Posts Tagged ‘conditioning chalkboards’

Framed: A gilded chalkboard tutorial

Here’s what no one tells you about chalkboard paint. Before you get to start scribbling and writing on the surface…


Eleanor Roosevelt quote Gilded Chalkboard Frame


You must do nothing. But sit and wait, staring at that beckoning blackboard, conjuring up all sorts of doodles and drawings and inspirational sayings you could be creating in white chalk, colored chalk and any combo in between–if only, you didn’t have to wait three days* for the surface to cure.


Yep, that’s right. Three WHOLE days. When we painted the wall in our living room (which you can see here),  it was agony. I had stocked up on chalk and was so ready to make my mark. And then…I read the part about “Conditioning and Use” on the side of the Rust-Oleum can. Darn, darn, darn!


Rust-oleum paint


I’m not a good waiter. At all. But it’s not just the three days. Once the wall has cured, there’s conditioning left to do. The instructions add, “Before writing, condition the surface by rubbing the side of a piece chalk over the entire surface and erase. This will leave a coat of chalk dust that will provide the best erasability.”


What? Turn my pretty blackboard grey?


Yes. In other words, if you don’t want your first attempt at writing a line of prose with all the lines that turned out super slanty to become a shadow of failure permanently etched onto the surface of your chalkboard stage, you must wait three days AND condition.


Cured chalkboard wall


Sadly, the high drama of the super blackness goes way muted to a kind of swirly grey. If your squint your eyes it’s almost like an amateur abstract painting. Almost.



So when I decided we needed a gilded framed chalkboard to hang on the wall in our office, I was so happy to discover Home Depot sells these…

Home Depot Chalkboard Panel


Pre-fab black chalkboard panels! Not only do these mean no waiting three days for the surface to cure, but you don’t even have to prep and paint the darn thing yourself. Easy peasy. So they must cost a bundle, right? Hardware/craft stores like to punish lazy people. Nope, I’m happy to report at $6. 88 (before tax) for the 2′ x 3′ x 3/16″ panel, it cost less than it would to purchase an unfinished board with the same dimensions (those were $5) and a pint of chalkboard paint ($10 per pint). Quick calculation: $6.88 versus $15.  And don’t forget the value of not having to spend the time painting it and waiting for it to cure. Sold!


Gilded frame


Once I purchased my panel and brought it home, I measured the opening of my frame and marked the chalkboard panel for my cut lines.



Measure frame


With JB’s cautious presence and helpful hints about how to avoid pain and/or injury, such as “Use grips to clamp the board down,” and “Keep the strings of your hoodie tucked in or you could strangle yourself!” I cut the board using a circular saw.


Cutting the chalkboard


When the panel was cut to size, I popped it into the back of the frame. Then I hammered brads into the frame to keep the panel snuggly in place. The frame–a $20 Salvation Army score–was, thankfully, already wired on the back so I got to skip the step of adding screw eyes and wire.


Hammering brads


Back of frame with brads


Then it was time for hanging. And graffiti-ing.


The whole process took less than an hour before I was able to begin writing on my new chalkboard. One hour versus three days? Home Depot had me at prefab.


PS, I decided to conduct a test on the scrap I sawed off to see if I wrote directly on the chalkboard, without conditioning its surface by rubbing it with a side of chalk, if the marks would really etch. I hoped it wouldn’t because I prefer the strong black background of the unconditioned chalkboard to the grey conditioned look.


While I was at it, I tested chalk from Pottery Barn versus the 99 Cents Only Store.


Conditioning test


(You are my witness. I’d say the answer is:  the difference is in price, not quality.)


Conditioning test results



Ta da! They both wiped clean. Well “clean” in that grey swirly sense of a chalkboard. No etching after all! I can’t say if this is specific to Home Depot’s prefab chalkboard panel that had who-knows-how-long-to-cure before I purchased it or if they use a special paint that plays by different rules than Rust-Oleum. But, the bigger question for me was, could I ever entirely revive the board to the true black background I preferred?




Etching test results



*Note: Krylon’s Chalkboard aerosol paint only requires 24 hours for initial use but still recommends conditioning your surface with chalk after it has cured. While the aerosol is great for small chalkboard projects (I used it for a silver platter I turned into a chalkboard sign and was happy with the results), for painting walls be sure to use the brush and roll-on variety of chalkboard paint. Use a paint roller to apply paint to the body of your wall and a brush for the detailed areas such as where the wall meets the ceiling, the baseboard, and/or an adjacent wall that you don’t want chalkboard-ified.


Have you experimented with this? Am I only the only one who was duped into believing you had to condition your chalkboard (essentially turning it gray) or else it would etch?

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