Cup Of Joe Linky Party
    If interested feel free to visit my entries for this week: #22+23 as I would love to invite you to come and share your posts and you will have an opportunity to get featured.
    You will find the linkup information (1) In the Top bar under Blogging: Weekly Senior Salon Pit Stop OR 2nd image In the sidebar
    We hope to meet you there virtually.

    1. Donna, I’m glad you like my painted tray! There’s still some slight edging boo boos, but I think they just add to the character of hand painting. Yep, I’m sticking with that ~ lol.

  5. Amazing what a transformation a bit of paint can make! You did well with those stencils under the circumstances and really made it work for your tray upcycle.

    1. Thanks, Julie! Hand painting instead of stenciling sure took a lot of extra time, but I was happy with how my tray ended up looking, too.

  6. So pretty, Allyson! I love the boldness of the painted stripes along with the design of the stencils! Your tray is quite lovely and unique looking! It certainly looks like something you would find in an upscale boutique!

  7. Great makeover! I don’t remember that I’ve seen a paper stencil before but you found a great way to use it! I thought you were going to use it like a traditional stencil but this worked so much better!

    Tania

    1. Tania, I never thought I would ever have to check to see what the stencils were made of. When I opened the pack, I was like “what on earth” ~ lol. Paper stencils SMH.

  8. I love how this turned out Allyson; the shading really adds dimension and the painterly look is so charming. Whenever I get paper stencils that I want to reuse, I add packing tape over them and then cut the inside of the stencil so I can use them again if I wish. I never bother to wash even my mylar stencils, so the tape makes them pretty durable.

  9. Not only do I have the same tray that’s been sitting around for years, but, wine? You’re talking my language, Allyson! Love this makeover and now it’s time for wine and cheese on the patio!

  10. A perfect project for the summer party season! I love it. I suddenly feel the need for more trays in my home. Thanks for the fun inspiration!

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