Rustic Bathtub Tray

11 Materials
2 Days

This easy DIY built took me two days and was a huge payoff. I'll definitely be making more in the future! This particular tray -made for my mom for Christmas- is the first I've made, making it a trial and error process on the stain which I will get into later in the post.

rustic bathtub tray

What you'll need:

One 1x12x4 Pine Board (If your bathtub's width is less than 3'6")

Folk Art Stencils

2 Handles

Waverly Chalkpaint in "Plaster"

Minwax Stain in "Jacobean"

Minwax Gel Stain in "Coffee" (Not pictured)

Spray Matte Enamel (Not Pictured)



Drill or Screw Driver (Not Pictured)

Electric Sander (+ 60 grit & 120 grit)

Step One:

Measure the width of your bathtub, from wall to edge, (mine was 29.5" and measure this width on your board. Cut this width from the piece of pine board. From the same board, cut two 3" wide pieces.)

rustic bathtub tray

Step Two:

All three pieces should be sanded very well with the 120 grit, making sure to sand with the grain to avoid a splotchy finish later. As this piece is meant to be rustic, I'm also sanding down the corners and the edges of the pieces. See above, on the left is an original cut piece and the right piece has been sanded and the corners have been rounded.

rustic bathtub tray

Step Two (Cont.):

See above, using the electric sander to round off all of the sharp edges. This step is VERY easy to overdo as the electric sander takes off quite a bit very fast. So start with small swipes to the corner until you get a feel for the way it works.

rustic bathtub tray

Step Three & Four:

Give the pieces a final sanding with the 60 grit to ensure a smooth finish. With the E6000, glue the two 3" pieces to the board and let it dry overnight with either clamps or weights (I used books as weights).

rustic bathtub tray

Step Five:

Now comes the staining step! I originally planned on using only the Jacobean stain in a few layers. However, after giving it 4 coats I realized it wasn't nearly as dark as I was hoping. I had a can of Coffee gel stain laying around so I added a thin layer of that on top, making it very smooth and letting it dry rather than wiping away the excess. I was very pleased with the way it looked! Give this at least 2 hours to dry before moving on to the next step.

rustic bathtub tray

Step Six:The folkart stencils are my new best friends! Its a $10 42 pack of great farmhouse stencils with quotes like "Farmhouse Pantry", "Warm & Cozy", "Home is where the Heart is", "Relax", etc. In this case I decided to choose the 'warm thoughts' quote and paint the Plaster Waverly chalk paint on with dabbing motions. As I was going for a very 'homemade rustic' look, I purposefully left some spots with the paint not totally opaque and was very quick in the painting to ensure a worn imperfect look. If you're going for a more professional finish, be slow and take your time with the stencil, using a good stencil sponge.

rustic bathtub tray

Step Seven:

Give the chalk paint about an hour to dry before going over the piece with the matte enamel spray. This spray is AMAZING when used correctly. Make sure that the spray goes on and looks completely wet (not a patchy misting!) and allow to dry completely. Once the top dries, in about 2 hours, turn the piece over and spray the bottom and sides. Give it another 2 hours.

rustic bathtub tray

Step Eight:

Finally, drill in the handles to the two 3" pieces.

And that is it! I'm happy to report that my mom loved the tray and thought when she first opened it that it was from Hearth & Home because of the farmhouse style, which is probably the highest compliment she could've given me!

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Hayley ~ Tea & Sawdust

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


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3 of 9 comments
  • Carla
    on Dec 29, 2018

    Going to renovate my bathroom early next year and I will be making one of these bath shelves, with Em's suggestion of the blocks or strips of wood to keep it from falling in the tub. If there is a way to knock it off you can be sure someone in my household will find the way to do it. LOL.... Tanks so much for sharing, both you and Em.

  • Emma Hughes
    on Dec 30, 2018

    made something similar only little wider(1 x12 x 6) and used 1 x 1's to put an edge on so items would not slide off or get bumped off so easily(little kids live here).Also had stops on bottom to keep it from falling into the tub.I really like the idea of putting a saying on it, will have to do that on next 1's I do. They are going to be next years Christmas gifts. Getting started SOON!

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