How to Make a Chalkboard

A 4'x8' chalkboard is easy to make.
A 4'x8' chalkboard is easy to make.

Sooner or later most of us come to accept the realization that the precious 3- or 4-year-old grandchild is not to be trusted in any room with bare wall space. By the time you run to the bathroom and back, the budding little Picasso will have decorated an entire 4'x8' area of white living room wall with colorful crayoned graffiti. You'll probably need a second mortgage to pay for all the paint you'll need before young Pablo outgrows writing on the walls. So if you can't beat them, you join them, compromising by giving them a renewable wall of their very own. But when shopping for a suitably large chalkboard for this purpose, you discover that a 4'x4' commercially made board is going to set you back about $100. I made this huge chalkboard for my 3-year-old grandson with materials obtained from the local hardware store for about $40. It was a fun and surprisingly easy project. The best part is that it's just the right size to give the child all the room he wants to scrawl freely, sparing the walls of my home. Since he's about 3-1/2 feet tall, setting the 4'x8' chalkboard on the floor and leaning it against a wall was the only installation that was needed. Although the primer and paint are available in liquid quarts, I chose the quicker and easier aerosol cans for my project.

Things You'll Need

  • Disposable gloves
  • 4'x8' sheet of plywood
  • Concrete blocks (optional)
  • Course sandpaper
  • Can of dark-colored aerosol primer
  • Can of black or green chalkboard coating aerosol
  • Box of white chalk
  • Felt chalkboard eraser

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Choose a sunny, windless day so that you can make your project outside. Or you can do this indoors, as long as you have adequate ventilation. Lay the sheet of plywood on a flat working surface.

Use course sandpaper to smooth the edges of the plywood. Wipe the surface clean of dust produced by sanding with a damp cloth. Make sure it dries completely before proceeding.

Prop the plywood to a more vertical position by supporting it with some concrete blocks, or simply lean it against a wall. This will make it easier to spray paint the board.

Put on a pair of disposable gloves. Then paint the entire surface of the plywood with the dark-colored aerosol primer. Priming the lumber will produce a smoother finish for the final coat of paint. Spray by holding the can parallel to the plywood while using smooth horizontal strokes. Allow the coat of primer to dry completely.

Repeat Step 4, but this time using the chalkboard coating aerosol. Allow this coat to dry thoroughly for about 3 days, which will "cure" the chalkboard.

Lay a piece of chalk against the chalkboard and use it to cover every bit of the board's surface. Then erase all of the chalk with the felt chalkboard eraser. Talk the completed chalkboard inside, choose a spot for it and prop it against the wall. Call Picasso's mom to invite him over to test-drive his new canvas.

Tips & Warnings

  • It's a good idea to wear disposable gloves when using spray paints. No matter how careful you are, it seems that you will always manage to get some of the stuff on your hands.
  • Remember that you're working with aerosols which can produce potentially toxic fumes. Always work in a well-ventilated environment. The contents of aerosol cans are under pressure, so it is very important that the can not be exposed to heat or open flames.
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