sometimes katie makes a chalkboard wall…

…so when we bought our house, one thing I HATED was the bright red wall in the back of our kitchen. It didn’t really match the room, and was an eyesore. Not only was it a bright, unwelcoming shade of red, but it was poorly painted. It was streaky, inconsistent, and very textured. It was almost like someone added sand, or small rocks to the wall, and painted over. Maybe it was to match the rest of the slightly textured walls in the house? I’m not sure. Because the other walls are so subtle that you can’t really tell it’s even textured.

A view of our kitchen on the day we moved in. This is from the dining room. That’s the big red wall (can’t miss it!)

It took me over a year to decide what to do with the wall.

What was my crazy idea??

A CHALKBOARD WALL, of course!

I was inspired first sometime in the last year, when my husband and I flew to Florida and Georgia to visit some of his family. We stayed with one of his friends, who had recently remodeled much of their house. My favorite part was a small part of the wall, in-between rooms, where they painted it with [black] chalkboard paint. It was wide enough that their daughter could draw on it, which she frequently did.

One day, when I was browsing Pinterest for inspiration for my kitchen, I found some homes that had a larger chalkboard wall. I was sold.

I waited until the rest of the dining room and kitchen were repainted before I got started (see blog post: sometimes katie goes from outdated to retro [dining room makeover]).

I asked around, and researched a little, about what to do about the texture on the wall. I figured that if I was going to be writing on that wall, the poky texture would be difficult to write smoothly.

My husband handed me a scraper tool, and I got to work.

My handy scraper tool and the mask my husband made me wear. I sent this picture to my mom and sisters with no explanation.

The texture was so thick and hard that I had to almost put the scraper at a 90 degree angle and push it along the wall until the pieces came off.

The speckles you see are where there was texture on the wall. When they got scraped off, the yellow paint from the previous layer showed. This step was not attractive.

This just shows how much texture there was. My arms were pretttty tired from scraping at this point.

After I scraped the whole wall, I thought maybe I could just go straight to painting it with chalkboard paint. The previous owners had left a small can in the basement, so I brought it upstairs, stirred it really well, and painted a couple of squares on the wall.

My husband was convinced that the wall was still too textured. I didn’t think he was right, but it turns out that he usually is when it comes to home projects.

I was talking about this project at work, and one of my co-workers recommended using a hand sander to smooth out the wall. Since the wall was made from plaster, I thought I’d give it a shot.

(According to research online, this was going to be a very messy, awful step, and my asthma was probably going to get VERY flared up. Luckily the sander had a piece attached that “caught” the dust, and so I tried out a little bit before going crazy on the whole wall).

Another selfie of this project. I was keeping my family updated, and they kept telling me how crazy I was!

I sanded over the part that I had painted black, and it revealed that yes, there was too much texture still, and the whole wall needed to be sanded.

It still made a little bit of a mess, but I just made sure I had a mask on, and an inhaler nearby. I think my eye allergies were actually worse than the breathing, since I had the mask on. Using the sander required a little force pushed into the wall, which made my arms even more tired than scraping. So this step I took my time with.

Once it was sanded, it needed to be “dusted.” When we sanded and re-stained our mantle black, I learned about tack cloth. It’s sticky and weird feeling, but it does the job. I think it took two pieces to clean the whole wall off, there was so much paint dust on it.

Tack cloth: before and after. There was so much red paint dust on the wall that it turned the yellow cloth red!

Finally the wall was scraped, sanded, and clean, and ready to be painted!

Even MORE yellow showing now! The sander worked really well.

When I researched how to use chalk paint, it was recommended to prime the surface first. I had some leftover primer downstairs and just did one coat. Pretty easy step.

It’s funny – even with this incomplete whitish color, I already loved it so much more than the red!

When the primer was dry, I started the process of painting with chalkboard paint. I’d never used it before, and it turns out it’s a little different than the normal eggshell variety I typically use.

Also, I was afraid that the leftover can in our basement wouldn’t be enough, so I bought another can. Disney makes a chalkboard paint and actually sells it at Walmart, for $10.97. It comes in a smaller, 1 qt. can, but that was more than enough for two coats on the wall. A cool feature about this paint is that you can tint it nearly any color you want. They have a color chart in store you can use. I went with the darkest tint, “Mouse Ears.”

Left: what the previous owners left behind (half full). Right: Disney Chalkboard Paint by Glidden, sold at Walmart.

 

The website recommends waiting four hours to dry after the first coat, and seven days to dry before writing on it. Man, that wait was hard! I used a roller and a trim brush to paint the wall.

My family finally believed I knew what I was doing when I sent them this picture.

Painting it black didn’t take that long, and I’ve become pretty good at cutting trim from all the painting I’ve been doing in my house.

It’s BLACK!! But still in the seven-day-drying-period. I already loved it though.

While I was waiting a WEEK to use the wall, I painted the trim white so it looked tidy and neat.

I LOVED the black against the grey hallway behind it! (That’s another blog post I need to do, my hallway makeover!)

While I was still waiting, my husband installed newer, modern-looking light switches and outlets. My goal is to do that with every single one in the house. We’ve made some pretty good progress so far.

He also installed a new track light above it, that we found in the “As-Is” section at IKEA. Previously there was a single bronze light (shocking), without a cover, and the light was just GLARING onto the wall. This new light adds light not only to the wall, but to the sides of the room, which is convenient.

The picture doesn't even do it justice. It just looks SO much better! And that's not an arrow you see on the chalkboard, it's the top of what used to be a Christmas tree. I couldn't reach it when I tried to erase it...

The picture doesn’t even do it justice. It just looks SO much better! And that’s not an arrow you see on the chalkboard, it’s the top of what used to be a Christmas tree. I couldn’t reach it when I tried to erase it…

So — onto actually USING IT as a chalkboard!!

A great tip I found was to “season” the chalkboard before use. Basically, you take a piece of chalk, and rub the side of it (not the tip) all along the chalkboard, first vertically, and then horizontally. This insures that when you first write something, you can erase it completely. If you don’t season it, you could have permanent marks on the board (faint, but still visible).

Another great tip I found was that the Mr. Clean Magic Erasers work best for erasing the chalk off. I have found this to be absolutely true. When the Magic Eraser is dry, it takes the chalk off well, but if you want to completely clean the chalkboard so it looks new, you just get the eraser wet. I love those things.

For the chalkboard wall, I found that standard erasers just didn't do the job. Go with Mr. Clean!

For the chalkboard wall, I found that standard erasers just didn’t do the job. Go with Mr. Clean!

I have bought a ton of colors, shapes, and sizes for the chalkboard wall. The biggest mistake was buying glitter chalk, because although it’s sparkly and “cute,” it’s a pain to wash off the wall.

Some of the different chalks I've tried. Really, they've all worked great. I haven't tried the pencils yet, because the wall is SO BIG!

Some of the different chalks I’ve tried. Really, they’ve all worked great. I haven’t tried the pencils yet, because the wall is SO BIG!

 

A handy tool I found at Hobby Lobby was a chalk holder that prevents you from breaking the chalk because its housed in a holder.

This thing works WONDERS!

This thing works WONDERS!

So now that it’s done, I’ll show you some of the fancy artwork I’ve done so far!!

Wait… first, I have to put a Bob picture in here. As soon as the wall was finished, I found our cat sitting in front of it, almost asking to be photographed.

Okay — now some fun artwork!

My first attempt. No real rhyme or reason here. You’ll see that it gets better with practice!

 

I threw a Bridal Shower at my house, and it was fun having this in the background. Inspired by a post I saw on Pinterest.

One of my favorites. But I can’t take ANY credit for originality — saw this exact thing on Pinterest!

 

The most difficult picture I’ve drawn so far. LOTS of detail. A replica of a Pinterest find.

Some random verses/inspirational posts, when the board was seeming empty. The two on the left were replicas from Pinterest, and a friend wrote the one on the right.

I didn’t have a Christmas chalkboard, because it was around that time that I was the most nauseous from morning afternoon sickness! The worst of the symptoms were around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I just didn’t have the energy to spend on decorating the board. I didn’t even put up a tree this year! Some small decorations here and there, so it felt like Christmas. I eventually wrote something a little Christmas-y on the smaller chalkboard I made (I’ll blog about that later):

Nothing says “Joy to the World” like that face, huh?? Design: Pinterest find.

Our roommate had her family over for dinner, and it was her dad’s birthday. Easily interchangeable name here! Inspiration: Pinterest.

I hosted Book Club at my house, and we had read “Still Alice,” a book about early-onset Alzheimer’s. Being a PT, I wanted to give a little science lesson. Having a visual was helpful when we talked about the devastation of the horrible disease. I had found a picture online and drew it large scale.

So that’s that!

I hope this is helpful for anyone who wants to do a chalkboard wall in their house. Hopefully it’s much smoother for you, and you can just go straight to:

  • Find a wall
  • Clean it
  • Prime it
  • Paint with two coats of chalkboard paint
  • Season it with chalk
  • Go crazy with drawing, writing, and decorating!!

 

 

 

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