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Sunday, March 22, 2015

5 Things I Learned About Making A Chalkboard.

Michael and I are big into doing our research.  We love consumer reports, we love reading reviews, we love hearing people's advice, we love to learn from experts.  So when I get a bright idea to start a project, that just means that it's time to start researching.  

A couple weeks ago I shared our bookcase project with you.  Remember?  It looked like this:

It took quite a bit of research on our part to accomplish this build.

My next ideas was to utilize the side of the bookcase in a different way - a magnetic chalkboard that we, and our little guy, could use.

In discussing this project with others, reading some online reviews, and looking at tutorials I found on pinterest, I learned a lot about the Magnetic Chalkboard DIY process.

And today, I'm going to share with you all the things I learned, in case you are ever interested in pursuing a similar project:

1. You can buy magnetic primer but it requires a lot of coats in order to be effective.  

I was very excited when I purchased magnetic primer at Michael's.  When I told my mom about my plans, she quickly shared with me her experience with it.  She said that she had applied three coats (which is recommended on the can)  and found the magnetic effect was very weak.  I went online to read other people's experiences and the consensus was, unless you apply 6+ coats of the magnetic primer, you can expect a very weak magnetizing effect.  And even then, only certain magnets will work. 

2. To get a good strong magnetic surface, use sheet metal.  

From tutorials I have read, it seems like the most effective way to get a magnetic surface is to purchase sheet metal.  We looked at Lowe's to get some for our surfaces and it looked as though we'd have to spend about $60 for the sheet metal.  We decided that we may just save that project for later.  In the future though, if we are really craving a magnetic chalkboard, we'll buy the metal and then paint it up with some chalkboard paint.

3. Chalkboard Paint.

I had originally purchased the chalkboard paint at Michael's, but it was pretty pricey.  I read good things about the Valspar brand of chalkboard paint which costs significantly less than what I paid at Michael's... even with a 30% off coupon.  While I was planning to return my originally purchased paint to Michael's and go back to Lowes for the Valspar brand, I ended up using some of my mom's left over chalkboard paint that she had - which was Valspar.  I applied 3 coats using an angled brush and foam roller. The coverage was really good and cleanup was easy. 

4. "Season" your chalkboard

Another big thing I learned in researching this project was about "seasoning" your freshly painted chalkboard.  For any DIY chalkboard, it is important to apply an all-over coating of chalk before drawing or writing on your chalkboard.  Why?  Well if you don't, it will be VERY difficult to erase the first things drawn/written on the chalkboard - a DIY chalkboard is porous and will hold onto the chalk that you apply.  Note: This is true for DIY chalkboards and some store bought ones, but not all.  So I would say, if in doubt, season's better to be safe than sorry.

To season your board, simply run some chalk across the surface of your board horizontally and vertically to cover it entirely.  

 Then erase.  I used a wet rag to wipe it clean. 

See how it leaves some residual chalk?  That's a good thing! That will prevent your words/drawings from being permanently engrained on your board.

5. DO NOT use chalk pens on a DIY'ed Chalkboard

Because many DIY'ed chalkboards are painted on either wood or drywall... stay clear of chalk pens.  Yes, they are nice and neat and easy to use, but they are not meant for porous surfaces - such as wood or drywall.  They will become impossible to erase.  The only way to get rid of it is to repaint.   Bummer.

So then how do you get a pretty detailed drawing or lettering on your chalkboard?

Here was my solution:
- Select your lettering and print from your computer
-Tape it to your surface to act as a spacing guide
-Use a chalk pencil.  I purchased these at Hobby Lobby.  It was easier to be more accurate using these compared to working with regular chalk, plus it was a lot less messy.  

-Lift the paper and start freehanding your lettering, using the printed paper as a guide.  Once I started my lettering, I moved the paper below where I was writing so that I could more easily see the example for scale and spacing. 

Now to be fair, this probably wouldn't be the best strategy for more intricate lettering or drawings but for the purposes of what I was doing, it worked super well. 

And just what exactly am I doing here?

Well, for our little "Great Scout-Doorsman" nursery, I wanted to put the Boy Scout Law somewhere in the room which reads (or which your husband recites from memory):

"A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."  

What wonderful things to be praying and hoping for our little guy to be.

And would you look at that... it's Boy Scout approved! 


I love how the black chalkboard adds another color/texture element to the room.  And it's fun!

So what do you think?  Are you ready to Chalkboard it up?! I think you are!

Linked to: Talented Tuesday,

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