Sometimes I just look around my house and think…what can I pour on today?
A few weeks ago, the answer to this question ended up being a set of four aging tray tables that were purchased for my husband and I as a wedding gift eleven years ago. They were just your standard, light oak tray tables, bought from Walmart, and have served us pretty well.
Except of course, they could be prettier.
Our living room is a deep, brick red with white and oak trimming, and I wanted to incorporate those colors into this pour.
Supplies I Used:
- Nicole’s Craft Paints (available at AC Moore) in Bright Red, White, Black, and Metallic Bronze.
- Floetrol (3 parts Floetrol to 1 part paint.)
- Wooden popsicle sticks for stirring
- Plastic, reusable cups for mixing
- Cardboard boxes
- Tray tables
- Wide paint brush
- Metal flake (I used bronze)
- Wide foam brush
- Polycrylic, or your choice of sealer
- Simple Green cleaner
*Note on supplies: I had originally decided to use Arteza paints, but had the same problem I experienced during my review of their products—the paint was extremely lumpy and would not mix with Floetrol. I ended up scraping the one table I poured using Arteza, and circled back to my tried and true 59 cent paints.
Floetrol is my go-to medium, I like the creamy, melted-ice-cream texture and the price point is more attainable for me than GAC800. I do recommend straining your Floetrol first to avoid any lumps.
First, I placed four medium-sized cardboard boxes about four feet away from each other on the floor of my garage and placed a tray table on each of them—the last thing I wanted to do was get paint on the floor, and risk parking my car on wet paint!
Once I had the tray tables set up, I used Simple Green and a paper towel to clean off the top of each tray table thoroughly. This is very important—even if your surface looks clean, give it a good wipe down to make sure your paint sticks.
Once everything was clean and protected, it was time to get started!
I decided to paint the tops of the tray tables white first with a medium layer of unmixed paint; I’ve found that doing this can help the flow of my paints and helps them to stick to the surface a bit better when I do a pour. Just be mindful of your brush marks if you decide to to this; ideally, your pour should be thick enough to be opaque, but thin enough to dry evenly. Because of this, brush marks will definitely show through the pour, so try to achieve a smooth finish.
Once a coat of paint was on, I mixed my colors with Floetrol; black, white, bright red, and metallic bronze. I used equal amounts of my “main colors”, and only about a fourth as much metallic bronze, since I considered that my “accent” color.
(Side note: I’ve noticed that when I use metallic colors in my pours, they can create a metallic sheen over the other colors—that’s why I just use them as accents, primarily).
After my colors were properly mixed with Floetrol, I layered them in a larger plastic cup. I didn’t want to risk the white and red mixing into pink, so I layered red, then black, then white, then black, then red, and so on.
I decided that a flip cup wasn’t the way to go with these tray tables, and settled on a dirty pour instead. I made a figure eight pattern on each tray table with the poured paint—I’ve found that doing this helps the color to even out. Otherwise, I might have had large, concentrated areas of one color, and I didn’t want that.
Now, this is where I advise you to be smarter than I was. I decided not to heed my husband’s advice about taking the tray table tops off the legs because one, I am impatient and didn’t want any more time standing between me and the pour, and two, I am stubborn. But, don’t make my mistake! It was very hard to manipulate those tables, since the legs wanted to fold in every time I picked up the top. I ended up having to squat next to each table and hold the legs to manipulate the pour—not the most comfortable way to “art.” I strongly recommend taking the tops of the tables if you can!
After I had manipulated the tables, I waited about eight days before sealing—this is personal preference. I felt that the paint was sufficiently and thoroughly dried, but there are many who recommend waiting at least a month before sealing.
I applied one coat of Polycrylic, and then crushed a few sheets of bronze leaf in my hand to sprinkle at random over the top; I love this look! There are a few larger flakes and some smaller, fine glitter flakes that give the top a lot of dimension. I waited two hours, and applied a second coat of Polycrylic to seal in the bronze flake completely, and flatten the surface.
For cost reasons, I did not resin these tray tables; I don’t intend to sell them, and I don’t often resin things that I plan on keeping for personal use due to the price of resin. If you do decide to seal your tray tables with resin, I still highly recommend sealing them with Polycrylic first; using a two step sealing method has completely eliminated any issues I’ve had with pits or pulling when the resin cures.
This was a time consuming, extremely fun project that gave new life to my old, sad looking tray tables. If you have some old tray tables or nightstands laying around, give this a try—you’ll breathe new life into your furniture and have a new conversation piece for your home, too!
Sara Wagner is an author and artist from Upstate New York. She is the owner of Studio Blackwater and can typically be found covered in paint, cats, or her two young daughters. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram as @studioblackwater.
13 thoughts on “Tray Table Makeover With Acrylic Pouring”
Your table turned out beautiful Sara, I love the distinction of colors. Thanks for sharing your step-by-step – I will definitely try your method and measurements on my next table pour (I too recycled a worm tray table but I have 3 more to experiment on!) I loved the idea of crushed bronze leaf and will also try that.
The crushed metal leaf gives so much dimension-I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
What an awesome idea for tray tables! Having had trouble with pitting in my expensive resin, I will definitely try a coat of Polycrylic first. Thank you for sharing. ????
The coat of Polycrylic has been a resin saver for me!
Thank you so much. I am going to Texas this week, but I am trying this art form when I return.
Great! Make sure to show us what you come up with!
I like your advice on not getting pink. layering white and black between your colors. thanks. I’m wanting to do an end table too.
It seems to work well for me-looking forward to seeing your results!
Beautiful result! I’m curious, did you let the white paint dry before you did the pour or use it as you would in a regular pour as a “flow assist”? Thanks.
I used it as a flow assist; it worked great!
Just wondering what did you do to the bottom of the tray table when the top was done? Thank you
I recently poured on 5 TV Tray Tables.
I didn’t remove the tops either and it was quite a challenge to lift and tilt.
After I poured the 1st 2 trays, I started putting down a layer of Valspar untinted house paint to make paint flow easier.
I have a kiddie pool to put the TV tray table in to catch the paint.
I poured 1 table every few days in order for the table to dry so I could move the painted table to use the kiddie pool.
I will paint the legs a solid color.
Just Last weekend I decided to give my plastic tray table a makeover. I did a dirty pour and so far it dried well. Thank you for the polycrylic idea. I will try that. Yes I took the legs off before start pouring!