Chalkboard paint has exploded in popularity within the DIY crafting community, letting you transform any smooth surface into a chalkboard wall. You can create endless crafts on interior surfaces with little more than the standard prep work and steps involved with normal painting.
You can use chalkboard paint on walls, allowing your kids to express their creativity with ever-changing drawings and fun artwork without drawing on the walls of your house. Or use chalkboard paint on a mirror to create a chalkboard art pad. Paint across your child’s dresser, so they can write the contents of their dresser on the outside of the drawer, making it easy to see what’s inside and keep their clothes organized.
Whether the items are decorative, structural, or furniture, you can use chalkboard paint on drywall, glass, wood, concrete, or metal. The creative possibilities are endless!
How Does Chalkboard Paint Work?
Dried chalkboard paint creates a chalky-textured surface. You can draw on it like a chalkboard with traditional chalk or chalk markers. The hard, scratch-resistant finish is similar to, although not as smooth as, natural slate. A faux chalkboard created with chalkboard paint feels rougher because of the paint’s properties.
Do not confuse chalkboard paint with chalky finish paint, which is often used for antiquing furniture. The latter creates a soft, matte-like finish you cannot write on.
What to Look for When Buying Chalkboard Paint
When you venture out to the local home improvement center or craft store to buy a specialty chalkboard paint, there are a couple of things to consider. Before purchasing chalkboard paint, it’s essential to decide on the formulation you want to purchase, what color your want the finished surface to be, and how much paint you need for the project.
The products available may depend upon your local store. If you can’t find the paint product you’re looking for, you can likely find it online after a quick search.
Chalkboard paint comes in two different options: either pre-mixed or a dry powder product.
- Pre-mixed paint is good to work with if you’re painting entire walls or larger surfaces, as it’s inexpensive and easy to use. It doesn’t require mixing, but color options are usually limited. Any leftover paint will break down over time, so it isn’t great for a small piece, since the remaining can’t be used to paint a later project.
- Dry powders require mixing, leading to a less than even paint consistency if you don’t follow the instructions precisely and use the correct amount of dry powder. However, a dry powder option is practical if you plan to paint your chalkboard wall with a fresh coat regularly. Powders will not expire or degrade, unlike an opened container of pre-mixed paint.
While a chalkboard is traditionally either black or dark green, you can purchase chalkboard paint in a range of colors and shades. Black chalkboard paint is the most common, but the choices available make it easy to pick the perfect one for any space. Darker shades show traditional chalk better (as well as chalk dust); lighter shades of chalkboard paint work well for chalk markers or a room you want to keep light and airy.
Every coat of chalkboard paint should come from the same batch for uniformity, so it’s best to buy one container for your project. You need about 4 ounces of chalkboard paint per coat to cover 10 square feet of wall. A minimum of two coats of chalkboard paint is recommended, but the project may require three or four coats of paint for even coverage.
How to Apply Chalkboard Paint
Painting a chalkboard wall is similar to painting any other wall in your room. But the process goes much more smoothly and has better results if you prep the wall correctly, use the right supplies, and follow the manufacture’s directions for painting and curing.
Chalkboard paint is very thin and doesn’t hide surface imperfections the way some paints do. Therefore, it’s crucial to prep everything well when tackling your DIY home improvement project. Before painting, it’s critical the surface is completely clean, dry, and prepared to ensure the chalkboard paint goes on smoothly and the paint adheres well.
- First, wash the wall with soap and water to remove any oils, dirt, or grime.
- Remove any flaking paint from the wall with a scraper or bristle brush.
- Fill any cracks or holes using wood filler or putty.
- Sand the surface until smooth and free from lumps and bumps using a sheet of fine-grit sandpaper.
- Gently wipe the wall using a damp cloth to remove any sanding dust. Avoid using a tack cloth because of the residue it can leave.
- (Optional, depending upon the item you are painting.) Paint the surface with primer for better adhesion, sand lightly, and wipe with a cloth to remove sanding dust.
- Allow the clean wall to completely dry.
- Use painter’s tape and mask off the edges of the chalkboard wall you want to paint.
Before painting, allow the chalkboard paint to come to room temperature and stir gently to mix the pigment. If stirred too hard, the paint properties that let you write on the surface with chalk can break down. Cover the floor with drop cloths or thin plastic sheeting to prevent paint drips.
Use a 6-inch dense foam roller for the best results. Start from the center of your chalkboard, working outward in small sections. Put a small amount of chalkboard paint on the roller and begin painting the wall. Use consistent strokes, overlapping the edges as you go, and wipe up any paint drips as they happen.
Allow the chalkboard paint to dry completely and apply another thin coat of paint, repeating the process until you achieve an even color on the wall. Two coats are usually everything you need to cover the wall, but you may need more coats of paint to get a consistent finished product.
Unlike some paints, any mess made using chalkboard paint is easy to clean up with soap and water.
Conditioning the Chalkboard Wall
Before using your newly painted chalkboard, let the paint cure for 24 to 72 hours (one to three days) and then condition the surface. This gets the chalkboard wall ready to draw on with chalk, making it easier to erase writings or drawings and create new chalk masterpieces, especially if you used black chalkboard paint.
Take a piece of chalk and lay it on its edge, rubbing the chalk lightly across the entire surface you painted. Make sure to go horizontally and vertically.
Rub the chalk powder into the chalkboard wall using a dry, clean cloth to create a surface with a consistent smoky black color.