DIY Stencil Sign Using Letter Trays As A Canvas


I came across some decorative, woven letter trays on clearance at Target and decided they would be the perfect size and shape for a stenciled sign for our boy's beach themed bathroom. I knew the material and paint would be able to stand up to the high humidity of a bathroom and the red, white, and blue colors would match his bedroom. This would be a super cute idea for a child's name or for an "EAT" sign for the kitchen.
This is what the original letter tray looked like. I paid less than $3 each for them.
I wanted the outside border to have more contrast with my wall color so I used some dark stain. I brushed it on with a foam brush and then wiped off the excess with a paper towel. It's messy so be sure to wear gloves! You could easily skip this step or use paint instead of stain if that's what you prefer.
After the stain had dried, I painted the center off white. As you can see, I left a small unpainted border around the edges.
After the white paint had dried, I painted the border a dark blue to match the bathroom vanity I had just painted. I thought about taping off to have a precisely even blue border, but I ended up just eyeballing it. I wanted the sign to look rustic and hand painted--not perfect.
I found a free stencil printable and adjusted the size (in my printer options) to fit my letter trays.
I had some "oops" spots where the paint had leaked underneath the stencil and one area had a splatter of red paint. I took a small craft brush and touched up these areas.
This was after the touch ups had been completed.
We hung it high on the wall, with a beach themed towel rack below.
For more info including the free ABC stencils see:

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Maureen Burt
    on Mar 26, 2016

    What is a letter tray. I didn't recognize it?

    • CrazyClock
      on Apr 30, 2019

      This is such a unique and creative project and I love it! It's perfect for nautical decor and I love that you chose the word "SURF".

      Your instructions and photos are clear and easy to follow. Thank you!

  • Liz
    on Mar 27, 2016

    The creative mind sees possibilities everywhere! I'm going to adapt your idea, but with a rustic, mountain theme. Do you recommend spraying the finished product with a clear poly spray for extra protection from humidity?

    • At Home With The Ellingtons
      on Mar 27, 2016

      I used General Finishes milk paint and it doesn't need poly for "medium" wear. I actually sanded them (very carefully!) to give them a shabby, old look and so I'm thinking a little more wear and tear won't hurt them. My little guy still takes more baths than showers so I think that will help, but if you're wanting a more pristine look then it won't hurt to poly coat them. I hope you'll share pictures of your creation! Would love to see what more creative minds come up with!

  • Cheryl Westmoreland
    on Apr 26, 2019

    I’ve been to Target a hundred times and I’ve never seen woven baskets for less than three dollars anywhere! So I feel this is not true unless you have an in at Target.

    • E95656
      on Apr 23, 2020

      They have had them in the Target dollar spot.

Join the conversation

2 of 57 comments
  • CrazyClock
    on Apr 30, 2019

    REALLY CLEVER and really cute!!! This is something I've not seen before and it's refreshing  and perfect for nautical inspired and your choice of the word 'surf' is perfect!

  • Linda Abate
    on Apr 24, 2020

    Definitely a cute way of decorating. These would also be great to hang in a child's room with their name on it or on your porch with your house number on it. I am sure the ways these trays can be used are many. Great job.

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