DIY Chalkboard Paint and Chalkboard Markers

pax wardrobeWe got an enormous Ikea Pax wardrobe with shelves so we could have a place to store our kids’ toys and my sewing/craft supplies.  It’s massive (39″ x 23″ x 78″).  Eventually, we’ll get or make doors (the ones available for sale at Ikea for this size are pretty ugly), but right now, it’s just a big open storage unit.  Not the greatest for concealing chaos, but at least the chaos isn’t spread all over the floor.  full

Any way, the point of this post is that chalkboard paint is easy to DIY and awesome, not that we have too much stuff ;P

Since the wardrobe is so big and there, I decided to paint the side (23″ x 93″) with chalkboard paint so my kids could draw on it and also so I could make lists.  I think if the lists are that present, I might be more likely to complete the items on it.  At least that’s the intention.

I was concerned about using regular chalkboard paint because I didn’t want a big, black, rectangle glooming up the room.  I found these instructions to make your own chalkboard paint and decided it was worth a shot.  I also considered magnetic paint so we could hang our kids’ paintings, but reviews are decidedly mixed on how well it works and I figure we can just use some double sided tape or museum putty.

So, the nitty gritty:

1. Since the wardrobe is enormous and already full, I didn’t want to have to move it outside to sand it.  First, I primed using Zinsser water based primer.  That did not work, so I gave in and used their oil based primer, Cover Stain.  This is amazing stuff.  I have avoided using it b/c it’s oil-based, but I am a convert.  The laminated furniture in our house should watch out – I might attack it with primer and paint at a moment’s notice!  Although the primer stinks, it seems to dissipate fairly quickly with some open windows.  I did two coats, but I don’t think it was necessary.  I just wanted to use the primer I had poured out instead of throwing it away.  I used a foam roller that was about $2 and threw it away instead of buying paint thinner.

painted side2. Then, I mixed about 1/2 c Benjamin Moore Gull Wing Grey (light gray) from a pint sample I had and 1 tbsp of unsanded delorean gray grout that we used to tile our bathroom way back when after the “great” flood.  I just mixed it on a coated paper plate with a fork to mix all the grout smoothly.  I used a similar action to beating eggs.  I used another roller to paint.  It only took one coat to get pretty good coverage, but I did touch up a few spots where a little primer showed through.  In some areas, the grout was not entirely mixed in, so I just used my finger to rub it in and then rolled over it to smooth it out.

3. Once the paint was dry, I used about 3 full pieces of chalk to condition the board, wiped it off with a microfiber cloth, and that was it!  One last suggestion is to use chalk markers instead of chalk.  chalk markerThey are WAY less messy and easier to write/draw with.  You can get them at Home Depot or art stores for $2 or $3.  Not cheap, but not dealing with chalk powder all over is priceless!

I’m thinking about framing the side to give it a more finished look, but am on the fence since I don’t want to decrease the write-able surface too much.  I’ll keep you posted.


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