painting sunny

On The Right Track: DIY Train Board (Video Tutorial)


Beyond excited = me sharing this, finally! Our son Lo’s birthday was this past December, and I spent the week beforehand in a mad rush to finish this DIY train board in time for his party. Well, it was sort of finished… all but the sealer that would make it possible for him to play with it without destroying the paint in 2.1 seconds. Living in Indiana, naturally the weather didn’t warm up enough to seal the table with any sort of ventilation until… 4 months later. This was not instant gratification.

Lo really liked his little round-a-bout Thomas train set (seen below in top-right corner of the pic) so we knew we wanted to expand it at some point. We hit up Amazon for a Melissa & Doug track set that came complete with another train, and is compatible with both Thomas and Brio train sets. M&D always saves the day…

Check out this beauty!

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

The kids have so much stuff, we like to brainstorm gift ideas that capitalize on something they already have. Instead of more toys, they end up with better versions of what they had. Well, last Fall Young House Love posted their own DIY train board and the little idea particles in my brain sudden came together. The idea of making the table flat, so it can more easily slide out of the way? Genius.

YHL was the most spot-on tutorial and inspiration for me, but some other Pinterest-worthy ones are at Bits and Pieces of the Better Life and little house blog.

Want to see it in action? It is holding up great, and the kids play with it almost every day… and I put that fine art degree I’m still paying off to good use. Gotta get my money’s worth.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

Here is the “before” picture. I assume it was part of a kitchen counter, maybe the top to a kitchen island? I discovered it in the old-kitchen-construction area at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore for something like $12 as I recall. I love that place so much! I gave it a quick rough-up with very grainy sand-paper.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

This blog has helped me to test my comfort-level a bit, but I am still camera-shy. Irony being ever-present in my life, my husband really enjoys photography and actually does videography work occasionally. It comes in very handy sometimes, but means I’m frequently ducking behind a potted plant.

Well, he must have psychically realized I would soon have a blog, and as I worked on this project he filmed it for me. Let’s all ignore the fact that I am basically in PJs and might not be wearing any makeup. Yikes.

You can briefly see where I sketched it out on paper beforehand, and how I filled in the areas.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

As you can see from the video, I sketched an outline on the board of what landscaping I wanted. I used acrylic paints, brushes, etc. I already had on hand. If you’re doing this, you can find really affordable options at most craft stores, and for this project could get away with only a few colors. I was going for a slight hint at realism, so did a bit more blending of colors.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

To finish off the edges of the table, I used painters table pressed down very tightly over the edges of my painted area, using plastic trash bags to cover the main surface (as seen above). I then used the color Seaweed by Krylon Indoor/Outdoor paint in gloss finish. It is a very natural looking color, so fit the bill.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

See the damaged area in the middle of the table, pictured above? Well, that’s what I get for letting him play with it before it was sealed. There were quite a few scratches in the paint, so I busted out my blue and green paints and did a quick touch-up and let it dry for about 20 minutes.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

I used Old Masters Interior Water-Based Poly-Urethane in Semi-Gloss for the sealer, which was highly recommended by my paint guy (at our local Bloomington Paint & Wallpaper store). He said it was safe for something a child would frequently touch, and pretty much fume-free when applying. I was really impressed with how true that last part was. Painted it right in the kitchen (not while cooking) and it was fine! It only took maybe 1/10 of the quart so I have a lot left for future projects. I applied it with a foam mini-roller.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

The directions recommend letting it dry two hours after each coat, applying three coats, and lightly sanding it with low-grit sand-paper between coats. I was nervous when sanding, but it turned out just fine.

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

Here she is without the train parts, all finished!

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny

My favorite part is the ocean, for sure. The little white flecks along the break-line just bring the whole thing together. I would totally take a train ride along this coast!

DIY Train Table | Painting Sunny … and the classic helicopter view. The track just barely fits on the board, but stays put pretty well considering we chose not to permanently attach it to the board. It can be put in several configurations, so we wanted to keep our options open.

Any other must-see train tables and boards out there? Preferences on track brands? This seems to be a BIG deal on the internet, with Brio and Thomas having die-hard fans. The Melissa and Doug version being reversible and the much more reasonable price bought my loyalty! I’m thinking a play-kitchen will be next on the kids big-gift list…


Author: Dani @ Painting Sunny

Hi there! I'm Dani, and it's lovely to meet you. My little family just moved to the quaint little college-town of Ithaca, NY and are loving it. Come hang out with me and talk about food, books, art, and other odd little things.

2 thoughts on “On The Right Track: DIY Train Board (Video Tutorial)

  1. Wonderful techniques! This turned out so lovely and I love the YouTube video as well. Looks like Lo is loving it!

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