How to build a custom sized framed chalkboard.
I think it is safe to say large chalkboards have long since moved from being a staple item in classrooms to being a staple item in coffee shops. When looking for inspiration for our coffee bar, we looked at the interior design of lots of coffee shops (both in photos and in person). One of the common design choices we noticed is to utilize large chalkboards to display menus or art.
Having large chalkboards in the home is now becoming more popular as well to keep track of schedules or chores, weekly menu planning or allowing kids to conveniently express their creativity by having a place to draw on the wall (without actually drawing on the wall).
I love this idea because I always had a chalkboard hanging on my wall in my room when I was growing up. I loved to force er… I mean ask my little brother and his friends to play school with me. I was always the teacher of course.
We knew a chalkboard was a necessity for our breakfast nook to capture an authentic coffee bar feel. We just had to decide what form our chalkboard would take. When it came down to it we couldn’t make the commitment to painting the entire wall or even part of the wall with chalkboard paint since we just painted it gray. All the chalkboards we found to purchase were either not big enough or way too expensive.
We decided to create our own 7 foot framed chalkboard. This was the best solution for us because we could make it the exact length of the coffee bar, it would fill up the large wall and we could customize the frame to match the wood on the bar.
- 4 ft. x 8 ft. Piece of Hardboard Tempered Panel (also called masonite)
- (3) 8 ft. Boards of Select Pine
- Chalkboard Paint
- Foam Roller
- D-Ring Hangers
- Chalk Markers & Chalk
- Electric Sander + Sandpaper
HOW TO MAKE A DIY Framed Chalkboard
1. The first step was to make our frame. We taped the two boards that would be on the opposite sides of the frame together. We taped the two longer horizontal pieces together and then taped the two shorter vertical pieces together.
This allowed us to make one cut through two boards and guaranteed that the matching sides of the frame would be the exact same size. After we cut the frames, we stained them with a Kona stain to match the wood on the coffee bar.
2. For the chalkboard surface we used a piece of masonite board. We chose to use this material because it was really cheap (less than $10 for a 4ft. x 8ft. piece) and it has a smooth finish. However, with no prep the chalkboard paint would most likely flake off the board.
To prevent this, we sanded the entire surface with 200 grit sand paper. It provides enough tooth for the paint to have something to grab but it does not make it too rough where the paint surface would look scratchy or bumpy.
3. We planned to glue the frame to the chalkboard with wood glue so we taped off an area of the board before we applied the paint. We knew the glue wouldn’t adhere well to the chalkboard paint so we needed to make sure we still had an area of the original board to attach the frame.
4. To apply the chalkboard paint we used a foam roller. It worked really well to create a smooth finish. It took us two coats to ensure that all areas where completely and evenly covered.
5. After we finished painting the board, we let it dry for awhile.
6. When it came time to attach the pieces of the frame to the board, we pulled off the tape and applied wood glue to the unpainted area of the board. To avoid applying too much glue and having the glue squeeze out from under the frame onto the chalkboard surface, we applied the glue sparingly with a paintbrush.
7. After the glue was applied to one side, we clamped the piece of the frame to the chalkboard to hold the two pieces together so they had time to dry. The pressure of the clamp can mess up the finish of the wood so as always we place a piece of scrap wood between the clamp and the frame.
8. Once the frame was clamped to the board we attached the pieces of the frame together and the frame to the board with screws. This provided extra strength to the bond and made sure everything was nice and secure.
9. After we completed our framed chalkboard we added D-Ring hangers to the back and hung it above our coffee bar.
10. We designed what we wanted our chalkboard art to look like in PhotoShop first. I have pretty good handwriting but it was going to be nearly impossible with the scale of the chalkboard to make everything straight and scaled evenly.
I wanted the design to be personalized but also fairly minimal and clean. We worked in some common coffee shop phrases like “Served Fresh Daily”. But I am thinking about adding our additional slogan, “At Gray House Studio Coffee, it’s not made until you make it yourself”. I printed out a copy of our design as reference.
11. Then we used a projector to display the graphic we designed on the computer onto the chalkboard to trace. I would recommend doing this in a dark room or at night but since we were in a bit of a rush I did most of the tracing in the middle of the day with the sun shining through the windows so it was really hard to see what I was tracing.
I started out being able to see okay but by the end I was free handing the mugs at the bottom which got a little frustrating and intimidating. But the beauty of chalk art is it does not have to look perfect and it is not permanent! So we can always come back and change up the design and fix any of the major flaws. I can’t even tell you how many times I redid the Cafe Latte mug before I finally had to admit that was as good as it was going to get and move on.
It took about six hours by the time I traced, drew and shaded everything and my arm fell asleep from holding it over my head for so long but I am really proud of how it turned out. Jake (the cat) mostly just supervised and photo bombed.
12. We used these Bistro Chalk Markers and they worked so well! After some experimenting, I found that writing with the chalk markers is the way to go for sure. The fat tip one works really well for outlining because it makes for smooth, thick lines that you have quite a bit of control over.
I used the thin one for smaller details and smaller text where I wanted to trace over the words several times to make the letters thicker giving it a shaded appearance.
We used regular chalk to do all the shading. It is messy and provides a lot of chalk dust but I think it gives it an authentic old fashioned chalkboard feel.
A large framed chalkboard is a fun element to incorporate into the home. Whether they are intended to be functional, as art or both they bring personality to a room. They are especially perfect for home coffee bars to create that cozy and eclectic coffee bar feel.
We love creating our own framed chalkboard because it really allowed us to get creative both in the size and the appearance of the chalkboard. Having the framed chalkboard span the entire wall of our breakfast nook really catches our guests attention and makes it one of our favorite spaces in our home.
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