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The Best Paint Trays and Buckets for Interior and Exterior Painting

Have a painting project on the horizon? Equipping yourself with the right paint tray will make any painting project easier, quicker and less messy.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Painting a Kids RoomAlexandra Grablewski/Getty Images

Choosing a Paint Tray

As anyone who has ever painted knows, selecting the right tools (or the wrong ones) can make or break the project. Paint trays are no exception. Let’s get right to it:

Features to consider

  • Size (nine inches wide is the most popular);
  • Composition (metal or plastic);
  • A sloped, ribbed surface to load paint or stain onto roller;
  • Paint well capacity (pints, quarts, gallons, etc.);
  • Ladder hooks.

Whether you’re working inside or out, paint like a master with these top-rated trays.

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Best Metal Paint Tray

If you want a tray that will be around for a while, choose this Deluxe Metal Tray by Wooster Brush. Made of heavy-gauge steel with a bright, rust-resistant finish, this larger-than-standard paint tray (11 inches) has a sturdy ribbed roll-off area to load paint evenly for smoother application.

Durable welded legs keep the tray level so there’s less slopping when moving it from place to place. Use form-fitting, disposable liners (sold separately) for easier cleanup.

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Best Plastic Paint Tray

The Wooster Brush Plastic Tray is made of tough, solvent-resistant polypropylene, so the legs won’t scratch surfaces like metal can. And the two-quart working capacity and molded rib design promises optimum paint loading and distribution. No need to use liners or wash the tray. As one Amazon customer unabashedly attests, “I’m quite amazed that you can just peel paint off this tray when it dries.”

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Best Hand-Held Paint Tray

Painting is never a static endeavor — there’s usually a lot of back-and-forth and up-and-down involved. The fire engine red HANDy Roller Cup is a portable, hand-held paint tray that’s ideal for small jobs and touch-ups. It holds up to a pint of paint or stain and accommodates mini rollers up to six inches wide. It is stable enough to leave on a flat surface, or pick it up by the comfortable handle and go.

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Best Ladder Paint Tray

Painting hard-to-reach places just got a whole lot easier with the Little Giant Ladder Paint Tray. This vertical wonder is constructed of a strong plastic polymer with a one-gallon capacity. It’s designed to mount on most Little Giant ladders using the adjustable hooks, but it also works as a standalone tray on the ground. It’s so versatile, it makes a great window-washing bucket too.

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Best Large-Capacity Paint Tray

Sometimes a regular paint tray doesn’t hold enough and a five-gallon bucket is overkill. The Bercom 7500-CC Handy Paint Tray with a deep-well capacity of one gallon hits the sweet spot.

Besides accommodating a standard nine-inch roller, other standout features include a built-in magnetic brush holder for quick cut-ins, ergonomic handles to make carrying easy, and a convenient corner pour spout for putting paint back in the can. With the plethora of upsides, it’s no surprise more than 80 percent of Amazon customers gave it a five-star rating.

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Best Tray for Painting Murals

About to embark on a mural painting project? One single paint tray just isn’t going to cut it, and using paper or foam dinner plates is wasteful. The Artlicious Paint Tray Palette with Thumb Hole (three pack) is configured with the contours of a traditional painter’s palette. Suitable for all water-based media, the molded, white plastic trays offer six round wells and four irregular wells for mixing colors.

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Best Value Paint Tray Kit

An exceptional value, the Bates Paint Roller Set comes with everything you need for almost any do-it-yourself or craft project. This comprehensive kit comes with a professional quality plastic paint tray that’s easy to clean, nine- and four-inch rollers with corresponding covers, a two-inch angle brush and a high-density foam brush.

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Best Small-Capacity Paint Tray

For those who keep their painting contractor on speed dial, the Precision Defined Supreme Four-Inch Paint Roller Tray Set (Two-Pack) is great for performing the occasional household painting tasks that don’t require a pro. Made of strong, high-quality plastic for use with four-inch rollers, it’s an excellent DIY tool for touch-ups and simple refreshes in and around the house.

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Best Paint Bucket/Tray Combo

Part tray and part paint bucket, the heavy-duty Wooster Brush Four-Gallon Bucket is easy to move around without spilling, thanks to its no-tip design and comfort grip bail. Made of durable seamless green polypropylene to resist solvents and discourage paint buildup, it features a 10-inch wide roll-off area that’s sloped on the bottom to keep paint or stain at the front of the bucket. That makes for easy loading of your roller.

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Plastic bagsStill AB/Shutterstock

Bonus: DIY Tray Liners Hack

Tired of washing out your paint tray or spending money on disposable liners? Repurpose your plastic grocery bags (plastic kitchen wrap works too) to make paint tray liners in seconds.

Take two bags, turn them inside out (so ink won’t bleed into the paint), then slip one over the top and the other over the bottom of the tray. Secure them in place with packing, masking or painters tape. When you’re finished, pour the unused paint back in the can, peel off the tape, carefully roll up the bags and place them inside a third bag to discard.

Toni DeBella
Toni DeBella is a freelance travel, lifestyle and digital content writer based in a medieval hill town in central Italy. Her work has been featured in such publications as Fodor's, The Telegraph, Walks of Italy, Italy Magazine, Frommers.com, Touring Bird (via [email protected]) and more. Most recently she authored the 2020 edition of DK Eyewitness Sicily travel guide. When Toni is not roaming around Europe, you'll find her tending her alley-side container garden or honing her clay-court tennis game.

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