Using trays on coffee tables and ottomans is a big trend these days and when I saw this tray at the thrift store it definitely did not look like a picture from a magazine. The brass on the handles and the worn dark brown finish was dated. The painted wood tray is a more modern look and is better suited for this room.
Deciding on the Finish
I wanted to bring some green into the otherwise grey living room (including the re-upholstered ottoman) so I decided to paint the tray in a medium green color. The brass handles were what really dated the tray, so I went with a glossy black finish for the handles.
Painting small items is a specialty of my husband Andy, from his hobby making airplane models so I asked Andy to help update the tray, and also to help write this blog article.
Masking the Wood and Painting the Metal
Andy started by using low-tack masking tape to mask the wood on the handle so he could use glossy black spray paint over the brass.
Painting over bare metal can be a challenge getting paint to stick so it’s good to make sure the surfaces are well cleaned and then use a dedicated primer coat that will bond to the metal and provide a better surface for the subsequent paint coats. After several light coats of primer and black spray paint and after drying time, the masking tape was removed from the wood.
Mask the Metal and Paint the Wood
Sprayed paint dries to the touch very quickly but since we needed to mask the metal before painting the wood, it really need to completely cure, so if you are trying this technique, allow at least 24 hours. This will reduce the risk that removing the masking tape lifts the earlier paint layers. We then taped over the metal parts while the tray was painted.
Three coats of the green spray paint was followed by multiple brushed coats of Future furniture polish to seal the paint and make the tray durable.
Apply Polish to Painted Wood Tray
Normally to apply a brushed coat over a sprayed paint would make little sense and compromise the smooth sprayed finish, however, the Future polish is very thin and has self-leveling properties that help to eliminate brush strokes. Just don’t apply the Future too heavily or it can puddle or form drips. Incidentally, if you have access to spray equipment the Future polish sprays beautifully without any thinning. It can be cleaned from the spray nozzle by further spraying of Windex cleaner or something similar.
We did a project earlier this year using masking and paint to update a decorative cat ornament. The picture below is of our very own cat model, Little’n, lying on a piece of cardboard shunning the perfectly good cat bed beside her.