Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Magnetic Chalkboard Tutorial

Chalkboards are all the rage these days and I have jumped right on the bandwagon!  In one corner of J's room is a small square window that has a blank wall underneath it.  Since it is next to the closet, we can't really put any furniture in this space, so I decided it was the perfect spot for a chalkboard.

I knew I wanted a magnetic chalkboard since at this age I am more comfortable letting J play with magnets in his room than chalk.  (Note: please always be careful with magnets as they can pose a choking hazard and are very dangerous if swallowed.)  He can use the magnets when he is in his room for quiet time and we save the chalk for when we are playing in there together and I can make sure he isn't coloring his walls, carpet, sheets, and furniture.

I searched online for a magnetic chalkboard but couldn't find quite what I was looking for, so I took a trek over to my home-away-from-home, The Home Depot.  I started out by looking in the lumber department for a piece of sheet metal.  I found what I was looking for, but at $22 for a 3 foot by 3 foot square, it was 2/3 my budget for the entire project.  I began searching around for a different solution and happened upon the plumbing aisle where I found a 2 foot by 3 foot sheet of metal for less than $10.  Sold.

Next stop was back in lumber to pick up a piece of MDF board.  I chose a 2 foot by 4 foot board that was 1/8 inch thick.  To make the board the same size as the sheet metal, I asked the friendly folks in the orange aprons to cut one foot off the length of the board.  If you don't already know this about Home Depot, they will cut almost anything for you.  I have had them cut so many boards and shelves -- they are like my own little production factory.  

Back at home, I started by using some Liquid Nails that I already had on-hand to adhere the sheet metal to the MDF board.  

I then used a chalk board spray paint to give the metal several light coats.  

Here it is after the second coat; it takes four or five coats to get a nice, even paint job.

Once the paint had dried over 48-hours, I "primed" the chalkboard by laying a piece of chalk on it's side and rubbing it all over the chalkboard until it was liberally covered.  Chalkboards are very porous, so if you don't prime your chalkboard, you are at risk of having your first drawing there permanently.  Once you have primed your chalkboard, rub it with a dry rag and erase.  

My dad built a custom frame around the chalkboard using baseboard molding and we used Command Picture Hanging Strips to attach it to the wall.  If you don't feel like building a custom frame, you can use a large store-bought frame for your chalkboard (or even better, spray paint an old thrift store frame!).  The sheet metal is easy to cut down to any size you need with a pair of tin snips (make sure to wear gloves so you don't get cut).

I used Command Hooks under the chalkboard to hang a few tin buckets that I picked up in the dollar section of Target to hold chalk and magnets.  

The chalkboard was the first thing J noticed when we surprised him with his new room.  He loves making drawings and playing with his magnets.  

Have you jumped on the chalkboard bandwagon yet?  What are you waiting for?

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