When we moved to our new place almost two years ago, my first priority was to make sure our daughter’s room was complete before anything in the house AND that she had a space of her own on the main floor. Her space (a post I wrote a long time ago) came out more perfect than I imagined but only half of it was done.
I wanted a chalkboard in our new home. A magnetic chalkboard to be exact. In our last place, she loved placing magnets on our fridge or even our door (don’t ask), but they were always in the way between the traffic in the kitchen or getting out of the house.
When Pituchi’s play area was completed, my husband asked me where on earth would I place a chalkboard? I simply turned his head to my blank canvas…underneath the kitchen counter.
That’s right! I mean it’s such wasted space, especially if the counter is too high and we can’t place bar stools…even though sitting at the counter is a little annoying. I know, I’m weird. It felt like an eye sore to me (again, I’m weird), so I thought, why not continue her space there?
I can hear her play on the chalkboard when I’m in the kitchen, she can practice her writing skills, learn her alphabets, numbers, shapes, words, colors, and anything else made magnetic. The possibilities are really endless and I simply wanted another fun learning outlet for her.
However, finding a magnetic chalkboard already made is hard because it’s either too expensive, it came as just a chalkboard or they didn’t have the size and style I wanted. Then, when I researched on how to make one myself, I quickly realized that many people used magnetic primer. Those words alone made me say, oh, heck NO! It just seemed like too much work for something so simple.
In comes my handy husband and his everlasting patience with my looney ideas.
First things first! How the heck did we make it magnetic? Ah…well ya see…after researching how magnets work, and what I can use in place of that magnetic primer, I came across this!
It was the perfect size I had been looking for (and for that price, hello!). After showing my husband and asking if he can build a frame for it, we went out and bought it. Be careful when you take this out of the box, I highly recommend using gloves because you might cut yourself.
Which then came, the chalkboard part. After seeing lots of DIY chalkboard walls, the consensus was pretty unanimous that it was easy to create…all you needed was a little paint. And no, not spray paint, in fact, some people said it was almost a waste because of how many coats needed to be done.
Make sure to mix the paint really well in the can! It can take a little while but it’s well worth it for the end result. Place the sheet on two large pieces of cardboard so you don’t paint your floor on accident. Using a foam roller paint the steel, one coat at a time, in one direction. It will dry pretty quickly. I did 4 coats (just to make sure everything was even) in between 1 hour intervals.
The next day, I got some chalk and colored the entire sheet, making sure it was completely coated. You’re basically seasoning the board and prepping it for further use.
Once it was all coated, grab a rag and wipe off all the chalk. Perhaps even contemplate what nail color to paint your hands because good Lord do they look awful!
And that’s it! The magnetic chalkboard is halfway done. Now for the frame. I originally thought I would find a frame the same size as the sheet, until my husband told me it wouldn’t be possible because the frame needed to be bigger in order for the steel to be placed inside properly.
Oh, great. Guess what babe? You’re making me a frame!
You will need the following:
Two 1 by 3 inch pine planks measuring 27 inches
Two 1 by 3 inch pine planks measuring 34 inches
2 in. Zinc-Plated Mending Plate (4 pack) ***Danny says, if you have a kreg pocket hole jig, that’s preferable to make the frame but the mending plate would work just fine***
Minwax Wood Finish Special Walnut (or stain of your choice)
Minwax Finishing Wax (or any type of polyurethane or polycyrlic of your choice; spray versions are good, just make you spray SEPARATELY from the actual metal chalkboard)
36 inch by 24 inch peg board (Home Depot or Lowes can cut this down to size for you)
You can get the planks cut to size at Home Depot or Lowes if you don’t have a saw at home; make sure to ask when you go to the wood section at the store. Build the frame separately from the chalkboard, by using the braces and lining them up in the back with screws.
Then lightly sand the planks with the sanding sheets. Stir the stain of your choice really well before applying it on the wood (you’re going to need a rag for this). After you apply the stain, let it dry for however amount of time it says on the can (this can vary on the temperature outside). Next, apply the polyurethane to the frame and let that dry completely. Lightly sand the frame after it has dried. You can apply more coats if you’d like, just make sure you lightly sand between coats.
To give you an idea of how the planks line up on the front:
Once the frame was put together, we needed something to reinforce the sheet metal so we used a peg board which was both cheap and effective.
Danny lined up the peg board with the sheet metal and the frame, there should be a 1 inch overlay around the entire frame. Using 1/2 inch metal screws, Danny drilled into the pegboard, through the sheet metal, and into the frame.
Note: if you have a router you can cut out a 1/4 inch deep inlay about 1 inch around the entire inside of the frame and the sheet/pegboard will sit flush with the back of the frame…we don’t have a router but Danny is constantly trying to convince me we need one…he wanted to make sure I included this in the post. HA!
Next we bought some D-rings and screwed those into the back of the frame and made sure they were level.
To complete the Chalkboard space look, I bought these metal hanging folders on Amazon and spray painted them coral to match our daughter’s chair in her play area. This was perfect because they didn’t stick out so much where I could bang myself and it was deep enough to add a good amount of magnets!
These are the best chalk for toddler hands, less messy too!
The Container Store came in handy when I was trying to find a small basket that could be drilled into the wall while holding the chalk and eraser. The colors are perfect for a toddler space!
And last but not least, I wanted to personalize my daughter’s space with some inspiration art. My husband had some scrap wood lying around so after sanding it down for me, I simply painted it with acrylic paint I had on hand (the same one I used for her book shelf in her play space) and mod podged some whimsical scrap paper I found at Michaels.
My word was Imagine, simply because I always want my children to use their imagination especially while they learn. The letters were found in Michaels too, painted with acrylic paint, and hot glued onto the wood.
Now came the hanging part!
My husband hates this part…luckily for him, we had a little helper on stand by!
She looked so little in these pictures, always eager to learn and help Daddy with his tools. These were taken a long time ago and her eagerness to help has only increased. 🙂
The finished play/learning space was more than I envisioned and I couldn’t be happier!
My daughter loves this so much! She practices her writing skills, her alphabet, and has a different outlet to learn words! And the magnets! The possibilities are endless with what you can find magnetic and it’s such a different way for them to educate themselves!
Can you tell I’m excited?
Next time you see a pointless use of space, think twice about it…you’ll never know if that weird canvas will actually spark your creativity or silly side…
And this was SO worth it. 🙂