D.I.Y Chalkboard: easy, inexpensive, and fun!

For the wedding we wanted to create a seating area next to the bar and we knew we needed something special to “anchor” the space. We went through a bunch of iterations and we finally settled on a chalkboard mural. Many of the other things we talked about would have been amazing but we were running out of time and wanted something with a large impact while being budget and deadline friendly.

Really this project was so easy that it basically doesn’t need a tutorial but we are all about inspiring the weekend projects so we are giving it to you anyway.

(1) Quart Chalkboard paint
(1) 4′ x 4′ Plywood Board (search for one in near perfect condition)
(1) Painters Tray
(1) Paint Roller (For smooth surfaces use a high-grade roller)

Optional Tools:
Chalk Fixative (we used Kylon Matte Finish)

First Stop was Home Depot (Lowes, lumberyard – they are all the same) We went into the plywood section and choose our wood based on size alone. (We choose 4′ x 4′ plywood board which was about $10) It’s important to know how you plan to use your chalkboard before you make it. This is because you want to get the right size for the room, consider the weight if it will be hanging and make sure you measure your car trunk and doorways to make sure it will make to its final destination. (I’ll admit I often forget about my not so large trunk.) We also grabbed a quart of Rustoleum chalkboard paint. The thicker brush on paint is better for larger projects the spray paint version is great for small crafts.

After we grabbed, pulled and kicked the plywood out of the car I set up a super professional station to paint it on. (i.e. a plastic table in the backyard and some Ikea chairs.) Because the board we bought was fairly thin it actually began to warp, to remedy this we simply painted both sides. Easy! Tip: Between coats of paint (including overnight) you can wrap your paint roller in a plastic grocery bag and tie or tape it shut. This way you don’t waste paint and more awesomely you don’t have to clean your brushes or rollers until you are totally finished.

It helped to do random strokes rather than straight lines which caused some paint “seams” that needed to be flattened down. But don’t over think it, in the end it was completely homogeneous, differences in thickness or darkness were and not at all noticeable.

We let it cure for 3 or 4 days as directed and I collected some images from the internet that I liked. Basically, we “concepted” what we wanted for the chalkboard design. We put it all into Photoshop to get an idea of what our finished project would look like. If you’re not Photoshop savvy just draw it out you can fix the balance issues easier at this point then when your drawing with chalk.

Finally I printed out our photoshopped concept image and used our image projector to trace out the outline of the larger graphics. We have a cheap “tracer” from Michael’s or AC Moore, I wouldn’t invest in one if this is the only project you’re doing because it’s very difficult to project a light image onto a dark background. It was helpful but we only used it for about 10% of the drawing.

Because we were transporting the chalkboard to our wedding venue we sprayed it with a fixative. This was helpful so that the drawings didn’t easily rub away but it also erased all the chalk dust which is important in creating depth in your drawing. We ended up tracing over our own drawings on site to bring it back to life.

Ashley Odell Photography

Hope this post will inspire you to get out and do a craft or project you have been putting off. This project kept being put on the back burner but when we finally got around to it was one of our quickest most enjoyable projects!

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