Wednesday, January 18, 2012

29 Reader Space: A Framed Magnetic Chalkboard Tutorial

A little DIY is always fun, but I say you get extra credit when it is organizing related!  Kelly did as many of us do, and fell in love with a high end piece.  But no tears for this girl when she saw the price tag.  Instead, she was motivated.  Motivated to get something similar, and to do it herself!

Kelly wrote:

Hi Jen,
I just finished a little project that might or might not be what you're looking for in a "reader space" post, but here goes....Its a framed magnetic chalkboard in my kitchen for our weekly menu {so no more "what's for dinner" questions" and to put up the kiddos ongoing homework and bible verse memorization.
Here's a link to my blog post.

Here is Kelly to share how it all went down:

"It started one day drooling over the looking through the pottery barn magazine when I found something similar to this.... 

...and being the DIYer that I am I thought....I can make that!  So I did.  And I love it!

Here is a supply list:
  • Backer board {MDF, plywood, whatever} cut to size
  • Sheet metal, cut to size
  • Metal primer
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Baseboard or trim molding
  • Paint
  • Finishing nails and glue

Here is what I did:

It would probably just be easier for the store to cut it for you then you can skip to the next step.  We decided to cut ours at 4' x 5'!  Yes, it is big!

I called a sheet metal place and had them cut me a piece of sheet metal slightly smaller than my board.  I ordered mine to be 45" x 57" to give me an extra 1 1/2" border all around {you'll see why later}.  

Next, I used a heavy duty construction adhesive to adhere the sheet metal to the backer board.

Using an automotive primer, I primed the sheet metal in a well ventilated area.  Its kinda stinky.  I did two coats.

The next step was coating it with chalkboard paint.  If two coats are good, three are even better.  I knew this was going to be a permanent fixture in our kitchen and with four small kiddos in the house I thought it safe to ensure its longevity with more coats of paint.

I measured and cut the baseboard trim to size.  I mitered my corners and dry fit it first with clamps, to make sure it fit.  Measure twice, cut once, right?  Then I painted them before I attached them.  I was not about to create an extra step of having to tape off the chalkboard and risk the paint pulling up with the tape.

Using the same construction adhesive that I used to attach the sheet metal, I drew a line of glue on the wood border, placed down the trim and then clamped.  I used a finish nailer to nail in place.  I made sure I put my nails towards the outer edge {where you can see the wood in the above picture}.  This is why you want your sheet metal cut smaller than your backer board.

Then fill and paint any holes and the mitered corners.  Here's a shot before I filled the corners:

I decided that I didn't want to wait for the hubs to return from his business trip so carried it into the house myself.  Wow is this sucker heavy!  

I found the right hardware for the weight and then hung it....

I wish I had a nice pretty before picture with the chalkboard surface all crisp and black, but this is what happens when said children are in the house....

And here is the fantastic after picture of my completed project:

Our weekly menu gets put up so there are no questions about what is for dinner....

The kids weekly bible versus and "book-it" pages are on the other side...

...put up with these cute fabric button magnets:

And its all tucked nicely in the alcove of our breakfast nook:

Here's the cost breakdown:
  • Plywood $15 {and I have some leftover for another upcoming project}
  • Sheet metal $29
  • Chalkboard paint {already on hand from a past project}
  • Baseboard $20
  • White paint {already on hand}
  • Nail and glue {already on hand}
Total cost: $64

Not a super cheap project, but it sure beats the $150+shipping for the PB one, plus mine is much bigger and the exact size I wanted!"

Super sweet project Kelly!  I am totally smitten!

  • Anytime you do something yourself, you get exactly what you want and can customize it for you and your family.  Not to mention, it will be cherished more since it is YOUR piece of work. 
  • The DIY skill level is simple enough that most anyone could do this.
  • It ended up costing less than half of the inspiration piece!  Such a great savings, and for a bigger piece no less!
  • It's heavy duty, it will last for the long haul!  Such a great long term investment!
  • Family life is busy.   They now have a central place to communicate.  They use it now for sharing their dinner plans {YAY for meal planning!}, but it can also be a place to share schedules and notes or to use however they wish!
  • The fact that it is magnetic takes it to a whole other level for me.  I adore that the kids have a place to quickly find their papers so nothing goes missing!  
  • Those little magnetic buttons are sweet as pie.  I just love the fabric and that they are more decorative than your standard magnet. 

A special thanks to Kelly for sharing her inspiring DIY project.  Anyone else been DIYing their own organizing supplies?

ATTENTION!!  Want to be featured in a Reader Space edition?  Have an awesome organizing story to share?  I am looking for projects that have made a positive impact to your life.  Please send your story and photos to and I would heart to feature them right here, on the blog!!  Photos should be high resolution and unedited.  Please include a description of the project, including any costs, inspiration, and how it has changed your life and routine for the better!  Oh, and no worries my friends, we will NEVER judge "before" pictures because that just wouldn't be nice!  Only love goes on at this blog!  More info HERE.


  1. I just did a similar but smaller/easier/lazier? version of this project. Her big version is AWESOME.

    I was so tired of pushing aside things on the countertop to find an empty wall outlet to charge phones, cameras, etc. So I made a command central/charging station in my office out of site.

  2. Looks fantastic! And can we talk about how awesome Kelly's handwriting is, and with chalk even?

  3. Love the chalkboard idea. You're so inspiring! I was wondering where you purchased your x-back chairs.


    1. The chairs came with a set we purchased from a small furniture store in Bellingham, WA when we lived there. I know I've seen them elsewhere....I'll see if I can find a link for you. ;)

  4. This is FANTASTIC!! Thanks for sharing the tutorial!

  5. Totally agree Jen -- DIY def means that you can make the end result exactly what you want AND what you need too! <3 Love this + the fact that she made it magnetic! Rock on kelly!!!! =)

    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

  6. Love this, I will be making one for myself, Thanks a bunch, :-), Susan Cooper

  7. This would be a great idea for a kids playroom too! I love the addition of the magnetic surface as well.

  8. How thick is your backerboard?

  9. I love this! Thanks for posting!

  10. Awesome instructions...this is great! And I LOVE it oversized. Thanks for sharing!!

  11. Great idea. I will have to make one of these!

  12. Hi Jen, I love this idea. I actually have a rather large painting that I'm not overly fond of and will use your tutorial when I get time to turn it into a chalk board. I have also added you to my blog roll at my organizing site. Would love for you to call round some time. I have a menu plan Monday blog hop each Monday and would love to have you join. Your site really is awesome.

  13. Love it! What a great project.
    Can't tell you how much I loved your BHG post... their projects always make me drool. I couldn't decide where to start pinning! :-)
    Oh and btw, I finally got around to doing your school paperwork storage and I am in love! I commented on your original post but wasn't sure if you'd check that, so wanted to make sure I thank you here! Half my 2012 projects were insprired by you! :-)

  14. I just love your blog - its awesome!! Just wanted to let you know I tagged you in a post on my blog here . Hope you have a chance to check it out soon!!

  15. Wow! Very cool! I probably would have fell over, with the chalkboard on top of me, if I tried to hang that thing on my own!

  16. I've always been a big fan of chalkboard paint for things like family message boards etc. but the sheet metal for magnets? Pure genious.I just saw a similar idea with the metal on Thanks for sharing.

  17. That's such a neat idea! Due to family breathing issues, I can't use chalk! I'm looking into a dry-erase alternative, but all the dry-erase surface paint I can find is either white or seriously expensive. Any ideas?

    1. I'm looking into dry erase options, too, for our homeschool room. I know you can buy sheets of it in white Lowes or Home Depot, but another option is plexiglass. Have them cut it to size and then frame it. Then you can put any color paper or fabric behind it. :)

    2. Kelly - you are a genius. Love the plexi over fabric idea for dry erase. That would be so lovely!


    3. I know you commented about this ages ago, but there is a thing out there called a chalk marker. It basically is dustless chalk. You wipe your writing off with a damp cloth. It must be how restaurants get that smooth chalk look on their menus.

  18. This is amazing! I'd love to make one. Do you think you could save a bit of money by using magnetic chalkboard paint instead of the sheet metal? I don't know if it actually works.

    1. Hi Sue!

      The magnetic paint may be almost as expensive as the tin, or close. I used it in our kitchen cabinet and had to do a ton of coats before there was enough "magnetic pull". It worked OK for our project, and we needed it to be strong since we had a whole door of spice tins, but the tin is much stronger and more magnetic so it's totally a personal preference.

      Great question!


  19. You didn't include the cost of the primer... is thta pricey? And did you get something specific?

    1. Hi Penny!

      I believe it's around $20 per quart, we have used ours for endless projects and have a lot remaining. It seems as though a little goes a long way.


  20. Hi! I love your project and plan on making one for our kitchen this weekend. Can you tell me what you asked for in terms of the sheet metal when you ordered it? There seems to be a lot of options and I don't want to overpay for something I don't need. I plan to get the sheet metal and prime and paint with chalkboard as you did, only I plan on directly attaching this to the wall (no backer or frame). Thank you in advance for your response!


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