Chalking It Up

If there’s one thing I’m often focused on, it’s making spaces more functional. Whether it’s where I’m living, working, or playing, I always like a place to be organized for utility. I’m that person who scours the back-to-college organization products at the store this time of year even though I’m no longer in a dorm, and browses for new utility apps in the iPhone app store constantly, surprise, surprise.

Every wall can also be a canvas, lending itself to being more than just a place to slap some paint and hang up your art, and I know that these days, a lot of people take that thought and apply it in interesting ways throughout their own home. Some people create functional wall space in their offices by embracing the dry erase paint that’s sold in everyday big box stores. Others designate a wall in their kitchen as a chalkboard wall, making room for family schedules and grocery lists. Addiction to a having a well-utilized space hits hard in my own home: I’ve mounted shelves in the dining room, added built-in storage units, and made customized pegboard storage in my office.

I’ve actually been in the process of decorating a bedroom for my fiancee’s daughter, and one of the things I had in mind all along was to create a large chalkboard for her to transform into an artful mural, a place for her friend’s phone numbers, or a place to make a colorful reminder not to forget her gym shoes on Tuesdays.

Chalk Board Paint.

With the growing popularity of chalkboard walls, there are lots of options to consider as you plan for your own. Interested in seeing how ours is coming along? Keep on reading.

Prepping a kids room with a custom chalkboard can definitely be fun for all. At the store, we bought a few key supplies:

  • A piece of 2×4 1/4″ MDF board, $6 (we wanted a mountable/movable chalkboard instead of changing the entire wall itself)
  • High adhesion SmartPrime primer, $37 (on smooth surfaces, like MDF, I like to prime with this product)
  • Rust-Oleum Tintable Chalkboard Paint, $15
  • Drywall screws (optional, depending on how you’re going to mount your chalkboard)

At the store, we chose the tintable chalkboard knowing that it would be more fun in the soon to be girly bedroom, and left the store with it tinted in a very appropriate raspberry pink.

Tinted Chalk Board Paint.

At home, we started by priming the MDF on the largest flat surface we had available: the dining room table. We left it to dry for several days, moving it out of the way into another room once it was dried to the touch. Days is a long time to wait when kids are involved in the project, but the SmartPrime product really works well when it’s allowed to dry and anchor itself, so hang tight and give them another crafty assignment in the meantime.

Priming PDF to prep for chalk board paint.

Once the primer was set, we followed up with three coats of the raspberry chalkboard paint, adding one coat a day with a high-density foam roller until we could no longer see variances in the layers of paint, and were left with a very opaque, smooth surface. It took us 3 coats with the rich magenta color over white primer, but it may not take as many coats with the other color options that Rust-Oleum offers.

Painting the chalkboard

The finished product is great. The MDF surface is actually smoother to write on than even the painted chalkboard drywall that I’ve used before, and the color is different than any traditional black or dark green slate board, which makes it a little more fun.

Chalkboard, complete.

Once we finish painting the bedroom (a project on my to-do list this week), we’ll be installing the MDF directly onto a wall, becoming a semi-permanent canvas for us all to enjoy.

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at

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  5. Sara says:

    The phrase originated with the custom of marking bar tabs and scores on a slate in pubs. So, if we had Wins, Losses and Experience on a chalk board, we would write resources put into VoIP system proposal under the Experience heading and use what we learned this time to improve our chances next time.
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  6. Stephen George says:

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  7. Come to think of it, I may just make one for my niece!

  8. charlie says:

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  13. Oscar says:

    WOW!!! this is EPIC!!!! i cant thank you enough for this tutorial. i have been in need of a blackboard for my calculus and physics but i have had to negate my need due to the price for a large board. but then i stumbled on your awesome tutorial! thank you Emily! i wish you tons of brownie points for this! i plan on starting this project tomorrow so that i can use it by next week. i cant wait!!

  14. Carol says:

    I'd love a whole wall of pink chalkboard in my office!

  15. Patti says:

    This is a great idea, but have you seen the cool chalkboard murals from Elephants on the Wall? They would take these paints to a new level!! They have fun and unique designs that will make any kid LOVE his chalkboard.

  16. Amy says:

    Come to think of it, I may just make one for my niece!

  17. Amy says:

    What a fantastic alternative to the classic black board. If I had a daughter, she'd definitely be getting one of these!

  18. [...] but I’ll be back with an update soon. In the meantime, I think you’ll want to check out the chalkboard that we crafted for DIY Network. Pink infusion [...]

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About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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