LARGE DIY Chalkboard on a Budget

Does being a teacher automatically make you a chalkboard lover? My research seems inconclusive so far, I’ll keep you posted as the official results trickle in. In the meantime, I do have one proven fact to share.

FACT: this teacher appreciates a good ol’ chalkboard.

Ironically, I do not have any chalkboards in my classroom, actually none in the entire building come to think of it. We are all about dry erase boards these days or even “SmartBoards” in the really FANCY classrooms. I hope neither of the those options make their way into my home…. ever. A good chalkboard? Now that is one handsome look I will always welcome with open arms.

DIY ChalkboardAnd when I needed a functional & fashionable & affordable space filler to finish off my little office nook, I knew I could lean on my ol’ friend the chalkboard to come through for me. One problem… I could not find a chalkboard this size anywhere (and definitely not any where for an affordable price). So, I did what any DIY-lovin’ lady would do. I built my own!

How to Make a DIY Chalkboard

Approximately $40 later, I had a custom sized DIY chalkboard that was very much a ROOKIE level DIY. <<< I swear!

chalkboard beforeThis is how the board started. Just a large piece of plywood. I don’t know the exact measurements off hand, all I know is that it is about as big as a regular size doorway. How do I know that? Welllllll, because I scraped this bad boy trying to carry it back in from the garage. #fail
plywood beforeOnce I brought this sucker home, I got to work. Before we get into the details — tiny disclaimer. Please excuse the sub-par photography of my photos. Working full time + early fall/winter darkness + crazy busy weekends with no time for DIY = having to squeeze this DIY project in each evening when I got home from work.

A.K.A working on this at night = bad photography.paint brushI think it was those late nights that also contributed to me DELETING the photos of the chalkboard’s border before I put them on my computer. #teardops #anotherFAIL

So unfortunately, I do not have a visual aide to walk you through my process, just the iPhone photos I took to send Casey in the process. I’m still upset about it… trust me. But life goes on and so does the chalkboard tutorial, with photos or without.

Here’s a step-by-step list of what I did:

1. Lightly sanded the board

2. Primed the board using white primer I had on hand. (This step helps cut down on the amount of chalkboard paint you have to use. Since chalkboard paint is more expensive than regular primer, I’d rather use more primer… less chalkboard paint).

3. Let the primer dry and lightly sand so that the chalkboard paint sticks to the board flawlessly.

4. Wipe off dust from the light sanding.

5. Using a small sponge roller, paint the entire board with chalkboard paint and let this layer dry.

6. Repeat the last step at least 5 times. The more layers of chalkboard paint you put on, the easier it will be to write on/erase the chalkboard later on. Make sure you lightly sand in between each coat.

****Here’s where I deleted my photos******

7. I painted the wood strips I used for the border white. They came primed and cut to size, but I wanted an extra layer of crisp white to make them look extra clean and polished.

8. Using the same method I used on my laundry room cabinets (explained in detail here), I glued the white border pieces around the chalkboard and clamped the wood using these clamps for 24+ hours.

9. When I removed the clamps, I was left with this…

DIY ChalkboardI put one picture hanger on the back-middle part of this chalkboard and hung it on the wall, just like I would a regular picture. The hanging chalkboard is sturdy enough for me to write on it while it hangs on the wall, BUT if I was having kids write on it, I would DEFINITELY take more  precaution and anchor it to the wall so it’s really secure.

chalkboard 1

Now, onto what the last step and possibly one of the most important. It’s what we call “conditioning the chalkboard”.

Before you write your message, you want to break your chalkboard in. To do this, all you need is a piece of chalk and an eraser.

You hold the chalk on and color a layer of chalk over the entire board. Then you take your eraser and erase it all in a circular motion. You have successfully “conditioned” your chalkboard!! Now it’s time for the fun part…

chalkboard4… your masterpiece! Since the board is all “conditioned” it is much easier to write on and much easier to seamlessly erase when you make an error. I went with the holiday theme for my first masterpiece, but I’m excited to change it up every holiday. Thanks to the conditioning step, I was able to make mistakes, erase, yet you aren’t able to tell (I hope!) where exactly this happened on this picture.

Right now the board is acting as a purely decorative piece of fun art, but since the chalkboard lives in the office, I think it will serve as a functional piece someday too. I’ve been known to LOVE a solid to-do list… or 5. I can only imagine that crossing off an item on this LARGE to-do list will be even more satisfying than on a mini one. background chalkboardSo after this project is all said and done, I’m happy to report that the $40 customized chalkboard was well worth the late nights in the garage! I’m still not happy about deleting the photos, but I am pretty excited with the newest addition to our office. And I’m no science teacher, but I’m pretty sure my hypothesis was accurate…
christmas office tour

 FACT: This teacher’s love for all things chalkboard continues…


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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