Distressed Paint Techniques For A Rustic Tray

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One way to get a shabby chic style, is to take something new and distress it with paint.  That is exactly what I did with an inexpensive, unfinished wood tray that I bought from Joanne’s craft supply store.  I also wanted the tray to fit in with the rustic decor at our cabin so I found a great duck picture, taken from a gift bag, that I could decoupage onto the tray.  To give just a little bit more of a rustic touch I wrapped some jute string around the handles.

Distressing with paint is quite easy to do.  You will want to pick at least two colors of contrasting paints and maybe some wood stain.  I like to use a product called Weathered Wood in between paint colors.  This product causes the second layer of paint to rub off and somewhat crackle in areas, giving it a distressed look.  You could also just use sand paper to rub off some of the paint in key areas.

To get the look for the tray shown, I did the following steps:

First, I painted the entire tray in an alpine green acrylic paint.  When dry I coated the entire surface with Weathered Wood.  This goes on clear and is applied with a paint brush.  You will want to clean your brush right away after using with warm water.

Next, I chose to use a white wash paint that has a little thicker texture to it than regular white acrylic paint.  I like the way the paint went on thicker in some parts.  Combining this with the Weathered Wood definitely gave a look of weathered and peeling paint.

I really wanted to get an older look to the paint, so I went over the whole thing with a walnut stain.  I wiped the stain off right away to just give a real subtle “dirty” look.  I then brushed on some white acrylic paint to blend everything together.

Once all the paint was dry, I decoupaged the duck print to the center of the tray.  All you need to do is brush on a decoupage medium such as Mod Podge to the surface of the tray.  Next, you need to coat the back of the print with Mod Podge as well.  Now you can adhere the print to the center of the tray.  Once it is aligned, you need to put one more coat of Mod Podge over the entire surface.  I put this on quite thick.  When it was thoroughly dry, I sprayed acrylic sealer over the entire surface.  This will help to waterproof the tray, in case of spills, when it is being used.  Finally, I wrapped jute string around the handles for a rustic touch.  Place a little craft glue on the beginning and ending knots to ensure that the string stays secure.

When you distress with paint, it is really based on personal preference.  Just think about two contrasting paint colors or one paint color over stained wood.  You can also use a little stain to dirty up your paint color.  If you don’t want to use a product like Weathered Wood for your distressing, you can easily use sand paper to rub off some of the top color.  It is best to rub the color off in areas that would normally show some wear – like edges.  Just keep playing around with your paints and sandpaper until you get a look that you are happy with.

If you are going for a more nature inspired rustic look, try my technique for painting that looks like real birch bark.

I'm addicted to crafting and decorating my downtown urban loft and up north rustic cabin. Read more about me.