Chalkboards seem to be all-the-rage now – people are trimming anything and everything with chalkboard paint to create message boards, labels, jar lids, gift tags – you name it and it’s probably had a coating of chalkboard paint to make it better.
Our backyard playground / treehouse is no exception – but where do you find a 3′ x 4′ chalkboard to fit this tall expanse of wall?
You call up Leisa and her design team at Clancy’s Rainbow and they come up with a brilliant and inexpensive solution:
Here we have a sheet of SurePly plywood underlayment and some deck balusters from Home Depot.
Cost: $15.50 for the 3×4′ sheet and $1.22 per pressure treated wood baluster = $21.60
To this we add a quart of Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard paint – an acrylic based top coat that can turn almost any surface into a chalkboard.
- Easy to apply
- Can be applied to new or previously painted interior surfaces
- Available in thousands of colours
- Cleans easily – water based
- Fast drying
- Zero VOC*, low odour
I trimmed the ends of the deck balusters to a 45° on my mitre saw, then centred my table saw blade so that it would run down the middle of each baluster – just deep enough to cut a trench that the Sureply will fit into.
Set the height of your blade at approximately 1/3 of the way into each board. I ran the baluster through twice, side by side, to make my trench wide enough to hold the Sureply.
To make a 3’x4′ DIY chalkboard you’ll need to cut a 5th baluster to make up the gap on either side. I kept the 45° angle on either end, and just shortened up the length for a nice, tight fit.
Run a bead of wood glue in the trough/trench and then slide your plywood into place.
Reinforce at the corners with 2″ deck screws.
A couple of things you should know about this project;
- Sureply is not intended for outdoor use and probably won’t stand up to the elements very well.
- Benjamin Moore® Chalkboard paint is also intended for indoor use.
To counter these limitations (as best I could) I added two coats of primer on the front and the back of the Sureply. The hope is that the primer (indoor/outdoor) will act as a barrier to moisture and prolong the life of our DIY chalkboard.
By using the pressure treated balusters as a frame for our DIY chalkboard we are also protecting the edges of the plywood AND creating an overhang on either side of the plywood to help keep moisture at bay.
As a final precaution – the materials used to make our DIY chalkboard are pretty light, so the board can be mounted with four 2″ deck screws and can come down just as easily. Store it in the winter and you’re laughing again next Spring!
The design consultants at Clancy’s Rainbow continued the theme of the overall playground by choosing a black/charcoal grey chalkboard paint (there are thousands of colour options) and then a red for the frame.
Leisa gave me a tip on the proper way to apply chalkboard paint; you will need a minimum of 3 coats and you MUST SAND with a fine-grit sandpaper between each coat.
Chalkboard paint is very porous – if you don’t sand the surface with a 220 (or I used a 320) grit sandpaper, your chalk will fill in the miniscule holes and divots in your paint finish and will be really difficult to wipe off.
By sanding between layers, you are evening out the finish and minimizing these nooks and crannies so that chalk is more easily removed down the road.
I ended up applying 5 coats of chalkboard paint using a BM short nap foam roller with 8 – 12 hours of dry time between coats.
Benjamin Moore’s chalkboard paint dries by evaporation and coalescence (meaning two items come together to become one – I had to look it up lol) – because of this you have to let your DIY chalkboard fully cure (3 days) before using.
Tough when you’re an excited
To prime your DIY chalkboard for a summer of art and Pictionary you’ll need to apply a coat of chalk to the entire surface and then wipe off with a damp cloth. Sort of like seasoning a cast iron skillet – it just works better this way.
Hang on your deck, fence, wall or play structure and let the games begin!
As soon as the girls saw the giant DIY chalkboard they immediately went to work “tagging it” to show ownership. I did talk them into a half-hour game of Pictionary as well before the art began.
A DIY chalkboard is great for so many things; keeping score in backyard games, hangman and other word games, as an editable backdrop for their Musically videos and as a means to send very large messages:
Once again I have to sing the accolades of Leisa and the design team at Clancy’s Rainbow – this was a fantastic idea (with simple execution) for adding hours of Summer fun to our “once-child-but-now-TWEEN-treehouse” The idea, colours and products were from the imaginations and generosity of Clancy’s Rainbow.
Have a great one!
This post is sponsored by Clancy’s Rainbow. I was provided with Benjamin Moore® products to help spread the word about Benjamin Moore® Chalkboard Paint. 100Things2Do.ca only shares information I feel is relevant to my readers. All opinions expressed are sincere and my own. Clancy’s Rainbow is not responsible for the dialogue of this article.