Craft Fair Tutorial: Pimp Your EZ-Up

Y’all, we are voiding warranties over at my house again today!

If you sell at craft fairs, you probably have (or you will have, after your first craft fair in the rain) an EZ-Up or something a lot like it. An EZ-Up is a 10’x10′ portable tent, the perfect size for craft fairs. It protects your stuff from the elements, is a sturdy piece of infrastructure for your own decorations, and serves as your storefront to the world during the entirety of the craft fair.

Sucks, then, that all EZ-Ups look alike.

If you’re brave, however, you can add some style to your EZ-Up WITHOUT wrecking it, like you know you’ve been afraid of doing. But fear no more! Here’s what you do:

You will need:

  • an EZ-Up or similar white craft fair tent
  • duct tape
  • outdoor-quality spray paint
  • outdoor-quality clear coat sealant

Before you begin, make sure that you absolutely WANT to pimp your EZ-Up. I don’t sell at shows that require all tents to be white or all materials to have certificates of fire-resistance, but do you? Think about it, and if you’re sure…

1. If your EZ-Up is brand new, you can skip this step. But if your tent has already spent a few hundred craft fairs getting pooped on by birds, the day before you want to paint it, you need to set it up and give it a good scrubbing. You only need to scrub the panels that you intend to paint, but they do need to be as clean as they’ll get. To clean my tent, I used the pressure spray on my garden hose, dish soap, and an honest-to-god scrub brush.

2. After your tent is completely dry again, get out your duct tape and figure out a design. I wanted my business name to LOOK really DIY and handmade, so I simply made letters out of duct tape and stuck them to the tent, with no design work beforehand. However, duct tape is extremely versatile, and you can also cut and carve it in whatever style that you want.

3. When your duct tape design is ready, stick the duct tape right to your tent. The tent fabric is chemical-treated in such a way that the duct tape behaves more like contact paper than anything–it will stick, but not tightly, and it will be simple to remove. In the same vein, be mindful when you’re applying the duct tape that you do stick it completely to the surface–any unstuck edges will ensure that your painted lines are not crisp.

4. Following the directions on your spray paint, paint your tent panels, painting over the duct tape to create a reverse stencil. You’re looking for a minimal amount of coverage here, to offer the least interference to the function of the tent fabric, so don’t cake the paint on, and don’t try for more than one or two coats. Done correctly, the paint will cover just the outside surface of your tent panel, NOT saturating the fabric through to the inside. Notice that on my tent, you can still see the spray marks; I went for just one light coat partly to emphasize that spray paint DIY look, but also because the thin coat really does work best.

5. When the paint is dry to the touch, peel off the duct tape and admire your stencil.

6. Spray a light clear coat over everything that you’ve painted, to make the paint even more weather- and light-resistant.

Any other ideas for making an EZ-Up look AWESOME?

6 thoughts on “Craft Fair Tutorial: Pimp Your EZ-Up”

  1. I loved the duct tape, too, but it’s really not that sticky! Half an hour into the craft fair, and I’d have been PUPKI+EAR instead of Pumpkin+Bear.

    I have a huge fondness in my heart for Ecospun felt, and a dark desire to collect all their colors.

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  4. How did the spray paint withstand? I’m considering decorating mine but I’ve read posts saying that the paint can make the canopy stiff and when putting it up and taking it down it can cause the paint to crack.

    1. It has never cracked and never faded! TBH it’s a little awkward now that I’m several years past doing craft shows yet still use my EZ-Up often for camping and other outdoor stuff to have two sides dedicated to my colorful branding, but I guess if it really starts to embarrass me I know how to paint over it, lol!

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