A Pretty DIY Chalkboard for Any Decor

January 15, 2019

Combine a piece of scrap wood, DIY chalkboard paint, craft foam cutoffs and your own creativity. The result? This pretty chalkboard you can use anywhere in the house.

finished DIY chalkboard
Use any colors or style you like on this handy DIY chalkboard and memo center.

Painted chalkboards have been around since the 1800s. They were an alternative to the more expensive slate boards. But the chalkboard paint recipe has changed significantly. While today we use non-toxic joint compound or powdered putties, teachers of yesteryear made their chalkboard paint by mixing kerosene, varnish, lampblack (soot), and pumice. It was finished with a coat of dry white lead. We think you'll find our Granny Taught Me recipe much easier - and safer, too!

Step-by-Step Directions:

scrap wood and sandpaper
1. Find a piece of scrap wood that fits the intended location of your chalkboard. If you don't already have something suitable, visit your local home improvement store and check their cutoffs bin.

wood after completely sanded
2. Sand the side you intend to paint until it is smooth when you rub your hand over it. It is best to start with coarse sandpaper, then move to a medium grain, and finish with fine sandpaper. When you're done sanding, remove all remaining particles with a soft cloth.

paint tape around chalkboard area
3. Tape off the area where your chalkboard will be. Be careful to place the tape on the inner edges of this area, to protect it when you paint the border around the chalkboard.

border around chalkboard painted
tape removed from border
4. Paint the border around the chalkboard in a color of your choosing. As soon as you're finished painting it, remove the masking tape so it doesn't dry to the paint.

chalkboard area edges taped
5. After your border paint has thoroughly dried, place masking tape along the outer edges of the chalkboard boundary. (Yes, the tape will cover your border paint.) This creates the area where you'll apply chalkboard paint, and protects the surrounding border.

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chalkboard area painted with base coat
6. It's time to choose the color for your chalkboard. You can use the same color as your border, a darker shade of that color, or a contrasting color. (We chose a darker shade of the border color.) Remember, though, to pick a color on which chalk will easily show. Once you've picked your chalkboard color, fully combine a teaspoon of this paint with two or three drops of water. This is called a paint "wash." Mix thoroughly and use a brush to paint a base coat of this wash onto the chalkboard area. Allow it to thoroughly dry before proceeding.

chalkboard paint ingredients
prepared chalkboard paint
7. Using the recipe found here, prepare your chalkboard paint.

applying chalkboard paint
8. Apply chalkboard paint with a foam brush. Use at least two thin and even coats, and preferably three. Allow each coat to dry before applying the next.

chalkboard paint saved in recycled bag
9. Use a recycled plastic bag to prevent the chalkboard paint and paintbrush from drying out in between coats.

10. Wait at least two hours for the chalkboard paint to dry. Then, decorate the border anyway you choose. Stencils or decoupage are a good choice. We chose a simple freehand design.

craft foam pocket
11. After your border decoration has fully dried, cut a piece of craft foam to fit the lower edge of the wood. If you don't have craft foam, a piece of clear vinyl (recycled from sheet or blanket packaging, for instance), a scrap of leather, or any stiff fabric will do. Attach it to the wood with thumbtacks.

12. Before using your chalkboard you must prime it. To prime your chalkboard, rub a piece of chalk over its surface, then gently remove the chalk with a damp cloth. Allow to thoroughly dry. Thereafter, use a chalkboard brush or soft dry cloth to remove chalk markings.

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