Since we bought our house last May, I have been searching high and low — literally — for a place to paint a chalkboard wall for Sam. I considered a space in the kitchen beside the refrigerator and another area in the downstairs hallway. But when we decided to convert the basement into a playroom, I knew that was the perfect place for my project. It would be easily accessible to Sam but far enough away that Lucy wouldn’t be tempted to devour the magnets.
I love projects like this one that are aesthetically pleasing to adults and also provide hours of entertainment to toddlers.
Here’s how to add a magnetic chalkboard wall to your home.
- level, yardstick, painter’s tape, and pencil to sketch the space
- magnetic primer and chalkboard paint (Rust-Oleum brand)
- small paint roller with two 1/4-inch nap brushes
- white chalk, a soft cloth, and an eraser to prep your board before use (I used sidewalk chalk for this step)
- jumbo triangular chalk sticks (Melissa & Doug brand)
- wooden shapes from a craft store plus magnetic tape to make your own magnets
- magnetic numbers and letters and animals (Melissa & Doug brand)
First, use a level and a yardstick to sketch the space you plan to paint. My original sketch was 60″ wide x 42″ tall , but after talking with Nick, I decided to decrease the width to fit within the studs so we could add a frame to it.
(Yes, I changed the color of our Dr. Seuss prints. The red and green and blue seemed too bright after I hung them.)
When you’re happy with the size, break out the paint. I like Rust-Oleum brand for both the magnetic primer and the chalkboard paint — I found both at Lowe’s. I used a small paint roller with a 1/4-inch nap brush for both layers, however, I did have to toss the brush I used for the magnetic paint because it was far too sticky to even think about cleaning and reusing. Also worth noting: the magnetic paint requires a lot of stirring before you start. And by a lot, I mean at least 15 minutes. Be prepared for a major bicep workout before you even pick up the roller.
Paint (at least) two coats of the magnetic primer, allowing 30 minutes to dry between each coat. Two hours later, paint the first coat of chalkboard paint. Wait two hours before adding the second coat. Allow 24 hours to dry completely.
Then add your frame. We used scraps of window casing that we already had in our garage and painted them to match the woodwork in the room. Nick measured and cut the wood using a saw and coping tool, then he nailed it to the wall with a nail gun. I filled in the corners and nail holes with caulk and touched up the paint.
And ta da! Before you let your kid at it, though, don’t forget to prep the board. Take a white piece of chalk (I used sidewalk chalk), turn it on its side, and rub it across the entire board. This gets messy! So don’t forget to cover the area with a drop cloth or thoroughly vacuum when you’re finished. When the entire board is covered in chalk, take a soft cloth or paper towel and rub it into the board, using circular motions. Finally, wipe it down with an eraser, and you’re ready to go!
I lined the board with letters and numbers and homemade magnets and wrote “Samuel” across the middle, and I couldn’t wait to show it to our boy. The verdict? He is obsessed.
There are few activities that occupy his attention for more than five minutes, but this is one of them.
And, surprisingly, he’s kept the chalk within the confines of the frame. Though it does get all over his hands and pants. But what’s one more outfit change when we’re already used to him being covered in dirt?
Eventually we’ll use the board to practice our ABCs and 123s, but for now it’s a great space to exercise his creativity. Always with Mr. Ribbit tucked under his arm, of course.
This is one of my favorite house projects to date! Speaking of house projects, we are fast approaching the one-year mark since we bought our home (crazy!), and I plan to do a full house tour next month. Stay tuned!