Do It Yourself Chalkboard Paint

Make your own chalkboard

Painting a chalkboard on the wall can be both fun and practical. The most popular place for a do-it-yourself chalkboard is a kid's bedroom. Another good location to add a custom chalkboard is a home office. A chalkboard on the inside of a kitchen cabinet door can provide a place to keep a running shopping list. A garage or workshop is also a good place to incorporate a do-it-yourself chalkboard.

Picture of black chalkboard painted on bright green wallTo make a chalkboard is as easy as applying a few coats of paint. Chalkboard paint is commonly available from many paint supply stores. A quart of chalkboard paint is relatively inexpensive. You should be able to find a quart of paint for around $15. Most companies however sell chalkboard paint only in traditional chalkboard colors black or green. If you prefer, you can make your own chalkboard paint by following this simple recipe:

Chalkboard Paint Recipe

  1. One cup of latex based flat finish paint any color.
  2. Two tablespoons of unsanded tile grout.

Mix thoroughly and you are ready to apply. One cup of paint should be enough for approximately 20 square feet. You may want to mix at least two cups paint if you plan on creating a chalkboard larger than 4 feet x 4 feet.

Step 1 - Prepare the surface

Before painting make sure to prepare the surface properly. Chalkboard paint can be applied to drywall, wood, plastic (if primed properly) and pretty much any other surface that you can paint with traditional latex paint. Unpainted surfaces should be primed with a good quality primer to seal the surface. The primer should be lightly sanded using 120-150 grit sandpaper. Between coats of chalkboard paint you should use 200-400 grit sandpaper to lightly sand the surface. This not only helps increase adhesion but promotes a smooth finish product.

Step 2 - Tape off the edges

Once you have prepared the surface, tape off the area to paint with good quality painters tape. Painters tape comes in a variety of colors and applications. Make sure to look for masking tape that provides superior bleed through protection. Low quality masking tapes tend to allow paint to flow underneath creating uneven borders.

Step 3 - Choose the right applicator

If you are using a roller to apply the paint make sure to choose a low knap or foam roller cover as these will create smoother finishes. A smooth finish on a chalkboard ensures a good drawing surface. If you have access to a high-pressure suction-fed paint spray gun like those used for auto body repair work you will be able to create the smoothest of surfaces. Generally speaking, applying chalkboard paint with a ⅜ inch knap roller cover or mini roller is just fine. A minimum of two coats of paint is recommended however more may be necessary depending on coverage.

Step 4 - Let the paint cure before using

Finally, make sure to wait a minimum of three days before using your finished chalkboard. Before writing on the surface you must prep the new chalkboard. To prepare your chalkboard, take a stick of chalk and using the side of the chalk (not the tip), rub chalk along the entire surface of the chalkboard leaving a film of chalk. This film can be erased and then you can draw and erase normally. If you wish to wipe the chalkboard clean with a damp cloth wait a minimum of 8-9 days to allow the paint to fully cure. Each time you clean the board with a damp cloth you will need to prep it again as outlined above.

Further Considerations

Making a chalkboard that is perfectly smooth is very difficult. Chalkboards are traditionally made from slate because of it's natural characteristics including it's smoothness. To make a perfectly smooth chalkboard you need both a smooth surface and good paint applicator.

Smooth Surface for Chalkboard Paint

If you are applying chalkboard paint to a drywall surface, you need to ensure that the surface is as smooth as possible. Even if you have a smooth wall to start with, you should apply a skim coat of drywall mud to fill in any unseen imperfections. Either the drywall paper or previous coats of paint leave a slight texture that needs to be skimmed out.

Best Roller for Chalkboard Paint

The best method for applying chalkboard paint is a high-pressure suction-fed paint spray gun. Spraying paint in this way leaves no orange peel texture when it dries. If you don't have access to a spray gun, you can try using the chalkboard paint that comes in aerosol spray cans. If you decide to use a paint roller to apply chalkboard paint, make sure to use the finest nap paint roller that you can find. The best paint rollers for smooth applications are mini foam rollers. Also, when rolling chalkboard paint, try to keep the edge wet because a roller that is too dry can leave texture marks.

Can you use chalkboard paint on textured walls?

Chalkboard paint is basically the same as other types of paint. You can use it on all drywall surfaces including textured drywall. However, if you use chalkboard paint on textured drywall walls, the chalk will easily get embedded in the crevices. Drawing with chalk on textured walls will leave crooked lines.

Another option is whiteboard paint. Check out this article to find out how to paint a whiteboard.