5 Things you should know before painting a chalkboard wall

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You’ve seen them on Pinterest.  Huge Chalkboard walls. Usually in a prominent place in the house.  Perhaps in the kitchen with a beautifully hand drawn menu for the week.  Or in the family room with the family’s’ schedule perfectly scrawled.   I’ve had an ich to make a chalkboard wall for a while.   I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to put it.  I wasn’t ready to commit to a main area in the house.  And then I realized the  perfect spot.

In our finished basement we have this cute little “house” under the stairs.  While it’s a cute area most of the time it’s the convenient place to throw the toys to quickly clean up.  I decided that this would be the perfect place for my ‘chalk board” wall.

Which brings me to the first thing you should know:

5 Things you should know before painting a chalkboard wall

1. Don’t do it at a major focal point

room before chalkboard paintI know I just mentioned those  fabulous pictures on Pinterest.  But let’s be honest this whole chalkboard thing is a fad – and one day a chalkboard wall is going to up there with wood wall paneling.   By placing it in a less obvious part of your house it won’t make it a past trend eyesore.   Plus while those pictures show beautifully hand-drawn artistic menus, let’s be honest, the kids are going to draw all over that perfect clean looking menu.  And if it’s in a main part of the house it’s going to make your living room look like a graffiti infested subway station.  By choosing a less obvious wall (like under the stairs in the basement)  will keep main public areas a little less “underground urban chic”.

room before shot

2. Sand the wall – even if it’s only a little bumpy

Yet another reason not to do this to a main wall.  You will want to lightly sand down the texture on the wall.  The smoother the surface, the better.  Chalk will catch on every little bump and pimple on the wall.   Smooth the wall and then wipe it down before you paint it with Chalkboard paint.

3. Season the wall properly

You know how you need to “season” a kettle before you use it?  You need to also season a chalkboard wall.  Once you’ve painted it and it’s that nice beautiful black matte color.  Take a piece of chalk and rub down the entire wall, so that every bit of pain has been touched by chalk.  Then erase it and your  wall will be ready.  This is to make it easier to erase and use.

4. Understand that your floorboards are going to take a beating.

Here’s something they don’t tell you.  Chalk is messy.  Chalk dust gets everywhere (especially when kids use chalk). It will get all over the floor.  If you use color chalk, that dust falls down onto your base boards and stains them.  Now aren’t you glad that’s not in your kitchen?

5. Have a place to store chalk and erasers.

how to store chalk and erasers

It’s important to make the wall functional.   Have chalk and erasers nearby to when inspiration strikes (or unexpected company) the tools will be within reach.

how to paint a chalkboard wall final result

We’ve really enjoyed out chalkboard wall. girl drawing on chalkboard wall Our kids friends enjoy it (and their babysitters).  I know of a few adult who also can’t resist and love to doodle on it as well.  The nice part is it’s in a fun little out of the way spot.  And yes the floorboards in there look terrible.  Oh well.

Also seen as:

How to paint a chalkboard wall. 5 easy tips that your should know BEFORE your paint!


  1. Thank you for that insight about chalkboard walls. I was considering adding one to my spare bedroom for the grandkids to use whey they stay, but since I just replaced the floors with light colored carpeting, that’s probably not the best place for chalk dust to accumulate. Thanks for the very useful tips!

  2. Well, passing fad or not, I plan to do a small wall in my kitchen, near the fridge, where I already have a large vintage framed chalkboard hanging. I figure it’s only paint. If I tire of it, I’ll paint over it. As for chalk dust, if the walls are being sealed with Kilz or some other primer/sealer, chalkboard markers should work well (without absorbing into the wall). Easy, erasable, no dust to content with.

    1. I painted my fridge with chalkboard paint thinking I would use chalk markers. Big mistake! Chalk markers are nearly impossible to erase without a ton of work. I had to go back to the messy chalk. My kids still love it though.

  3. I have the literal opposite experience. I purposely moved our chalk board wall to a more visible area of the house so that I can do things like have guests sign or doodle it at a party and then snap a picture for a memory. I painted 5 chalkboard “frames” on one wall as if it was a picture frame collage and yes, my kids draw on them in varying skill levels but because of the arrangement it looks as awesome as it would if I had framed their artwork. I have one in my bathroom that always has a great quote on it depending on my moods. And I have one in our living area that is constantly used to welcome guests or have a holiday message. It never looks bad or messy beyond visual appeal though, so it can be done.

    My only suggestion would be to keep in mind that different surfaces work better with chalk than with markers, etc. A rough surface seems to work better with chalk than chalk markers. It also helps to apply quite a few coats of paint. Another thing to remember is that if you use a color other than black it won’t be as likely to be a passing fad. You’ll be able to keep the paint until you don’t like the color anymore, even if you don’t want to draw on it.

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