A quick sanding and a couple of coats of bright spray paint are all you need.
painted tole trays
Credit: Nico Schinco

Tole trays, often spotted in secondhand shops with scuffed and faded floral designs, might look like they've served their purpose. But these plentiful, reasonably priced tin pieces can be transformed into outdoor-friendly tableware in a snap. A quick sanding and a couple of coats of bright spray paint—we used Rust-Oleum Painter's Touch 2X Ultra Cover Satin Spray Paint in Lagoon and Moss Green ($5 each, homedepot.com) and Krylon Short Cuts Matte Spray Paint in Ripe Peach ($4, hobbylobby.com)—are all you need to bid adieu to any dusty decorations and play up their striking shapes. Arrange appetizers or cold drinks on top, and party on.

1. Clean

Use an adhesive remover, such as Goo Gone ($4.78, amazon.com) to get rid of any lingering sticker gunk. Remove dirt and grease by scrubbing with dish soap and a sponge. Dry with paper towels or a soft rag.

2. Sand

Smooth the front and back surfaces with 220-grit paper, then wipe them down with a microfiber cloth or damp paper towel. Wash again with dish soap; let dry.

3. Paint

Lay down a drop cloth outside in a shady spot. Place a used cardboard box in the middle and lean the tray against it. Shake the paint can well, then apply thin coats horizontally in a back-and-forth motion. Let dry completely. Repeat two or three times on each side.


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