Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How to make a giant DIY chalkboard

Hey there! I'm still in beast mode as I work on finishing up the loft/craft room/office makeover. I'm determined to get it done by the end of the month and I think I'll make it! 

I got a TON done in the past few days. I'm excited to share the little DIY project I added above the cabinets: 
shiplap walls

I've always known what I wanted to put up there. A massive chalkboard. I knew it would be a fun place for organization but also would look great against the white background. 

This was a fairly inexpensive project for the size and I'm loving how it turned out. I joined up with Minwax as I do occasionally to share how I use their stains on this project as well. 

The first thing you'll need to do is get a SMOOTH board. This is important, obviously, as you'll be writing on it. :) You can spend $50 on some nice smooth stuff but I didn't want to spend that much, so I kept looking. You know I love the luan for the DIY shiplap look I've added in here, but it's not smooth enough. 

I ended up finding a higher grade luan/plywood that was $19 for the sheet. I had it cut down to the size I needed -- this is how the smooth side looks: 
large DIY chalkboard

We held it up, made sure it was level and then nailed it in: 
plywood chalkboard

You can paint before hanging or after, I prefer standing up to do it. I taped off the edges (although I was adding trim so it wasn't really necessary) and did two coats of a dark paint as a primer (I don't have any tinted primer right now) and then two coats of the chalkboard paint: 
DIY chalkboard

I loved it right away! It was the perfect contrast against the planked walls and I love it with the sconces!

Here's a tip that some don't realize -- you really need to "season" a chalkboard before using it. This will make it easier to erase the chalk down the road. I haven't always done this and the chalk still wipes away with a wet rag, but if you are using a real eraser especially, I always suggest doing this. 

You just take some chalk on it's side and rub it over the whole board until it's covered:
seasoning a chalkboard

Then wipe it away -- if you want a real cloudy board you can use an eraser or dry rag. I use a wet one because I like how it looks after the fact. :) 

Then it was time to stain my trim. I found pretty chair rail to use -- before I started staining I made sure to pre-stain with the Minwax conditioner
pre stain conditioner for wood

I can't express how much better your staining projects will turn out if you take the extra few minutes to use this. I used to be too impatient every time and some wood would turn out crazy blotchy. You just wipe it on with a foam brush and then let it dry. You can stain almost immediately. 

I went with my favorite Minwax stain -- dark walnut. It's a classic, darker stain that is really brown -- no red tones to it at all. I use these foam brushes (at a great price!) to apply all my stains:  
staining with Minwax dark walnut

Be sure when staining to not let any part of it dry -- so don't stop one part and then start up again later. You need to keep what is called a "wet edge" while staining. With smaller projects like this it's not hard to finish up, but if you are tackling something large, be sure you have time to focus on it. 

Don't worry if the piece looks a little iffy while you stain. See how uneven it looked while I was staining? Let it sit for a bit (I usually only let it sit for a minute or two, but the longer you wait the deeper the stain) and then wipe with a clean towel: 
how to stain wood trim

The more you wipe the more it will even out. If it's still not right you can add more stain and do it all again. 

I absolutely LOVE how it turned out. You know how much I love contrast (if you don't know, I DO) and it looks lovely. The stained trim just makes the whole thing:

I was on a roll and got the cabinets painted too. You can see my full tutorial on how to do that here. (Check out my painted kitchen cabinets I did myself!) They turned out great, I just have to do a few touch ups:
how to paint kitchen cabinets

I love love love the sconces with the chalkboard: 
large DIY chalkboard

I have a few ideas in mind for this -- one is a permanent calendar I can write on each month. I also plan to dress it up with photos and other fun stuff to bring in more color: 
Chalkboard on white wall

The whole space is very white right now (which I'm actually quite liking) BUT there will be plenty of color coming in with art, pillows and accessories. I picked up some bright knobs for the cabinets last night but I have to see them on before I decide on those. 

These were two of the last big projects, whoot!! Some minor stuff is left to do and the desk and countertops, which a big element in here and also the most expensive. I'm just so happy that this room is so close to done and that I love it as much as I hoped I would: 
How to make a large DIY chalkboard

I'm loving the nod to a school house look the chalkboard creates -- this room will be used for homework and projects, so it is fitting. :) 

Just for kicks let's look at how far this room has come: 

I'm dying to decorate this space but will hold off till the counters and desk are in. I hope to get those later this week or early next. It's so close!! This is going to be such a fun room. :) 

Here's an image to pin for later if you want to remember this project!:

This post is sponsored by Minwax but all opinions and experiences are my own. I only work with brands I know and trust. See my policy and disclosure information here

Some affiliate links included for your convenience!



  1. LOVE this project! It's not only affordable and practical, but gorgeous too! The entire space is coming together so nicely.

  2. Hi Sarah - This room looks absolutely perfect! I am curious - are you going to change out the ceiling fan or keep it as is?

    Looking forward to seeing it finished! :)

    1. I thought about changing it but decided against spending on that. I took down the shade and changed out the glass on the lights for now. :)

  3. We have a large break fire place and an open concept first floor so the back of the brick fireplace is in our kitchen. I have been searching for a chalkboard to hang on that brick. We have been in this house for 20 months and I still can't one. I think I need to make one! I am looking for a way to build a wall shelf/table that goes around an L shape perimeter of our craft room with storage underneath. I can't figure it out yet. The cabinets that you have, do you think that a table could be created over top of them with enough room for a stool/chair? I want it to be wide enough to fit a sewing machine. I want to divide it up so we have sections for my 5 year old, 9 year old with her sewing machine and myself.

    1. Yes, I'll be sharing how I did the desk when I reveal the room shortly. I brought a countertop out from the middle of the cabinets and it works great!

  4. That looks amazing, Sarah! DIY chalkboards are the way to go - stores charge an arm & a leg for them but they are such an easy project. I made one with a cheap picture frame and it turned out great. With my version you are of course limited to the size, yours is great because you can go completely custom with the size!

    You can see my version here:

    Have a great rest of the week :-)

  5. This looks amazing, Sarah! I have been wanting to put up a chalkboard in our basement playroom and your steps look so easy. Definitely pinning this one!

  6. Love the dramatic chalkboard! I've been trying to come up with a way to do a magnetic chalk board for pinning stuff up and also writing notes, lists, etc in our home office (for two grown adults!). Have you ever seen a metallic chalkboard paint?

    And LOVE dark walnut. It's all over the place in my house!

    XO, Amanda @ life on linton

    1. Hey Amanda! Yes I've used magnetic paint but it takes TONS of coats for it to work. Even then you have to use the really powerful magnets on it. I'd suggest some metal sheeting (make sure it's magnetic first) and you can cover it with fabric. I've done that and it works well. :)

  7. I used magnetic paint and then painted the chalkboard paint over it. You gave to use between 7-8 coats of the magnetic paint to work really well in my experience.

  8. This looks amazing! I love how the light fixtures look over the chalkboard. Can't wait to see what you do for the final touches!

  9. Love the chalkboard and how it really changed the look of the room! It's looking so great Sarah!!

  10. This looks AMAZING! You guys are going to get so much use out of this awesome space. I have loved watching this project, thank you for sharing as you go!

  11. I love how light this area is. You are doing a beautiful job pulling this space together. I'm anxious to see the final picture!

  12. Love this and have a questions: When you attached the trim, did you attach it to the planked wall and flush with the chalkboard? If you put it directly on the chalkboard, how did you deal with the difference in the depth of the chalkboard and the wall? Thanks, Julie

  13. Is there anything you can't do girl? Guess maybe if I re-season our one and only chalkboard we made last year we might use it more, duh! Used an old frame and hubs put shelf on bottom for eraser and chalks.
    Your chalkboard looks awesome over cabinets and under your wonderful sconces. Look forward to seeing what you do next, will be something very functional and look great also knowing you. Have great weekend

  14. I absolutely love it! It looks great in the loft area. This room will be perfect when its done!

  15. I absolutely adore it!! O man this room is looking awesome, can I move in?


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