Tutorial: Family Chalkboard

With all the things going on in our lives, this family has really been in need of an organizational overhaul.  One of the things we are trying is a big “family chalkboard,” a place where we can write things down, keep track of school work, and generally just keep lists of things that need to get done in plain sight where we can check them off (oh, the happy feeling of checking items off a list!).  We didn’t want to just paint blackboard paint on our wall, because it can be hard to paint over.  We priced out some chalk boards at stores and they were expensive and not nearly big enough, so Hubby made this cute chalk board for us!  Here’s how:
You Need:
Chalkboard paint
Sponge paintbrush
Smooth, thin board (masonite works well, we used a 2 x 4 foot piece of very smooth birch)
Crown molding (enough to go around your board)
Miter box
Saw
Small wood screws
Picture hangers
You Do:
Choose the smoothest side of your large board. On a protected surface, paint the board.  USE A SPONGE BRUSH…we followed the directions on the back of the paint can and used a roller with a special, smooth roll-y-thing, and the results were disastrous.  This is why both sides of our chalk board are painted…the first side was unusable!  We had much better luck with the large sponge brush, and we wasted less paint using the brush as well.  Sorry the photo shows the roller…I didn’t get a chance to photograph the do-over.

You will want 2 or 3 coats of paint on your chalkboard.  Give it at least an hour between coats (more if you live where it’s humid) and wait a day after the last coat to fit the frame on the board.  As you paint, be very careful to keep it as smooth as possible, and alternate painting one coat with horizontal strokes, one with vertical etc.

Measure the molding and cut the ends at 90 degrees using a miter box.  This should look like the pieces in a picture frame.  The fun thing about making your own chalkboard is that there are lots of different kinds of moldings to choose from, so you get to have fun deciding what sort of frame you want!

Once your chalkboard is dry, screw the frame onto the board from the back (yep, here’s the messed-up back of ours….you can see the texture in the paint.  Rats.)  You will want to use screws every 6 or 8 inches to prevent the board from bowing and pulling away from the frame.  Measure and place your picture hangers (ours are 6 inches down from the top of the board).

Using the hardware recommended for your picture hangers, mount the board to the wall.  We used some kind of plastic sleeves on the screws in the wall, so we didn’t have to bother finding the studs (oh, wait…here’s one installing the chalkboard!).

And there it is!  All ready to go.  

To give you an idea of the scale, here it is in context  I think we maybe could have even made it bigger and it would have still looked ok. 

Here’s the chalkboard on its first day of use.  So far I have it divided into these sections:  Dad’s list, Mom’s list, Memory Verse, School, Chores, Meals, and a big area for kids to doodle.  I have just drawn in the sections with regular chalk so far, because I suspect we will mess around with them and change them a time or two before we are done.  Once we decide how to best use it, I will be drawing the sections and labels on with Bistro Chalk Markers, which is like chalk paint that dries and won’t erase unless you use water.  Then we can erase our lists and notes without losing our sections.
Have fun!  
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