DIY Stenciled Subway Art Tray

About a year ago JM found an old plastic serving tray in our alley on his way home from work. And because he’s a good husband he brought it inside and gave it to me to “fix”. Well, it’s taken about a year to figure out how to fix it up, but I finally had the perfect idea: I stenciled subway art city names onto it!

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray

DecoArt sent me some stencils and a bunch of multi-surface paint, and I knew they would be perfect to give this little tray a facelift!

DIY Stenciled Subway Art Tray

Here’s what I used for this stenciled subway art tray:

  • an old tray
  • white spray paint
  • Americana Multi-Surface Satin paints (I used the Deep Turquoise color)
  • Americana Multi-Surface stencil (I used the Bon Voyage stencil)
  • painter’s tape
  • paint brush

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray using Americana Multi-Surface Satin paint

Here’s what the tray looked like when JM first found it. The paint was chipped, all of the corners and edges had collected years of dirt and grime, and the yellow sticker in the middle was peeling off.

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray - Before

But with a little bit of TLC and a lot of soap, the tray was ready for a brand new life!

I started by spray painting the entire thing white. I let it dry for about a day, then I marked off a square area on the tray with painter’s tape. I sprayed the back of the stencil with spray adhesive, let it dry for about a minute, and then lined up the stencil over the square and pressed it down so it stuck to the tray.

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray: Tape off an area to stencil and attach stencil using spray adhesive

I was going for a faded, aged look, so I used a brush with super stiff bristles so that there would be visible brush strokes when I was finished. I put a small bit of paint on the end of my brush, brushed most of it off onto a scrap piece of paper, and then lightly brushed over the stencil, making sure to keep my brush strokes all going in the same direction.

I did a light second coat with the turquoise to make sure there weren’t any white spots, but I purposely didn’t try to get full coverage of the paint everywhere.

NOTE: If you want a more solid color in your stenciled area, I suggest using a brush with softer bristles and doing a few light coats to make sure the paint covers solidly.

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray: Get an aged look by using a stiff bristle brush and doing light coats that don't cover completely

I pulled the stencil off right away after I finished the second coat, and the lettering was perfect! Or rather, not perfect, which was exactly the look I was going for!!!

NOTE: If you want clean edges on your stenciled design, make sure there is very little paint on your brush before you start stenciling or it will leak under the stencil. Also, make sure you use a lot of spray adhesive on the back of your stencil so that every little piece of the stencil is really well stuck to your project before you begin painting. And if you can, paint inward from on top of the stencil towards the open area. That way you aren’t pushing paint into and under the edge of the stencil.

I let the turquoise paint dry for about a day and then I sprayed the whole front of the tray with a clear matte sealer, and I was done!

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray

DIY Stenciled City Subway Art Tray

If you want to try these paints out for yourself, Americana Multi-Surface Satins are available for purchase at Michaels, A.C. Moore, Hobby Lobby, and other fine craft retailers. And there’s a great rebate deal on the paints going on right now! If you buy 5 bottles of paint you’ll get $3 back after you fill in the rebate form! The rebate is open to US residents only; see the image below for details.


Disclosure: DecoArt sent me free products to use for this project, but I truly love their paints and all opinions in this post are 100% my own. I would never write a post about something I didn’t think was useful or interesting for you guys, and Practically Functional will only publish sponsored posts for companies or products I love and believe in! 🙂


I link up at these awesome parties!

Jessi Wohlwend

I believe that anyone can do crafts and DIY projects, regardless of skill or experience. I love sharing simple craft ideas, step by step DIY project tutorials, cleaning hacks, and other tips and tricks all with one goal in mind: giving you the tools you need to “do it yourself”, complete fun projects, and make awesome things!

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Reader Interactions

  1. Ellya Brill says

    11 years ago

    How pretty is this! I am pinning it.


  2. Krista @ the happy housie says

    11 years ago

    This is so cute Jessi! I love the color and the stencil is perfect… tricky to do (I recently stenciled a nightstand and have more stenciling plans, so I love all the tips I can get! I would love for you to link up at our new mega-party Work it Wednesday if you haven’t already. Each link will be shown on 4 blogs! Work it Wednesday

    – Krista @ the happy housie

    • Krista @ the happy housie says

      11 years ago

      Thank you so much for sharing this at Work it Wednesday Jessi – I am featuring it on my Facebook page today! Have a fabulous Labour Day:)
      – Krista

  3. noorain says

    11 years ago

    Wow! love your idea, simple and yet looks very elegant – great job very inspiring 🙂

  4. Becky @ U Create says

    11 years ago

    Love how you used this stencil! Great job!

  5. Gwen says

    11 years ago

    He is such a good blogger husband! It’s awesome, Jessi. It turned out super!

  6. Courtenay says

    11 years ago

    That really is something quite amazing! What a change! *Sigh* Oh, paint. I just love you so.

  7. Cathy Schmidt says

    11 years ago

    Oh beautiful! BTW want to exchange Husbands? Mine would have looked at the piece of “junk”, not giving it another thought except it would be another project to be later throw out because I didn’t do it right away. They (husbands) can be so thoughtless sometimes!

    • Jessi Wohlwend says

      11 years ago

      Haha! JM has definitely learned how to be a good blogger husband; he makes sure I have photos of food before we eat dinner, if he sees something out in the alley he brings it inside in case I want it, and if I don’t he takes it back out there for me!

  8. Kelly@ Here Comes the Sun says

    11 years ago

    This turned out great! I love the color you chose.

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