How to Paint a Wooden Tray

Updated April 17, 2017

Wooden trays are items commonly found in the home, often used for carrying tea or holding items for display. A hand-painted wooden tray can make for an interesting focal piece in your home or as a lovely gift idea. You can paint a wooden tray any colour you want, and the process can be fairly simple as long as you have the proper supplies.

Sand over the surface of the tray lightly with 180-grit sandpaper to remove any nicks or other imperfections from the wood.

Dab a small amount of a concentrated wood cleaning solution onto a rag and wipe it over the entire surface of the wood to remove any dust and dirt.

Rub an acrylic sealer over the wood to seal the wood and wait for it to dry completely.

Dip a large paintbrush into white acrylic paint and brush over the surface of the wood. You may want to repeat with a second coat to ensure a solid, even finish.

Wait for the paint to dry completely and paint over with a small paintbrush and the desired colours of paint. You can add stripes, swirls or other decorative strokes until you achieve the desired look.

Wait for the paint to dry completely.

Dip a large paintbrush into clear epoxy paint and brush over the entire surface of the wood. This adds a sheen to the wooden tray and protects the paintwork underneath.


Glue on gems or beads for decoration after painting with regular wood adhesive or hot glue. You can d├ęcoupage the tray after painting to add decorative images across the surface of the tray. You can substitute a different colour of paint in place of the white as the base coat, and use as few or as many different colours as you want in the overall design.

Things You'll Need

  • 180-grit sandpaper
  • Concentrated wood cleaner
  • Rag
  • All-purpose acrylic sealer
  • Acrylic paint set
  • 1 cup clear epoxy paint
  • Paintbrushes, large and small
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About the Author

In 2000 Diana Prince began writing as a journalist for the school newspaper. Later, she took on a lead writing job at a locally published newspaper. Her work has appeared in various magazines and online publications. She has a degree in cosmetology, a certification in personal training and nutrition and holds a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing and journalism from McMaster University.