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The Power of Painter's Tape, as Proven By These DIY Coasters

April 22, 2016

One sees a lot of coasters out in the world: monogrammed, stamped, embellished with a city map, a drinking quip, or covered in pretty paper. But when I spied a set of simple painted wooden ones in the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston's gift shop, a DIY dawned on me. There was something so simple and calming about them: clean lines, simple colors, gloss finish—that’s it. A refreshingly subtle (and incredibly functional) accessory for your home.

Remember those spongy foam brushes from 4th grade? They still exist. Photo by Bobbi Lin makes pre-cut wooden squares that are 1/8-inch thick—a.k.a, very very basic readymade coasters that are begging to be beautified. Because they’re even cheaper when bought in bulk (and because a handmade coaster set of four or six makes for a fantastic gift) I suggest buying a bunch of them at once and going the assembly-line route with this project.

Here's what you'll need:

How to make them pretty:

Peels of painter's tape make straight lines a breeze. Photo by Bobbi Lin

1. Map out the designs you’d like with the paint.

For straight lines, the tape itself works well as a guide—so long as you use real painter's tape, as washi or masking tape aren't always sticky enough to keep the paint from seeping through. For circles or less hard-edged designs, you'll want to cut the tape to work like a stencil.

Use the tape to cover the space that will not be touched by paint (so, the negative space). Whatever you leave blank (a triangle or square in the center, a line down the side or middle) will get painted.

Press over each line of tape firmly with your fingers once or twice to secure; this keeps the paint from seeping under the tape and ruining those clean lines.

Easy painted coasters! Photo by Bobbi Lin

2. Paint!

Lay the taped coasters out on a flat, covered surface and brush on the paint. Let dry completely, then slowly peel off each piece of tape to reveal your design.

If you want to make coasters with more than one color per piece (like these fabulous Areaware table tiles), you can repeat the above steps with a second color over a shape you’ve already made. Painter’s tape is sturdy but has a low adhesive quality, so it won’t ruin or remove what you’ve already done.

Once you have the supplies, this DIY takes just minutes to complete and is very customizable to your favorite colors or designs—but if you're looking for a different style or material here are a few other ways to go:

Do you DIY? Share the crafts you'd love to see us tackle, in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • kpfears
  • Laura Kaesshaefer
    Laura Kaesshaefer


kpfears April 24, 2016
How does one make them waterproof?
Laura K. April 25, 2016
To make the coasters more resistant to liquids, you could apply a thin coat of sealant at the end! Two sealants I recommend are below. Thanks!