Where TV Trays are concerned, you don’t have many decor options. Let’s face it, they’re mostly utilitarian. You pull them out when you need
a little extra table top space. Then you tuck them away back in a corner and hope that no one notices how fugly they are. But there is really no rule that they have to be plain and boring. Last weekend I painted and stenciled two scroungy TV Trays with a tribal bird pattern stencil from Stencil Revolution. The tray tables actually turned out looking pretty cool when all was said and done. More like something you might want to show off, rather than hide.
And here is how they look now. Painted and Oxford gray with a tribal bird stencil pattern in white. A trash to treasure considering these tables have surely seen better days.
Furniture Makeover: Chalk Painted and Stenciled TV Trays
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Clean and sand
As a first step, I gave the tables a good cleaning and then lightly sanded the surface. Following that up by wiping them down with a damp paper towel to get the dust off.
Next, using a chalk paint brush, I gave the trays two coats of Vintage Market Chalk Paint in the color Oxford. Allowing the appropriate dry time in between, which for this brand of paint is two hours.
As a side note, if you like these paint colors, but prefer to use the Deco Art Chalk Finish brand, you can find a similar color match using:
- Paint color similar to VM Oxford: Decor Art Chalky Finish in Relic
- Paint color similar to VM Cotton: Decor Art Chalky Finish in Everlasting
Lastly, using a good quality varnish brush, I sealed the TV trays with two coats of Rustoleum Chalked Protective Top Coat in Matte. This product is water based and super easy to use. Very similar to the top coat I used on these spray painted dining chairs. It has a very low sheen and sets up quite nicely on horizontal surfaces without leaving streaks. It’s a handy alternative to a finishing wax because it provides a more durable coat. However, the sealer did drip on the vertical areas (the tray legs). So, in order to get rid of the drips, I dabbed at them with paper towel after letting the sealer dry for about 5 or 10 minutes. Alternatively I could have dabbed at the drips with a foam craft brush, but either way, it did not mess up the finish.
Weekend Project?: Yes
This project could be completed in about 8-12 hours allowing for a minimal drying time of about 2 hours between coats. Being that a TV tray is a relatively small piece of furniture, the application time was approximately 15-20 minutes per coat. This could also be completed over a span of several days, allowing for extended drying time between coats.
Use a simple, quality stencil
There’s so many stencil choices these days, but I suggest a simple stencil design for updating table trays. I mean, let’s face it, you don’t want to get too fancy because most of these TV tray tables aren’t high quality pieces of furniture. This was my first time using a stencil from Stencil Revolution and I have to say, it was really great quality and easy to work with. I’m always worried the paint will smear when removing the stencil, but this stencil is thick enough that it didn’t flex when I pulled it up. Meaning. No smears. Yay!
Now, when we pull these out for company, they’ll have a flow with the rest of the decor in the room and look like they fit in, rather than clash.
I choose the paint colors and stencil to fit in with our style, which has be
en slowly developing since we had the challenge of the wrong paint color in our living room. But the basic process for doing this furniture makeover is the same no matter the paint colors or stencils. Use this tutorial as a guide to give your run of the mill TV tables a makeover with chalk paint and a good quality stencil.
Give your wooden TV trays an update with chalk paint and a simple stenciled design. These tray tables were done in a dark gray tone with a tribal bird stencil. Then protected with a clear coat sealer. Tray tables aren't usually very fancy, but there's no reason they can't be updated to match your home decor.
- Wooden TV trays
- Tribal Bird Stencil
- Chalk paint from Vintage Market color: Oxford
- Chalk paint from Vintage Market color: Cotton
- Degreaser cleaning product
- Rustoleom Chalked Protective Top Coat finish in Matte Clear
- 150 grit sandpaper
- Blue Painters tape
- Paper towels
- Clean the tray tables with a degreaser.
- Lightly sand the table tops, then wipe dust off with a damp cloth.
- Using the chalk paint brush, apply 2 coats of dark gray chalk paint, allowing for proper dry time in between.
- Position stencil in center and adhere down with painters tape.
- Load stencil brush with white chalk paint. Tamp off most of the excess onto the paper towel.
- Pounce the paint directly down onto the stencil. Apply several very light coats of paint, rather than one thick coat.
- Allow a few minutes of drying time for each coat.
- Carefully remove the stencil by gently peeling the tape first, then lifting stencil up as a flat piece. Let the paint dry completely.
- With the varnish brush, apply several coats of Rustoleum Top Coat Sealer, allowing for dry time in between coats. Try to apply several light coats to build the finish.
- As each coat is drying, check for any drips, especially on the table legs. Dab any drips away with a small foam brush or paper towel.
- Allow sealer to dry completely, per recommended dry time.
- The top coat will dry in 8 to 10 hours, but it will still need to cure for about 20 days. Try to use the tables gently until fully cured.
- If you have a TV Tray stand, consider painting that to match, as well.
- These are basic steps and design options that can be changed to suit your decor. Consider choosing paint colors and a stencil that will match your style.
Other Stencil Patterns that would work well on TV Trays
This tribal raven stencil kind of reminded me of a Game of Thrones symbol. Interesting, yet simple. Here are some other simple design stencils that I think would work really well on small folding tables like these.