The ABCs of chalkboard projects

McClatchy NewspapersNovember 23, 2012 

  • How to make your own chalkboard paint Buy your favorite color of latex paint. Buy unsanded grout ($3 from a hardware store). For a gallon of paint, mix in a quart of grout. (The ratio should be two-thirds paint to one-third grout). Stir. Add drops of water to make it thinner. After painting, allow to dry an hour. Often only one coat is needed.

Chalkboards may be old-school, but they’re the newest accent in home decor.

“Look what I made,” said Kelly Sims, holding up her smartphone during a chalkboard paint class in Independence, Mo. She flipped through pics: A picnic basket with a chalkboard top for playfully listing its contents. An old mirror converted into a message board. The fronts of a few kitchen cabinets for meal planning and writing quotes.

Sims finds pieces in thrift stores, garage sales and even the trash, then transforms them with chalkboard paint into gifts and home-entertaining accessories. She learned the secrets from Meredith Martin, an interior designer who lectured on how to mix custom colors and what you can make with them.

Here are the basics of chalkboard painting:

• Apply paint thickly with a foam craft brush for small pieces or a regular paintbrush for furniture and walls. For glass bottles, apply thinly. Spray-cans of chalkboard paint are available.

• Black is the most typical color of chalkboard paint, but it can be any color.

• Chalkboard markers, available at craft stores and at, are an alternative to dusty, smearing chalk.

• Decals with chalkboard surfaces are another way to go if you don’t want to commit to paint. Large-format shapes include rectangles, squares, airplanes and coffee cups, to name a few at Little labels are available at Martha Stewart Home Office with Avery at Staples.

• Erasers like you had in elementary school are adorable. But if you want the surface to be super clean, clean it with a damp cloth.

• Good gifts can be made with chalkboard paint. Paint an empty wine bottle, and voila! A vase. Great gift tags, too, can be crafted. The best part: They’re reusable.

• Idea for parties: Use a chalkboard-style oilcloth as a runner on the table. Give guests chalk or chalk pens and tell them to go to town. Kraft paper can be covered with chalkboard paint to create a tablecloth. Great for writing pairing suggestions for tasting parties.

• Let your kids draw on the walls. No problem with a chalkboard or chalkboard paint.

• Make a Monday-through-Friday message board out of an old five-panel door using chalkboard paint in the panels.

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