Add Some Beauty to Your Fence With DIY Decorative Plates

14 Materials
2 Hours

As you may have noticed, I’ve been on a quest to update the outdoor spaces of my home for the past few months. Beyond adding a new coat of paint, I wanted to add some decor to my fence to spruce it up a bit and add some visual interest. These DIY decorative plates are easy to make and super cheap. They will only last a season or two, but with a project this cheap and easy you’ll be happy to make a new set when needed. Follow my step-by-step tutorial below to get started today!

Tools and Materials

Tools and Materials:

  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Plastic plates
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Alcohol ink
  • Heat gun
  • Kamar varnish
  • UV protective gloss
  • Stick and Style stencil
  • Slick Stick
  • Blue shop cloth
  • Scissors
  • Twine
  • E6000
Paint the Fence

Paint the Fence

I got lucky with this project as I didn’t have to prep my fence at all! The existing paint was well adhered, so I was able to just paint right over it. If the paint is not well adhered, you’ll need to sand and remove as much of it as possible. When you paint over peeling paint, it will just peel off together with the previous coat of paint. Using an older paint brush I painted an even coat of midnight blue paint onto my fence. This paint has great coverage and I didn’t even need a second coat!

Disposable Plates

Color the Plate

I bought some cheap disposable melamine plates at my local dollar store for this project. These plates will probably only last a season or so, but that’s fine because it’s easy to do again or just to change up my decor seasonally. 


To get started, I thoroughly cleaned the plate with a bit of isopropyl alcohol on a blue shop cloth. 

Add Isopropyl Alcohol

I added a small puddle of isopropyl alcohol to the center of my plate. Then I added a few drops of alcohol ink in different shades of blue and swirled it around a bit. 

Add Alcohol Ink

If any of the ink gets on the edge of the plate or in a place you don’t want it to be, just take a paper towel and some isopropyl alcohol and wipe it off.

Use a Heat Gun

Then, using a heat gun, I moved the ink around a bit until it started to dry and I had achieved the look I was going for. 

Clean Up the Edges

I cleaned up the edges again with a blue shop cloth dipped in a bit of isopropyl alcohol.


Alcohol ink is not UV stable, so it will fade in the light. I sealed it with two sprays. First I sprayed Kamar Varnish to stop it from smudging, and then I added a gloss that would make it UV resistant.

Add a Stencil

Add a Stencil

Now I’ll show you another way you can decorate a plate. I used a stencil called a Stick and Style stencil. I’m working with a floral stencil for this project. 

Stick the Stencil On

I cut it to size and stuck it down.

Dab with Paint

Then, using a blue shop cloth, I dipped into some paint. I offloaded a bit onto another shop cloth, and then pounced it onto the stencil. You may be asking yourself, why didn’t she just use a stencil brush? Well, I couldn’t find my stencil brushes or sponges! You can of course use one if you have one, but this is a simple way to work with what you have at hand.

Remove the Stencil

Once I had covered the entire stencil, I removed it and touched up the edges with a blue shop cloth. 

Clean It Up
DIY Stenciled Plate

Paint with Slick Stick

Splatter the Plate

This third technique is one of my favorites. The plate I’m using for this technique is very shiny, so I decided to use a product from Dixie Belle called Slick Stick. This allows you to paint over any shiny surface. Sometimes, when working with a very shiny surface, the paint won’t stick properly. Slick Stick solves this problem by priming your surface. Add two coats of Slick Stick to make sure your plate is completely covered. 

Add White Paint

Once the Slick Stick had dried, I added a coat of white paint and let it dry.

Flick On Paint

Now for the fun part, I dipped the handle of a paint brush into my paint and splattered paint all over my plate, a la Jackson Pollock. I alternated with two colors, a nice deep blue and a silver color. 



In order to hang these plates I attached a small piece of twine with E6000 glue and added a bit of blue shop cloth to hold it on securely. I attached hooks to my fence which made it easy to simply hang the plates on the hooks.

DIY Decorative Plates

This is a fun and easy project that brings the indoors outdoors for some stunning summer decor! What kinds of designs would you use for your own fence? Let me know in the comments below! 

Resources for this project:
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Fiona Debell
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 6 questions
  • Cathyz Cathyz on Apr 09, 2021

    I love the paint on the plates. Could the plates be used for food instead of just decoration?

  • Gail Willson Gail Willson on Apr 09, 2021

    It looks lovely. When you have to redo this in a few years, could you get plates from a second-hand store to avoid the manufacture of cheap stuff that creates pollution and ultimately ends up in the landfill?

  • Leslie Leslie on Apr 15, 2021

    Hi Fiona, have you tried using Spar Urethane on the plates? It is waterproof and UV protection, but I am not sure how it will react with the alcohol ink. Maybe an experimental piece could be made to find out. I also think that regular acrylic craft paints could be used instead of Dixie Bell to save money. Thank you for sharing your project :)

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2 of 56 comments
  • Ana Ana on May 05, 2022

    I LOOOVE hanging plates anywhere I can. I might just try hanging them on my fence. Thank you for the inspiration!😀

  • Sharon Sharon on Apr 01, 2024

    you should do spray painted ferns and other natural materials for out side