Easy DIY Food Photography Backgrounds (in under $25!)

Take your food photography game to the next level with this super easy DIY tutorial. Even if you think you don’t have a creative bone in your body, you can make these. Best of all, they can be made in just under $25 each!

Ever lust over some photos on Instagram and think “man, I wish I could take photos like that?”

We’ve all been there. Heck, I’m still there.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my food photography skills. From styling and composition to equipment, my eagerness to learn is never complete!

One topic I’ve recently become obsessed with is new backgrounds.

And after drooling over Erickson boards and not wanting to fork up the $$$, I decided to Google some tutorials and wow, I was impressed and inspired. Then a friend of mine did a demo on how she made hers and that really encouraged me to take the plunge.

I’m artsy. I can do this.

So to Home Depot, we go!

** I would like to point out that this tutorial is based off several methods I found online. The tutorial is my personal spin on these tutorials.

DIY Food Photography Background Supplies:

supplies for making food photography backgrounds

I personally loveeee Home Depot (I know, weird) but if you find it overwhelming and hard to navigate, don’t fret! I’m here to lay it all out for you!


Paint: I bought Behr color samples in matte. You want matte paint so the surfaces are not reflective! $3.27 

Paint colors: You know the overwhelming selection of paint colors to choose from? Look for the cards with 3-4 colors on the same sheet. I got samples that are in the same family. You will want at least 2 colors from the same family to blend. (I purchased 7 to make 4 boards. 6 colors and 1 pure white.)

Paintbrush/foam sponges/regular sponges: Whatever variety you want really! I personally stuck to a paintbrush and regular sponges. I already had these so I did not include them in the cost.

Gloves: In the paint section. Not necessary, but it is a messy project. $1.98

Clear Matte Spray Paint Finish: In the spray paint dept. Great for protecting your boards from food stains! $4.48

All-Purpose Joint Compound: I found this in the contractor section of Home Depot (near all the building materials). There’s 3 different sizes that they carry and I purchased the medium size. One 1.75 pint covered about 2 boards. $4.58 ( I ended up needing 2 for 4 boards, so If you are making multiple, I recommend sizing up)

Putty knife: You should be able to find these near the joint compound. I already had one (the blue thingy shown) so I did not include in the cost, but they are very cheap.

BoardsI purchased 2’x4′ boards but they do sell 2’x2′ boards in the same material. $11.46 (I purchased 4 boards)

TOTAL: $84.35 or $21.08 per board.

How to make your own food photography background

steps on how to DIY a food photography background

Step 1: Using the putty knife, apply a thin layer of the joint compound. It’s okay to layer it in a messy way. More texture is ideal! Let dry completely (1-2 hours)

Step 2: Apply a second layer of joint compound in random patches (optional)

Step 3: Paint board with “base” color. I used the darkest color and then worked dark to light.

Step 4: Apply the next color by dipping paintbrush into paint and “dripping” paint on board. Use a sponge to blend the color.

Step 5: Add white paint in patches and blend (optional). Let dry overnight.

Step 6: Spray boards with clear matte spray paint.

yogurt bowls with grapefruit and honey on cream background

This board uses a darker creme, a lighter creme, and white paint.

Tips on painting food photography board:

  • Steps 3-5 listed above are a general rule of thumb. I used paint in the same “family” meaning different tints and shades. I started with the dark color and worked my way up.
  • Blend with a sponge. You can use a couple of different techniques. Add a lighter color on top and blend. Then add some dark paint back in if you want. This part is fun and there’s not really a “wrong” way to do it!
  • Add some white in patches to give a dimension look. This step is more obvious in the royal blue background (below)
  • Let the paint dry and evaluate. Sometimes it’s hard to tell how it’s looking when the paint is wet. Let dry, evaluate, and adjust as necessary. No hard set rules on how many layers of paint you have!

steps on how to DIY a food photography background

As you can see if figure 4, gloves are helpful. I had some blue fingertips going on for a day.

citrus fruits on blue background

In the top right corner is where I added some white in patches. It just helps to give the board more dimension!

This board uses a darker blue, a mid-tone blue, and white paint.

steps on how to DIY a food photography background

Color combination ideas + inspiration:

My photography style is different from yours so think about what colors work best for YOU!

I mentioned that I used more of a monochromatic color scheme where I used colors from the same paint swatch.

With a basic understanding of color theory, the background possibilities are endless!

  • Try complementary colors – blue with a hint of orange or copper, purple with gold tones, or mint with some pinks/reds would all be really pretty!
  • Try similar colors – pinks with orange undertones, blues with purples, etc.
  • Break the rules! – Do any color combo your little heart desires.

basket of blueberries on light grey background

This board uses a mid-tone blue/grey and a light blue/grey on top.

avocado on mint background with pink napkin

This board uses a light mint and white paint on top.

Video Tutorial:

I didn’t make a formal tutorial video, but I did document the process in my Instagram stories where I saved them in the highlights under “photo tips”.

If you are active on the gram and are interested, check them out!

How to Make a Photography Light Box
Food Photography Backgrounds for All Budgets
Color Theory for Food Photography
Food Photography Props

Did you enjoy this tutorial? Leave me a comment below!

2 thoughts on “Easy DIY Food Photography Backgrounds (in under $25!)”

  1. Hi, you mention “boards” but you don’t really say what the actual material is that you used. This would’ve helped me a lot. Thank you for the article, its just what I needed otherwise.


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