Thursday, October 6, 2016

13 DIY Buffalo Check Cork Bulletin Board

Buffalo check is finding a place in many homes, and I don't see the darling trend fading away anytime soon. Even if it does, I plan to continue to utilize the pattern on the regular because I just love the simplistic yet bold pattern and how it seems to pair well in every room in our home. I love it on pillows, throws, hand towels, clothing and now our son's new bulletin board!

I have so many other areas of the house I could be focusing on, but there is just something so enjoyable about working on kid zones; I just can't seem to pull myself away! Plus, it has been crazy amazing to partner with my little lad (who just celebrated a birthday this week!). He has an endless amount of creative ideas for his room, so I have been busy trying to weed through them all and still give him a space that is 100% Parker.

Parker likes just about everything; color, art, drama, monkeys, friends, photography, reading, running, Minecraft, Legos, games, telling jokes... his personality is large and fantastic. He had a bare corner in his new bedroom, so I thought it would be fun to give him an oversized bulletin board where he can display anything that he wishes. It would be a great way to add a boatload of color and texture, and create an interactive nook in his room that he can continuously customize. The buffalo check pattern was the icing on the cool cake.

Ironically, Parker must have been on the same page. I received a joke filled text message from him and his father while I was traveling out of town last week... "What do you call a sleeping bull? A 'bull'dozer! Where do bulls get their messages? On a 'bull'etin board!" #funnyguy

To get started, I picked up the following supplies (to create a 4 ft x 3 ft bulletin board):

  • 4-Pack of 12" x 12" cork tiles (x3) - I found mine at Walmart for under $5/pack, but the price has since increased by double for the same tiles online. That's what I call frustrated incorporated. Amazon has them reasonably priced (for now).
  • Mini rollers
  • Three paint testers from Home Depot (in Behr Ultra) - I pulled three shades from our son's wall color swatch card; his wall color is the darkest on the swatch so I selected the three colors above.
  • 4x4 sheet of plywood
  • 1" x 2" oak board (15 ft)
  • Wood braces
  • Construction adhesive/strong glue

I found a buffalo check pattern on a nearby pillow, and selected a portion of 4 x 3 squares with a shade pattern I thought would look best on Parker's dark walls (lighter squares on the outer edge, darker in the middle). Looking at the pattern, I determined I would need 6 squares to be the medium tone, 4 squares to be the lightest tone and 2 squares to be the darkest tone.

I then rolled each cork square accordingly. I pressed relatively hard so that the paint would absorb all the way into the cork tile, and each tile ultimately needed two good coats. I am certain it helped that this particular paint had primer included, and the tester just barely covered all six squares of the medium tone; not a single drop remained.

Once the paint was dry, it was time to glue the tiles to the plywood board (which was cut down to 4' x 3' to accommodate the tile pattern). It is really important to be sure your tiles are 100% dry before affixing them to the board, as they will shrink slightly while drying (I learned this the hard way the following morning).

I also learned that the cork tiles wanted to curl a little bit at the corners as they dried, so don't be scared to glue as close to the edges as you can. I just used a general construction adhesive we had on hand, and it seemed to do the job well. The cork tiles did come with mounting squares, but after attempting to use them for a single tile, it felt bubbly and un-level. And not a good bubbly that you raise your glass with for a celebratory cheers either.

After all of the tiles were glued to the plywood, I measured the perimeter and used our miter box to cut down the oak boards for the frame accordingly.

The freshly cut boards received a good sanding, especially the rough ends...

And two coats of English Chestnut wood stain applied with an old rag.

Pretty much the only help I needed with this project was a pair of hands to help hold the boards in placed while I pre-drilled and screwed together the frame. And also to help hold the oversized piece while I attached the backing.

I picked up some strong braces at our local hardware store, and also some smaller sized screws for the portion that was going to be used for the thin plywood backing (the screws that came with the braces were fine going into the thicker frame, but were too long to go through the plywood without poking through the cork).

Above you can see how I used the braces around the outer edges to attach the plywood to the frame. These ensured the final piece was sturdy and prevented any sides from bowing or sagging once installed on the wall. I also attached a few picture hanging pieces to either side of the frame (these particular pieces of hardware are known as keyhole hangers).

It's so fan-freakin-tastic that the piece alone could act as a giant piece of art!

But we had to give it a little Parker pizazz, so we added a variety of his favorite drawings, pages from old books, art, handmade items, photos, etc... anything that he was drawn to was game.

I have a feeling it won't stay this way for long. I helped him get it started but it's all his to mess around with from here on out. I am excited to see how it evolves.

I was worried that the cork would look blotchy once painted, but it turned out to have a really nice and smooth finish.

And the cork is thinner than the actual depth of standard push pins, but they stop (and can't go through) at the plywood.

I went in circles trying to figure out the best way to frame the board, but I ultimately landed on something a little more dimensional due to the depth of the trim. It has been a nice little place for Parker to line up his smaller toy figures.

I think Parker has us convinced to build him a new "bunk house" bed in the future, so for now we are just playing with what we have in the rest of the space. The easel and nightstand swapped sides to create better balance.

This project was wonderfully easy and turned out better than I could have imagined. Have you hopped aboard the buffalo check train yet?  


  1. I haven't heard of buffalo check pattern yet, but it looks really neat. I also never knew you could paint on cork board or that there are cork board tiles. This looks like something my daughter would love to have in her room. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love cork boards. I could have this in my home office to pin my reminders.

  3. This is very good job and thanks for step by step leading how to make. Definitely will use your idea for my big boys room. Thanks!

  4. I am a huge fan of buffalo check.... I am trying to work it into both kitchen curtains and pillow covers. Black & ivory is my favorite color combo! What a great idea for your son to have his own little 'pin'-terest board! When I was younger I remember plastering my bedroom walls and door with poster and pictures...his cork board is a great way to let his creativity really thrive!

  5. I love buffalo check! Especially when it's large scale! It's such a classic. Love the details on this board not only with the buffalo check pattern but with the wooden border and light above. It's perfection. It would work so great in a playroom. My little boys are always creating so it's a nice spot to highlight their masterpieces.


  6. I'm also a big fan of buffalo check and am planning a mudroom makeover with buffalo check flooring. Can't wait! Thanks for sharing this adorable update, but girl...I'm holding my breath for a kitchen update! Did I miss it?

    1. Thanks sweet Haleigh, I appreciate that you are still excited to see the final kitchen. It has taken much longer than we hoped or planned and I am sorry that you all have had to wait along with us. Unfortunately we were stalled for almost a year due to some island changes we made (new cabinets and venting), and not much else has happened anywhere else in the space. They just sent our island counter back to the fabricator and when it returns I am crossing my fingers I will finally have an update with the whole story.

      And buffalo check flooring in your mud room!? Sounds so dreamy! ❤️

      Thanks again,

    2. I'm so sorry that your project has been delayed- sounds like a nightmare! I can't wait to see it complete, as I'm sure you are too ;)

  7. Board looks great!!! Wondering where you purchased the sconce light above it? I've been scouring the interwebs for something like this for our built ins!

  8. What a fun project! It's so fun to have a place to display kids artwork. I particularly like the paint colors. Adding a touch of color really makes a difference to any project.

  9. Love this idea - I'm currently working on my 3 year old's "big boy" room and he loves blue! Do you happen to know the pallet of colors you selected?

    1. Hi Jennifer!

      I used the swatch for our boy's bedroom (Behr's Infinite Deep Sea) from Home Depot and selected the top three shades as his wall color is the fourth. I don't recall the exact color names, but they should still have the swatch available.

      Have fun with your son's room! Kid's spaces are so much fun!


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