PDP Exclusives by Rebecca

Saturday, September 24, 2011

How-to: Making a COLORED chalkboard. ANYWHERE!

Who says all chalkboard surfaces need to be black? Brooke has been excited about this project for a few weeks now, and the sudden splash of colors in her home have become a topic of conversation with any visitors that pop into the Brooke Van Gory Studio. So we want to scream it to the WORLD! Black chalkboard surfaces are NO MORE! Let them have COLOR!!!

Materials needed:

Acrylic paint in ANY color (match your decor, do team colors, do a RAINBOW!) in 2 oz bottles.
Box unsanded grout (around 4$ at any hardware store)
Sponge brushes (I found the larger the brush, the better)
Cheap paintbrush or popsicle stick for mixing
plastic bowl you don't care about
painter's tape
level (if doing squares)

So, as you all may or may not know, I really am not the best at being meticulous with measurements. With my sewing, I tend to fix any discrepancy in a line with a straight seam. In this case, I HAD to be meticulous. SO I first gathered all my tools together, and made sure I had a helper, to help hold the level.
First things first, pick a large enough spot to place your writing surface. For my first board, I decided to do a calendar shaped surface on a blank wall in the kitchen. For the top block (where the month would go) I measured out a 5" space, and had Evan hold the level, so I could tape straight under it, then I measured the space that I needed to cover width wise. In this case, the width of the area was 33", SO I figured each square (there would be 7 of them would be AROUND 4" wide (about, again....not rocket science, and by no means exact). For the pieces of tape in the inner part of the board, I actually took the painters tape, and cut it in half, so the spaced between the squares would be thinner. You don't need to do this, I just thought it would look more professional.
So I used the painters tape to grid out 7 squares across and 5 squares high. Which is KIND OF a lie, because first, I made 4 rows, then realized it needed to by 5 high, and went back later and added another row. So learn by my mistake, and do 7X5.
Now, for the mixing of the paint mixture. I used the little tubes of acrylic paint. You can find these in pretty much ANY color of the rainbow at any craft store. I got mine from Hancock Fabrics, and each bottle cost me 89 cents. TO do this large a surface, please buy 2 of each color....and again learn from my mistake, as it is not awesome to run to the store during dinner time with a hungry 2 year old to get paint cause you ran out, and want to finish.
Mix one bottle of paint with 1 tsp of unsanded grout. I got a HUGE box at Home Depot, and I keep joking that I still have enough to totally chalkboard the whole rest of the house. When you mix the paint and grout, it will be a little gritty in texture, this is normal. You do not really want REALLY lumpy paint, just gritty. Kind of like it you put a pinch of sand into Elmer's Glue texture-wise. NOW YOU ARE READY TO PAINT!

Use an up and down motion with the sponge brush. I found that the wider brush worked better then the more narrow brush. If there do happen to be lumps, just smear it in, they will break apart, and smooth out pretty easily. Let each layer dry, and re-cover the area as needed (I put 3 coats in each color) Let the whole area dry for at least 2 hours. When you go to peel off the tape, be careful, because the dried paint can stick to the tape, and pull off slightly. SO make sure you have a little dab of paint left of each color to do a touch ups. I even went onto the adjoining wall, to create a matching grocery board, so we can jot down items that we run out of during the week.

Now, stand back, and admire your amazing new chalkboard! This technique can be use for SO many cool things! Paint the front of greeting cards, the sides of gift bags, the outsides of rubbermaid containers, or even upcycle cereal boxed to make a portable chalkboard for road trips!
I loved doing this so much, I did another project in Evan's room, but with simple squares! This way, he can keep track of homework assignments, chores, and stuff he needs to keep track of! This was also to get him OFF my board because he could not stay away, it was too much fun!

Brooke is a mom of two, and in an attempt to take over the universe with awesome, she makes rad bags. You can find her shop here. She is also wife to an aspiring rock star, his band page is here.


  1. This is so awesome! I've been wanting to paint the Sprouts' dressers/shelves with chalkboard paint, but didn't want to make their rooms look too dark with large amounts of black paint. This would be PERFECT!