Make your own {smooth} chalkboard paint {successfully}

make chalkboard paint I went to a tag sale recently at a nearby church. And lo and behold, I found a bunch of unfinished wooden plaques for 25¢ each. 25 CENTS!!! Unheard of, right? I know. Don’t hate me.

I got really excited to make all kinds of pretty signs with them but didn’t want to make permanent ones. What if I change my mind and want different words on them later? Then, I got to think…write in CHALK! I’ve seen chalkboard paint ideas everywhere on the web but didn’t want to paint a whole wall or a door with it so I never pursued the idea before. But what a great idea to paint these plaques with chalkboard paint to make them reusable and rewritable! I was game!

chalkboard paint

Call me naive but I learned that there is a difference between “chalk paint” and “chalkboard paint” during my research. Then, there is “magnetic paint” that can convert any surface magnetic, which is a whole another post in itself! Oh, the endless possibilities I found on the web when I was searching to find a recipe for chalkboard paint. Why didn’t I just buy them from Home Depot? Well, what fun would that be when I can concoct make my own?

Besides, these commercial paints are expensive and toxic. It would be counterproductive. So I wanted to make my own, using up paint that I already have. But even if I wanted to buy new paint to mix my own chalkboard paint, I’d buy less toxic, VOC latex paint, which is a lot safer than the already made ones.

Oh, and, just like when I made chalk, there is a bit of learning curve to making homemade chalkboard paint. All the tutorials I found said, “Oh, don’t worry about lumps. They really resolve when you start painting.

Yeah, right. Uh, huh.

Thank goodness I didn’t try to paint a whole wall or a refrigeratorYES, a refrigerator! Crazy, isn’t it? – with chalkboard paint because I would have been in deep doo doo because the first batch didn’t come out so well. *Groan*

So, without further ado, let’s make {smooth} chalkboard paint!

Make your own {smooth} chalkboard paint {successfully}

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C Latex Paint – NOT Acrylic but LATEX paint – the type you paint your interior walls with and NOT your average crafting or canvas art paints. Latex is water based AND it goes on a lot smoother and more fluid than acrylic. I tried both and latex is what you need. Trust me.
  • 1 Tbsp of NON-SANDED Grout – buy the finest and freshest bag of Non-Sanded grout. Old ones will have clumps that you can’t get rid of, despite what you read on the web. Trust me on this.
  • Gloves
  • Mask
  • Fine Sand Paper
  • Chalk

Instructions:

NOTE: Just like when I made chalk, I made this in my garage, with the door opened, wearing mask and gloves. I had concerns about breathing in fine grout particles and the fumes from the old paint, so I wanted to make sure the area was well ventilated. Make sure to mix the ingredients in a well ventilated room, away from food. And please, do not use your measuring cups for cooking for this. Just washing them afterwards won’t do. Buy a set of measuring cups for crafting and call it a day. Don’t reuse them for cooking. Also, don’t mix this in your kitchen or on your dining table. I saw pictures of people doing this in their kitchen on the web and I cringed when I saw that.

OK, now that’s out of the way, let’s mix the ingredients.

 First, I used this old leftover grout I had in my garage that my hubby used years ago, during one of his home remodeling, Bob Villa, days.

chalkboard paint group

You see the little clumps of grout? I read online that little bits of clumps were normal and that they will dissolve, magically, once you start mixing and painting. So I painted it since so many tutorials said is was ok. What a mistake.

chalkboard paint lumps

 The clumps didn’t dissolve. And it left streaks, lumps, and uneven surface. And when I tried to sand it down, as instructed, it tore holes on the surface. Big fail. BIG. Epic Fail.

chalkboard paint streaks

So I started over…with a different grout that was hiding in one of the cabinets in the garage. (Why did he buy so many types of grout? I’ll ask my hubby. Maybe not. I’m guessing, he had clumps in the first box and had to buy a new bag. :( )

I didn’t read this package to compare to the other one but when I felt the grout between my fingers, it had no lumps. So I assumed it was finer and is made with a different compound that didn’t create lumps. I mixed the grout with big hopes for lump-free gravy paint. And that’s exactly the consistency of the paint – thick gravy, but without lumps!

dry tile grout

And it was a success. I didn’t take a picture of the mixture because I couldn’t wait to paint it on. Look at the beautiful smooth surface now! It was so smooth that I didn’t need to use the chalk to smooth it out as it was suggested! I just added stick-on decals from my crafting drawer to add some color and images. One trick I could have tried was to put the grout through a fine mesh but I didn’t have any. If you have one, try putting the grout through a fine mesh to get all the clumps out before mixing into the paint.

chalkboard paint finished

See the difference between the rough one and the smooth one? You can click on the image to enlarge. Now you can write on it with chalk that we made the other day, and erase with damp cloth.

chalkboard welcome

Ta dah! How cool would it be to use this sign at a Tag Sale? Ironic, eh?

chalkboard paint for sale sign

If you want to paint glass with chalkboard paint, make sure the surface is frosted, like this old one that shows the black soot inside, or you’ll have to spray it with frosted glass spray (which I don’t know how toxic it is.) before painting it. This one is painted with the first batch of lumpy paint.

chalkboard paint glass

Look at this ambitious project of turning a door panel into a magnetic chalkboard that my friend Myra of Herban Luxe made in her kitchen. She bought a used Rustoleum magnetic primer from her local Habitat for Humanity center at a fraction of the price! Now that’s what I call “recycling”! Now she can put magnets on the board as well as write with chalk! Her daughters seem to be having fun with it, don’t they?

myra's chalkboards

 

It doesn’t matter how and where you use it. Chalkboard paint is fun to use to convert any old thing into a functional art. One of the readers was happy to learn how to make chalk to give away as gift with her sold items. I thought that was clever! And inexpensive!

Can you see selling these plaques and a set of homemade chalk in your shop? Hmmmm…..now there is a business idea!

STANDARD FTC DISCLOSURE: In order for ecokaren to operate as a blog to provide information for my readers, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for our endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. Please note that I only ever endorse products that I believe would be of value to you and that I approve. Reviews and opinions are 100% mine.

I'd love FREE updates in my inbox!

13 comments
Tesha
Tesha

Hello Great job and very pretty. I just tried to make a chalkboard today prior to finding your page. What did you paint with because the site I used said using acrylic paint works and to use a regular paintbrush but doesn't mention sandpaper. So needless to say the chalkboard is not smooth not because of lumps but brush strokes but my son loved the project. Since it seems like you have done research what is the most ecofriendly kid safe way to make the chalkboard paint because I have the polyblend nonsanded grout that I premixed before he helped but I don't want to expose them to anything.

Casey
Casey

Thanks for the great tutorial! I've seen this on the web but haven't taken the time to look at any tutorials in detail. It looks like yours is all I'd need. Sorry your first batch didn't work out but it provides the rest of us with some valuable info! We're in the process of turning our basement into a playroom & guest room and I think we need a chalkboard area. So fun!

Myra
Myra

Great post Karen. Thanks for sharing my masterpiece. I actually purchased the chalkboard paint at habitat as well.

Jenn Flynn-Shon
Jenn Flynn-Shon

As a person who formerly worked in the construction industry as a faux painter I must share an fyi with you here. Be very careful when purching your polyblend non-sanded grout. Some of them contain silica which is known to be a carcinogen. Stay healthy out there!

Deborah
Deborah

This is So great. I always leave my self little sticky notes by my bathroom mirror to remind me of important dates, Drs. appointments, lunch dates etc. I was wishing I could come up w something more interesting.. viola.. I will make a mini chalkboard in coordinating colors to leave myself notes.. Thanks!

Kathy
Kathy

I love the successfully! part of your tutorial. I have a hideously scratched refrigerator that just won't die. I am considering painting the doors with chalkboard paint. Can it be done?

karen
karen

Ohhhh, a chalk area or a wall would be awesome for the kiddos! Well, you know, I love sharing my {mis}adventures with my readers so you don't go through what I went through. Nothing works out perfectly as many of the tutorials you find on the web, as you can imagine. One small tip for painting a whole wall tho...I would test out a batch before you start painting on your wall though. This formula was for a small job so you'd have to figure out a larger mix. Good Luck!!

karen
karen

Oh, didn't know you bought that too! That's awesome! You are lucky to live near Habitat for Humanity store!

karen
karen

I know! I was worried about what might be in it. I knew about silica...So I checked the MSDS and it Polyblend contains "Portland Cement" and it doesn't say silica. Is Portland Cement a certain blend of cement? Is that an industry standard term? Couldn't get any more info about it.

karen
karen

Deborah, Tell me about it! I got post it notes all over the place too! Coordinating color chalkboards, great idea!

Myra
Myra

Hi Kathy; Be sure to clean the outside of the fridge then prime before painting with chalkboard paint.

JeffreyGoh
JeffreyGoh

@karen Hi Karen, I guess it's safe for Children if they were just drawing on it. The handler who painted this must wear protective gears when you were making or batching the paint. Here's the link about Portland Cement  https://www.osha.gov/dsg/guidance/cement-guidance.html, Some Brands , i have noticed do have Warning Label indicating as Not Safe for Children due to some Chemicals mixtures or additives in the the Grout. I would suggest that we as informative parent takes all the precautionary steps by writing to the manufacturer to investigate further . We can't afford to pay the hospital bills if our children have cancer or anything that will harm their organs. I would stick to moderation when dusts are concerned. I did find out that Latex Paint without the grout can be good for drawing alone. There's a different between aesthetic look and practicality. Let's play the game safe since it concerning children. 

ecokaren
ecokaren moderator

@JeffreyGoh Thanks for yout input and the link Jeffrey. I assume kids won't be mixing and making the paint so it will be safe for them. And you are right, as I pointed out in the post, even adults have to wear protective mask and gloves when handling paint, grout and cement. Thanks again! 

Latest blog post: white chili

Trackbacks