DIY Decor Laundry Room

DIY MAGNETIC CHALKBOARD

chalkboard detail

Growing up, my mom had a small chalkboard that sat on the kitchen counter next to the coffee maker. She’d always write little messages for me and my brother – like encouraging words on math test days (Both me and my brother are artsy, and therefore, bad at math.) and the annual birthday and Christmas countdowns. Therein lies my love of chalkboards.

For the past few months, Greg and I’ve been keeping an eye out for something to turn into a chalkboard to go in the utility room. For a while, I thought about maybe using an old single-panel door and painting the inside of the panel with chalkboard paint. Then I could put a doorknob on it to serve as a hook for Bentley’s leash. That would be a really cool idea if only I could find a door that didn’t cost $180+. Plus, when I tried to picture it in my head, it seemed kinda bulky. So then I moved to plan B: a frame. I searched for literally months for an old frame that was long enough. Finding one wide enough was never a problem – it was the length that fell short. Then, it happened. I was at a local thrift store, The Love of Jesus Thrift Store for your Richmonders, and lo and behold there it was: a huge, slightly distressed (which was a good thing!), 28″ x 52″ wood frame. It was perfect. And, get this… it was only $1! Yes. One. Dollar. Uno denero. Even though there were only like five other people in the store, I went after it like a Mom on Black Friday 1996 diving for a Tickle Me Elmo.

The night I brought it home, my dad came over to say hi. Btw, if I haven’t mentioned it before, my parents live just across the street. When he saw this big beauty leaning against the wall, he said, “What is that?”. “Potiental, Dad. Potiental,” I responded. I explained to him what we were going to do with it and all he said was, “Uhh… okay.” Little did he know, I had plans. Big plans!

After going back and forth several times, we decided to not paint the frame. The original wood color was very close to the floors, and it really popped against the blue walls. Plus, we’ve already got the green dresser, and we didn’t want to add a crazy-colored frame for it to compete with. As for the chalkboard part, we thought about just painting over the artwork. The backing was nice and sturdy, but it had a lot of really deep scratches that would have shown up even after several layers of paint, so that was a no go. Instead, we decided to buy a piece of wainscoting, have it cut to size, then apply a few coats of magnetic primer followed by chalkboard paint. Then we got smart! We realized it would be really easy to just skip the magnetic primer step, buy a piece of sheet metal, and paint it with the chalkboard paint. Duh! So that’s what we did.

Lowe’s, Ace, True Value and Home Depot all sold sheet metal, but only up to 2 x 3 feet. We needed something more along the lines of 2 x 4 feet. Luckily, my dad “knows a guy” for just about every situation, and this was no different. Being in the access control business, he gets to know a lot of people in the construction industry, and he just happened to “know a guy” who supplies sheet metal to construction companies. As it turns out, they end up with a decent amount of scrap metal that they sell for a pretty reasonable price. We were able to get a sheet of steel for $20 and even had it cut to the exact size we needed! How cool is that?!

Once we had the sheet metal, we gave it a few good coats of primer on both sides to prevent rust. Then we coated the front side with chalkboard spray paint. After about three coats, we realized it wasn’t going to cut it. It was really splotchy and even after three coats, didn’t seem to be covering the metal very well – even with primer. We switched gears and picked up some Valspar Matte Chalkboard paint. Simply put, this stuff is the bomb dot com. I painted it right over the splotchy spray paint with a small foam roller. After just one coat, the board looked so much better and as smooth as butter. Even though one coat looked like it was enough, I ended up doing three coats for good measure.

Now came the fun part: finding a way to secure a 20-pound piece of sheet metal into a 20- to 30-year-old frame that was made for a 2-pound piece of artwork!

Enter our best friend: Liquid Nails. We prepped the frame by taking out the artwork, removing all the staples, and unscrewing the lightweight picture hanging hooks from the back of the frame. After checking the fit of the sheet metal in the frame  – It was a very tight fit, thanks to my dad’s ninja-like measuring skills – we put a bead of liquid nails on the lip of the frame, pressed the metal into place, set some heavy stacks of books on top of it, and let it sit.

Twenty four hours later, we put a second layer of Liquid Nails on the back side of the metal (we applied it like you would a caulk line) just for extra security. At that point, we had done all we could. Either the frame was going to fall apart under the weight, or it was going to be rock solid. I have to admit, when Greg picked it up the first time after the glue had dried, I was a little nervous, but it was absolutely, 100% rock-solid. This baby ‘aint going anywhere!

Greg attached two small (yet reasonably heavy-duty) D-shaped rings to the back of the frame with screws, adding a little bit of our BFF Liquid Nails to each screw. Then it was ready for hanging and chalking…

This entire project only cost 36 bucks. The frame was $1, the sheet metal was $20, and the roll-on chalkboard paint was $15. We already had the roller, primer (and the chalkboard spray paint that didn’t work out) left over from another project, and Liquid Nails is a staple around here… kinda like Cholula hot sauce.

Greg and I are both crazy in love with it! The texture of the Valspar paint is what I consider to be “perfect chalkboard texture” and our Crayola chalk writes on it really well and, just as importantly, erases like a dream with a damp paper towel.

For a bit of a quirky touch, we left the art plaque on the frame. It’s a cool way to remember where the frame came from.

I hate how my wide angle lens makes everything look grainy and the walls look bowed — the walls are straight. Promise. We really like how it helps fill up the laundry room a bit more. But the best perk… Christmas countdown! ; )

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46 Comments

  • Reply
    Dennis Bullock
    May 30, 2012 at 11:13 am

    So awesome guys!

  • Reply
    Ashley P
    May 30, 2012 at 11:20 am

    LOVE this project. I wish I had enough room on my kitchen walls to do this exact size. Might have to downsize and squeeze it in anyways 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    Heidi
    May 30, 2012 at 11:24 am

    It looks amazing! I think when the hubs and I redo our kitchen we’d include something similar either on the side of a cabinet or on the inside of a cabinet door.

  • Reply
    Ashley {GirlyObsessions}
    May 30, 2012 at 11:25 am

    I love it and I love the modern/vintage combo! We painted a small wall in our kitchen with chalkboard paint and I love it! Even though the OCD part of me didn’t use it for months because I didn’t want to get it messy…I have issues! Now it contains a lovely Honey-Do list! 🙂

  • Reply
    Robin @ our semi organic life
    May 30, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Wow I’ve been reading your blog for a while but never knew you lived in Richmond (me too!)! I love Love of Jesus. They have great stuff in that back corner… but what’s up with how expensive their massive chair collection is?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      May 30, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Yep, Richmond born and raised! I’ve never noticed the expensive chair collection – but then again, I’ve never really looked for a chair yet, haha. I love their knick knacks and obviously, the frames! You can’t beat $1!

    • Reply
      Robin @ our semi organic life
      May 30, 2012 at 11:47 am

      Well next time you’re there and in the mood for a single chair – be warned a semi-decent chair will set you back $45! (or more!) What? Crazy. Gotta love them though!

  • Reply
    Naomi
    May 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    That’s so cool that you did a post on this! I’m working on doing that as the backsplash in my kitchen 🙂

    ♥ Naomi {Starry Eyes + Coffee Cups}

  • Reply
    Carrie @DreamGreenDIY
    May 30, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    That. Is. SO. Cool!!!! Way to go! Kicking myself for not having stopped in at The Love of Jesus while in Richmond last weekend…You’ve inspired me =)

  • Reply
    Sandra
    May 30, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    This is awesome!! I am definitely going to do something similar for my kitchen.

  • Reply
    Ashley
    May 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    My favorite part is how the little plaque kinda looks like a handle that would swing open to reveal a hidden cabinet (or not hidden, since it would have a handle…)!

  • Reply
    Lori
    May 30, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    Looks great! It’s great having a resourceful dad 🙂

  • Reply
    Ruth
    May 31, 2012 at 2:58 am

    Having a dad who “knows a guy” is key!
    Also, How come your utility room is so need and tidy???
    Love the chalk board!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      May 31, 2012 at 11:13 am

      Haha! Well, we just finished organizing the utility closet, and thankfully that helps everything stay neat. However, the top drawer in the dresser is considered our “junk drawer” at the moment… so there’s mess… it’s just concealed. : )

  • Reply
    Beth
    May 31, 2012 at 8:35 am

    As long as you don’t get the Liquid Nails mixed up with the hot sauce! 😉 I love the project – my friends did this on a hallway door and it’s great but I like the portability of yours.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      May 31, 2012 at 11:14 am

      Oh dear! I just got a visual… Maybe I should label the Liquid Nails, haha. Any excuse to pull out the label maker!

  • Reply
    Steph
    May 31, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Very cute and functional! And I completely understand the tunnel vision at the thrift store. When you find the right thing you gotta swoop in and get it because if it’s any good it’ll be gone in a flash!

    Great job, guys!!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    June 1, 2012 at 11:02 am

    Love the project. I agree with others that I like the little tag on the side, gives it character. What did you do with the painting?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 1, 2012 at 12:02 pm

      Thanks! At the moment, it’s in the shed. It’s really banged up, so it might become the base for another project at some point.

  • Reply
    Katrina
    June 1, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Its so cute love it! I also like that you left the frame alone, it looks good!

  • Reply
    Alison
    June 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    Ashley, do you use Lightroom to process your images? If so, it has an AWESOME tool for fixing the distortion any wide angle lens creates (e.g. bowed walls). It works pretty much automatically, so is super fast and easy (although you can make manual adjustments too). If you don’t use LR but take a ton of photos with your wide angle lens, you might seriously want to consider it just for this reason. LR is also great for noise reduction, which would help you minimize the grain.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

      Hmm, I don’t use Lightroom but I’ve been hearing a lot about it recently. I should definitely check it out! I’m still learning the ins and outs of my camera and photography in general… obviously! haha Thanks for the tip!

  • Reply
    Bryan Cooper
    June 5, 2012 at 2:33 am

    I’m totally going to do this! Thanks for the awesome inspiration.

    As Alison mentioned, Lightroom (and Photoshop) will help you make those walls not so sad and weepy! There’s a super-in-depth article here http://scotthargisphoto.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/correcting-verticals-redux/ when you feel like taking that on. 🙂

    • Reply
      Ashley
      June 5, 2012 at 10:34 am

      Awesome! Thanks for the link : )

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    July 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Way late to this party (just found you via iheartorganizing – and hello from a fellow Hanover-ite! We live near Atlee H.S. in an old farmhouse I’m trying to update) but if you’d like a little color for your chalkboard (especially for that Christmas countdown!) have you seen these? – http://www.chalkink.com/ChalkInk.com/Homepage.html

    I have a chalk-chore-board for my four kids – there are four lists of chores (grouped by zone) and I just change the name above the list each week. The list doesn’t get smudged and the kids have fun with the colors adding seasonal doodles in the blank spaces.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      July 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

      Nice to have a Hanover visitor! Thanks for the link, I’ll definitely have to check those out : )

  • Reply
    Ashlee
    February 11, 2013 at 3:23 am

    Stumbled across this post as I research painting an old fridge front with chalkboard paint. I already had a qt of Valspar for some other projects so I figured what the heck! A D O R A B L E project! You probably already know this, BUT, Hobby Lobby sells chalkboard markers, which is what they use at Starbucks. No nasty chalk feeling when you write, lasts longer, and wipes off with water and a dish rag. Just thought I’d pass that info along in case you didn’t know!

  • Reply
    Jens
    April 18, 2013 at 1:55 pm

    Gonna give this a try.

  • Reply
    Val
    July 15, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Just curious, what gauge sheet metal did you use? I’m hunting around for a large but sturdy piece, 30″x40″, for my soon to be chalk board.

    • Reply
      Ashley
      July 16, 2013 at 10:12 am

      We’re not completely sure, but it’s about 1/8″ thick. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Cat
    July 16, 2013 at 11:45 am

    This is awesome! I have been researching for awhile on magnetic chalkboard paint only to find that there hasn’t been a product that was stellar. I also thought about just painting chalkboard paint on a sheet of metal, but thought I should google this process and it brought me here! Thank you for sharing your process! I can’t wait to start this for my daughter’s new room!

  • Reply
    Britney
    August 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    Hello! I love all of the projects that you both have been doing! I made the coasters and starburst mirror! Loved them!! Now I’m onto the magnetic chalkboard. I picked up some sheet metal a 2 by 4 ‘ piece. It is really heavy though, and i was wondering if yours was too? I’m a little scared to hang it on the wall!!!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm

      Awesome! Yeah, our piece of sheet metal was pretty heavy, which is why we used lots of Liquid Nail to keep it in place in the frame. We then reinforced the D-rings with more Liquid Nail and let it dry for a long time. As long as your frame is sturdy, you’ll be good to go. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Aaron
    November 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Hello- just found this – love the idea. Was wondering how it’s holding up over time?

    • Reply
      Ashley
      November 12, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Still using it and LOVE it. It’s held up extremely well – no wear at all.

  • Reply
    jessica
    December 31, 2013 at 11:51 am

    Have you ever used Chalk Markers on this? I am wondering how well the Markers are able to be erased off of the metal + chalkboard paint. (without making it cloudy)

    I have a chalkboard frame that I bought and the chalk markers are NOT coming off! I believe the “chalkboard” insert is some sort of particle board with a chalkboard surface put onto the front. I believe the markers are not coming off because the material must be too porous. Nail polish remover worked, but is leaving a cloudy surface and taking some of the black board off. HELP! any suggestions? I am thinking of just replacing the insert but would love a different solution….And I want to use the chalk markers! The colors are so vibrant!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      December 31, 2013 at 6:49 pm

      I’ve never had good experiences with chalk markers before – like you said, they don’t come off easily. Because of that, I never tried the markers on this board, so I’m not sure how they’d fair here. However! Whenever I use chalk, I always dip the chalk in water for just a second before using it on the board. The colors are always very vibrant and the water cuts down on the chalky mess as well. If you don’t think it shows up at first, just wait a second and it will dry and become more and more vibrant as it dries. Try it! It works!

  • Reply
    Christopher West
    January 12, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    Nicely done and looks awesome.

    I am liking the idea of painting one wall in each of my daughters rooms with blackboard paint 🙂 then they can go wild!

  • Reply
    Shellie
    January 29, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Stumbled across your blog. Fellow Virginian here. Im in Dinwiddie 🙂
    Enjoying your posts!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      January 30, 2014 at 10:28 am

      Thank you! Glad you found us : )

  • Reply
    Nancy Kessler
    September 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I have all the supplies and am going to start this week. Thank you so much for posting this DIY project. I have had a really puny chalkboard in my kitchen and have always wanted a bigger one that is magnetic. Wish me luck and thanks again.

  • Reply
    Julia Ruiz
    February 16, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    I did mine chalk board /magnetic board with a2 dollar frame ,chalk painted with sheep skin added a big piece of sheetmetal for free. husband and sons are sheetmetal workers had plenty leftover metal .Chalked painted the metal and im using it for my grand kids pictures magnetic. love it

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