How to Paint Chalkboard Walls

An empty chalkboard is like a blank sheet of paper -- a nearly irresistible temptation for the doodle, the graffiti, the grocery list, the stick figure. Coat your walls in chalkboard paint and watch creativity blossom in your house. A lot of, or a little, painted chalkboard surface might inspire the young Botticelli to forgo crayons on the fin de siecle wallpaper, or remind you of the vet appointment. Grab a paintbrush or roller, and a can of premade chalkboard paint, or mix your own from a simple recipe.

Encourage the baby genius with walls that invite scribbling.
Encourage the baby genius with walls that invite scribbling. (Image: evgenyatamanenko/iStock/Getty Images)

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Chalkboard Canvas

The nursery is the hatching ground for the creative offspring who will one day run the world. Don't clip their wings with prissy painted walls that inhibit artistic impulses. Paint a whole wall with chalkboard paint, custom-mixed to match or complement the decor. Whip up a batch of your own color with 1 part non-sanded grout to 8 parts wall paint. Apply two coats for good coverage, and then rub chalk all over the dried wall and wipe it off to "season" the wall so it's ready for Rembrandt and his mighty bucket of colored chalk. Just avoid very light colors unless you plan to use bright chalks on them. Medium and deeper hues highlight every shade of chalk.

Bistro Board

One wall in the breakfast nook or your tiny dining area becomes a portal to the Boulevard Saint-Germain when you paint it into an enormous chalkboard. Use dark pewter or charcoal blackboard paint over smooth, skim-coated plaster for best results. Draw a fancy frame on the wall behind the table to enclose the day's menu. Add a depiction of a window with a gathered cafe curtain and a shelf with some flowers spilling out of a wine bottle. Wall sconces might be a nice touch. A cafe sign or street sign locates your sketched-in bistro geographically. Quotes from poets or revolutionary heroes inspire dinner conversation or solitary contemplation.

Chalkboard Headboard

Paint the wall behind the bed with chalkboard paint and switch your room decor on a whim. A platform bed, or mattress on a frame without headboard or foot board, could be a Minimalist slab, a Versailles boudoir confection, an extension of the teen diva's movie marquee, or a majestic carved antique from a Jane Austen novel. Just chalk in the design era du jour and you get an instant canopy; a bookcase with scribbled reading lamps, books, and a shelf for teddy bears; a Victorian wrought-iron bed; or a monogrammed or first-name headboard to personalize a shared bedroom.

Chalking Up the Seasons

Simplify holiday decor with a chalkboard wall in the entry or around the fireplace. Paint the wall to coordinate with the rest of the space -- use a customized color or standard schoolhouse black. Then draw a decorated tree or an elaborate wreath flanked by tall candles for the winter holidays; a giant wicker basket brimming over with artificial grass and colored eggs and surrounded by bunnies and a field of wildflowers for spring. Halloween is the perfect excuse to fill the wall with everybody's favorite monsters, a scarecrow, some bats and a witch flying across the moon. Pile jack-o'-lanterns with flickering tea lights in front of the wall for a spooky trick-or-treat tableau. For Fourth of July, break out the red, white and blue chalk. A Thanksgiving cornucopia hints at the feast to come; lots of hearts and flowers signal "true love" for Valentine's Day. One quick swipe of the eraser, and the holiday decor is neatly stowed away.


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