Does Chalkboard Paint for Walls Really Work?
Imagine: all the creative possibilities of a chalkboard from floor to ceiling on your wall. Whether you have kids who would love to draw all over the walls, or whether you’re the one with the creative spark, or whether you just think it’s a fun idea to be able to write notes on your wall, chalkboard paint might be a great option for your next home improvement project.
Chalkboard paint is exactly what it sounds like—it’s paint that turns your wall into a chalkboard-like surface, so that you can use regular chalk to draw pictures, write messages, or doodle designs to your heart’s content… and then wipe it clean and do it again as many times as you want. You can use a regular chalkboard eraser or a microfiber cloth to wipe off the surface, and use chalk or chalk markers (which are dust-free and more durable—like what you’d find on some restaurants’ “Specials” boards) to write. It works, and it can be a lot of fun for all ages!
It’s not the same thing as chalk paint, which is just a matte paint that is meant to look “chalky”—that gives an antiqued look, but doesn’t work like a chalkboard, so be careful that you’re buying the right product for your intended purpose.
You may never be bored with your décor again… chalkboard paint gives you the chance to switch it up whenever you feel like it without having to repaint or deal with the hassle of things like vinyl decals, removing wallpaper, or hanging framed art and leaving holes in your walls. You can also let your guests leave their personal marks and signatures behind as favorite memories.
Chalkboard Paint Ideas
Most people don’t paint whole rooms with chalkboard paint (though of course you can… you make the rules in your house, right?). Instead, consider these uses:
- Accent wall: Think about making one wall in a room a chalkboard paint wall. The other walls can be regular paint or wallpaper, but you get one wall for creative designs. You might use a kitchen wall to write out your daily menus, grocery lists, or to-do lists. You might use a hallway wall as a family calendar, to keep track of everyone’s schedules. A bedroom wall can become a place for your favorite inspirational quotes, whimsical doodles, or love notes. Kids’ rooms can be places for their friends to “graffiti” with their names and drawings. You can even liven up a garage or storage room with some temporary art.
- Sections of walls: You don’t need to paint a whole wall. Instead, you might draw a large rectangle, mark it off with painter’s tape, and just do that one section, like a two-dimensional version of a real blackboard. This works well if you want to draw pictures as little accents, in place of prints or posters. You can also add a frame around the paint, or “frame” it with a different color of paint.
- Doors: You can paint any interior door with chalkboard paint. Consider a closet or bedroom door, where you can write messages or label what’s stored inside. Some people paint the inside of a pantry door, to write notes about what’s running low and needs restocking.
- Furniture: You can paint tables, chairs, cabinets, desks, fish tank stands, bookshelves, benches, file cabinets… wherever the creative urge strikes.
- Household items: Chalkboard paint works great for labeling things like mason jars or storage tubs. You can also use it on lamp bases, vases, the side of a computer tower, a fireplace mantle, mugs, flower pots, a globe—almost any hard surface that won’t get wet. Glass, ceramic, wood, sheetrock, metal, and plaster are all appropriate materials. You can even paint appliances like refrigerators or washers and dryers.
How Do You Apply Chalkboard Paint?
The process of applying chalkboard paint is just a little more involved than regular household paint. If your surface has any sort of texture, it’s important to smooth it out. That means sandpaper: sanding any textured or rough spots will make it easier to write smoothly on your chalkboard wall or surface. Also, make sure to fill in any cracks or little gaps or nail holes.
Does chalkboard paint need primer? Yes. After sanding and cleaning the surface with a cloth to make sure it’s dust-free, apply a primer. Don’t skip this—unless the paint specifically says it contains primer, it’s important to prime walls before applying chalkboard paint so the paint takes evenly and doesn’t sink into the wall.
Chalkboard paint requires at least two coats (letting it fully dry in between coats), but many professionals suggest three coats. Remember that you’ll be writing on it and rubbing it off, maybe frequently, so you want to make sure you have a thick enough base that won’t wear down.
- How much does interior painting cost? Can I afford to hire a professional? Our new interior painting cost guide will help you decide whether you should DIY or hire a painter.
You must let chalkboard paint dry for three days before writing on it, no matter how tempting it is to write on that fresh surface right away. After that, you might want to coat the whole thing with a light layer of chalk and wipe it in, to cure it and give it a hazy “true” chalkboard look.
Don’t use any topcoats or sealants to glaze it over, or it won’t work like a real chalkboard.
Chalkboard Paint Colors
When you think “chalkboard,” do you just think black (or old-school dark green that you remember from your second grade classroom)? Never fear: chalkboard paint comes in every color you can possibly imagine. Benjamin Moore boasts over 3500 colors of chalkboard paint!
Basically, any color you can get in regular paint, you can also get in chalkboard paint—it’s just a different texture, but has all the same color possibilities. You can also mix your own by adding unsanded grout in to your favorite latex paint in a ratio of 1:8. Mix it really well and start painting as soon as you’re done mixing so the paint doesn’t dry out too quickly.
Rustoleum also offers black chalkboard spray paint, and Krylon offers it in black and blue. You can’t spray-paint walls, of course, but you can use spray paint on most furniture and metals.
Magnetic Chalkboard Paint
Now we’re really getting creative. If you want the ultimate in do-it-yourself artistic fun for your walls and furniture, consider making your chalkboard paint even more versatile by making it magnetic, too. This way, not only can you write and draw on the walls, but you can stick stuff to them, too. Fun magnets, photos, drawings, whatever.
All you have to do is add a magnetic primer. Follow the directions on your primer, which often include three coats before you begin painting with your chalkboard paint. Or just leave it to a painting professional.
Magnetic paint doesn’t hold a lot of weight, but it’s good for papers. You can also add a magnet to your eraser and stick that right to the wall for easy access. Magnetic paint doesn’t hold a lot of weight, but it’s good for papers. You can also add a magnet to your eraser and stick that right to the wall for easy access.
Another possibility is to just paint sheet metal with chalkboard paint for a more heavy-duty magnetic surface—you can frame and hang the sheet metal or put it up on an easel and use it like a traditional chalk board.
Whatever options you choose, chalkboard paint can open up a world of new artistic possibilities in your household.