Framed Magnetic Chalkboard {tutorial}

This project has been 18 months in process, maybe longer.  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 approached dear hubs with it and he begged and begged and begged me (well, not really that much) to JUST BUY IT ALREADY.  (I think its was like $150+ before shipping.  Hmm....hubs telling me to buy something at Pottery Barn and I'm actually have to think about it?  (It's  a sickness, really....icanmakethatitis.)

So, after careful consideration, I actually bought it.  Yep.  I hit "add to cart" and then "checkout" and then I waited and waited and received the email that said it was on back order for 5 weeks and then waited and waited and waited and received another email that it was on back order for 8 weeks and then  waited and waiting and then finally....

I got the email that said it was discontinued and my card was not charged.

This is the world telling me that its ok to want to make things, right???

So I did.  And I love it!

Here's what you need to make your own:
Backer board (MDF, plywood, whatever) cut to size
Sheet metal, cut to size
Metal primer
Chalkboard paint
Baseboard or trim moulding
Finishing nails and glue

Here's how ya do it:
First go buy your backer board.  (Then let it sit in the garage for a few months because its like 115 degrees all summer and too hot for hubs to work outside, plus he won't let me use the circular saw....which I don't get because I use the compound miter and jig saws just fine, plus the drill and nailer, and I drive his 4 children around in a car all day which is much more dangerous.)

It would probably just be easier for the store to cut it for you then you can skip over step 1b.
Or you can just wait until your BIL comes to town so he can cut it for you. 
Mine is 4' x 5' (yes its big!)
Call a sheet metal place and have them cut you a piece of sheet metal slightly smaller than your board.  (I live in small town USA, so I'm sure your city/town will have a sheet metal place.)  I ordered mine to be 45"x57" to give me an extra 1 1/2" border all around (you'll see why later).  

Adhere your sheet metal to your backer board using heavy duty construction adhesive.  (Pardon the picture taken at night with my cell phone.)
Using an automotive primer, prime the sheet metal in a well ventilated area.  Its kinda stinky.  I did two coats.

On your next free day(s), paint it with your 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.
Here's the part where I can't find pictures.  My children have been playing with my phone lately and I'm thinking they might have "accidentally" deleted the pics of the trim etc. so I will try to explain thoroughly.

Measure and cut your 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 you used to attach the sheet metal, draw a line of glue on the wood border, place your trim down and then clamp.  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!  It sat like this for a few days because I didn't have the heavy duty hanging hardware I needed.
I found the right hardware for the weight and then hung it....once again by myself.
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....
Here's my version....and the whole reason for the board.
Our weekly menu gets put up so there are no questions about what is for dinner....except this week....on M/Th/S/S  (must get planning).

The kids weekly bible versus and "book-it" pages are on the other side...
...put up with these cute fabric button magnets (another tutorial to do.)
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, on hand
Nail and glue, 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.

Here was the push to finish it....I used it as a scoreboard for a friends sports (soccer) themed baby shower.


  1. Be glad you did not get the one from PB. My friend has it and the "chalkboard" is so thin and flimsy and has fallen apart several times. She is on her second one (sent the first one back) and is still not pleased. Very cheap quality!

  2. So cool! Thanks for sharing this. I've been wanting to make one of these for a little while now.

  3. Saw your tutorial on I heart Organizing today!!! Way to go Kelly!!!!!

    Jenn @ Peas and Crayons

  4. Hi Kelly, I also saw your post on I heart organizing. Great job on the chalkboard! I learned a trick while managing a restaurant with a chalkboard menu that you might be interested (sounds strange but trust me it works!) Clean the board first and then pour a little coke on a cloth or sponge and wipe over the whole surface of the board. When it dries you'll have a clean, black and ever so slightly tacky surface that chalk just loves to grip onto. Sam

    1. Oh my goodness this is a FABULOUS tip! I can't wait to try it, chalky chalkboards drive me nuts, lol!


  5. Hi Kelly,

    Great work on the chalkboard! I saw yoru post on Iheartorganizing as well. I also recently made a magnetic chalkboard, but instead of using sheet metal to 'magnatize' it, I just used magnetic paint under the chalkboard paint. No need for primer with this method either. It worked WONDERFULLY! Also, because I was just using paint, I painted in directly on the wall and then framed it out with molding. Super easy and Super fun for the kids! Jen.

  6. I really love your tutorial! I am about to do my own and was wondering what kind of adhesive you used and what you used to hang it because it is so heavy?



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