Use MDF to build removable chalkboard panels that give the look of a chalkboard wall, without damaging or painting your actual walls!
Let’s be real for a second: I can be a bit basic.
I call going to Target “me time.” I drink iced coffee like it’s water. I throw down an awful lot of 2 Chainz raps about the ATL for someone who has only ever been to Little Five Points.
Suffice it to say, there was always going to be a chalkboard in my kitchen. Of course there was. Because #Basic.
And as it turns out, a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard was actually the perfect creative solution for a funky wall in our kitchen.
(Side note: if you’re wondering what the actual hell we were thinking when we decided it’d be a good idea to stop our tile backsplash several inches short of the crown molding, the answer is a frazzled “I don’t know, ok?!” Don’t worry, we fixed it).
To the right of our new wine / bar area, we have this sort of diagonal corner wall situation that juts out awkwardly. The previous cabinet configuration had utilized this funky corner for a triangular wine rack / shelf cabinet contraption (warning: NSFL).
Obviously that wasn’t going to happen again, which meant we’d have to find some other creative way of integrating this corner in with the rest of the bar / kitchen.
“Ummm duh, floor to ceiling chalkboard wall!” we decided in almost unison.
If you want to install any sort of large chalkboard surface in your home, the easiest method is applying chalkboard paint directly to your wall (keeping in mind that your walls need to be in pretty good condition, because any imperfections in your drywall = imperfections in your new chalkboard).
Since our walls were worse for the wear after the cabinetry was removed, we sashayed right over this option and on to Plan B: affixing a thin, cut-to-size chalkboard panel to the wall, right on top of the damaged drywall.
You can do this one of two ways — you can use pre-made chalkboard sheets (like this one), or you can DIY your own (marginally cheaper, infinitely more fun).
What we Used:
- Two 2×4 MDF panels
- Rust-Oleum Flat Black Chalkboard Paint
- Drywall anchors
Also Good to Have on Hand:
- Drill / drillbits
- Spirit level
- Britney Ever After on DVR
Step One: First we measured the wall to determine how big our sheet needed to be. After trim and crown molding, we were looking at a little over 8 ft high, by 24″ wide. We took these measurements to Home Depot to peruse our options, and found these great MDF panels that felt smooth, had crisp edges, and were lightweight yet sturdy.
They sure didn’t have any 2′ x 8-and-some-change‘ panels, but boy did they ever have some 2′ x 4’ sheets — meaning all we’d need to do was stack two on top of each other to create our ‘floor to ceiling’ look.
Step Two: Unless you live in some sort of strange parallel universe where everything always works out perfectly, you’ll probably need to cut the sheets to fit your space. I know what you’re thinking: the sheet is 2′ x 4′, the wall is 2′ x 8’… my 6th grade working knowledge of geometry tells me this should be fine.
Keep in mind that the actual measurement of these boards can vary… the sheets we picked up measured about 25″ wide, so we did need to shave off some width to make it flush with our wall.
If your DIY skill-set isn’t quite at the ‘large electrically powered cutting devices‘ level yet, fret not: Home Depot will cut these down for free in-store.
Since our chalkboard would butt up in an inside corner with the trim edge of our backsplash wall, I wanted to take some extra precautions to ensure that our boards would fit perfectly in the corner as well as being flush with the edge of the wall. So, rather than rely on measurements alone, I actually took the sheets home and put them in place, then used a pencil to mark exactly where I wanted the cuts made.
Nice and flush!
Step Three: Time to make some chalkboard magic happen!
I took my freshly cut boards outside and propped them up on some boxes. (Note: if you use MDF, handle these with care — those crisp edges won’t stay crisp if you they bump or bang into things!)
There are plenty of chalkboard paints to chose from, and a lot of your options come in both regular paint and spray cans. After reading some reviews, we went with Rust-Oleum’s chalkboard spray paint.
Spray paint just gives me the warm fuzzies. The metallic rattle of the ball bouncing around inside the can, that familiar brain cell-annihilating aroma… it reminds me of growing up, watching my dad haul engine parts and and dirtbike frames into the backyard to spray paint them.
I just love spray painting shit.
When I spray paint stuff, I usually find myself thinking thoughts like… “this is the easiest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” and “this is just a really pleasant experience.” Using this chalk paint was no different. The paint covers easily and dries to a matte finish almost instantly. It’s basically idiot-proof.
I applied my first coat (being sure to blacken the edges as well), then let the chalkboards bask in the glory of the winter sun for an hour before it was time for round two.
One can got me through the first coat on both boards (so about 16 sq ft of coverage). I needed a second can to start the second coat.
After applying the second coat, I let these guys spend another hour in the sun before bringing them inside to finish drying overnight.
Step Four: The directions indicate that after the paint has dried for 24 hours, you need to prep the board by using the edge of a piece of chalk to cover the entire thing, then erase.
I was like “sounds messy, but you’re the boss Rust-Oleum.”
I used some jumbo-sized Crayola sidewalk chalk to make quick work of this.
This step may seem silly, but I think there’s a point to it: once you erase, you’re left with a chalkboard that has that nice chalk-dusted look (rather than looking like the product of a Pinterest tutorial for DIY Vantablack).
Now you’re ready to be a terrible person, and do terrible shit like this:
(Even the dogs are looking at me like “what the hell, mom??“)
Step Four: The chalkboards spent a few days propped against the wall while we finished the tilework on our much-needed back splash extension. Then it was time to attach these bad boys chalkboard(s) to the wall.
There’s two ways you can go about this: the right way, or… the way I did it. I’m not sure how the right way goes, but I can tell about my way…
I’m a big fan of drywall anchors, so I decided to bust out my megapack and use them for this project.
I held the board against the wall and moved it into the position I wanted, making sure everything was perfectly lined up (all the while sining the opening bars of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” under my breath, to remind myself that I only had one shot, one opportunity to get this chalkboard hung right).
Once he was in place, I measured three evenly-spaced spots along the top of the chalkboard where I wanted my screws to go. I marked the spots with chalk (because #OMGChalkboard), then — keeping the board firmly pressed against the wall and completely stationary! — I drilled through both the board and straight into the wall with the drill bit specified by my drywall anchors.
Again, not necessarily the right way… just my way.
Pleasantly surprised that my idea had worked, I removed the board and pushed the plastic anchors into the wall. Then I got my chalkboard back up, lined up the holes with my newly installed anchors, and screwed him in place.
After the top was done, I repeated the process on the edge and bottom of the board (infinitely easier since the board is held in place at the top). Then I lined up my second board and did the same thing again.
Afterwards, I used a little bit of leftover chalkboard paint to dust the heads of the screws so they were less noticeable.
Annnnnd that’s a wrap:
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