Here’s How to Make a DIY Tiled Drink Tray That Serves Up Style Indoors and Out

published Apr 26, 2021
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Drink tray holding tropical drink
Credit: Cat Meschia

Tiles are often part of big projects — namely, as kitchen and bathroom backsplashes — but current styles are widening their appeal. You’ve likely spotted tiles everywhere from chic planters to bold consoles, and it couldn’t be more exciting. Tile is durable, easy to clean, simple to apply, and comes in a myriad of colors, shapes, and sizes. Alongside numerous grout options, tile is a DIYer’s dream. 

The popularity of small-scale tiled objects also couldn’t come at a better time. Spring is the ideal trend to take outside. If you’re imagining long afternoons spent in your outdoor space, with refreshments and snacks in hand, then you should consider making a tiled drink tray as your next project. Whether upcycling an existing tray or personalizing a new one, consider this an opportunity to show off your DIY skills as you serve. 

Here, I used Carrara marble tile in a parquet pattern that I’d always wanted to try but hadn’t worked up the nerve to do a backsplash in yet. This drink tray project is perfect for testing out different tile samples or playing around with mosaics, but no one would blame you if you simply needed an excuse to bring happy hour into the sunlight. When you’re ready to come inside, you can use this tray to keep odds and ends organized. 

While I can’t promise that you’ll suddenly feel like you’re on vacation, I can say that this DIY tiled drink tray will make each spring day feel a little more special. Follow along with this easy, beginner-friendly DIY, and let’s cheers to warmer days ahead.

Credit: Cat Meschia

What you’ll need to make a tiled tray:

Credit: Cat Meschia

1. Paint or stain your tray.

Layer a nice, even coat of high-gloss paint on to your tray using a brush or can. The high-gloss paint will make it easier to clean.

If you want to enhance the look of your tray’s wood instead, you can stain and seal it with a high-gloss water-based polycrylic finish.

Credit: Cat Meschia

2. Lay down the tile mat.

Cut your tile mat to fit inside the tray. I found it easier to align the tile in the tray if I kept the tile mat slightly away from the tray’s edges. This allowed me to align the tiles in each corner before pressing them down. 

You can also use a traditional tile adhesive instead of a tile mat. Just note that adhesive can take up to 24 hours for it to fully set, while the tile mat is immediately ready to grout and doesn’t require extra tools.

Credit: Cat Meschia

3. Apply the tiles.

Starting in a corner edge, apply your design to the tile mat. Leave a small gap between the tiles for grout.

Credit: Cat Meschia

4. Fill in the tile gaps.

Mix your grout according to the package instructions. Work the grout into the corners and crevices with the grout float and wipe away the excess for a smooth finish. Wipe down the sides of the tray.

Credit: Cat Meschia

5. Clean the grout lines.

As soon as the grout has set, gently use a damp grout sponge to further smooth the grout lines and remove any grout from the tile surfaces. Don’t worry if you see a “grout haze” after wiping. Once the grout completely dries, it’ll buff out easily with a soft cloth.

Credit: Cat Meschia

6. Let dry and serve up.

Your tray’s ready for morning coffee, happy hour drinks, or nighttime tea. Cheers!