Wednesday, August 10, 2011

DIY Magnetic Chalk Board…Without Magnet Paint

I am in love with chalkboard paint.  After I completed my first chalkboard paint project, I was always looking for new ways to incorporate it into my future projects.  After a little Google image search I was completely blown away by the use of chalkboard paint on walls.  Especially in kitchens like these!

I had my eye on this wall in my kitchen as the perfect spot to create a chalkboard wall.

Then the hubby vetoed it because he was too nervous to paint the whole wall in chalkboard paint.  You have to respect some skepticism so I regrouped and created a whole new plan.  This wall would be used as an organization/message center that included a magnetic chalk board, cork board, and mail sorter.  I thought this would be the perfect solution to a very serious problem that plagued our kitchen: the huge stack of unsorted mail and pictures.  I taped off the dimensions of all three components to make sure they would fit, and played around with the placement until I got it just right! 

My first attempt at my magnetic chalkboard was an epic fail.  I spotted an old mirror that the previous owners left and thought that would make for the perfect size and frame for a chalkboard mirror.  I went out and bought magnet paint (which was super expensive – around $20.00) and started painting thin layers.  Then that is where the situation went down hill.  Magnetic paint is oil based, meaning that it doesn’t wash out with regular soap and water. You can remove it with paint thinner or gas….guess what we had on hand the first night?  After that I used gloves and bought a large can of paint thinner (also expensive).  I used foam brushes that I decided it was easier to thrown away after each use than to clean.  Long story short after 8 – 10 layers of magnet paint it was goopy and wasn’t drying well despite waiting well after the recommended drying time to add layers.  And the kick in the butt was that the magnets didn’t adhere very well.  After some Google searching I found out that you need super strong earth magnets to use with this paint to make a strong magnetic connection.  Needless to say the whole project ended up in the garbage. 

That is when things got creative.  After a massive search of what I could find that was both magnetic and cheap I came upon something called Rolled Flashing.  It’s used for roofing, but it is also magnetic and 14 inches wide so it was a perfect solution.  After a trip to Home Depot and a trip around the garage I gathered up all the materials to make the project:
  • Rolled Flashing – 14 inches x 10 feet
  • Small Nails
  • Chalkboard Paint  
  • Tin Snips
  • Sand Paper
  • Trim pieces
  • Board 14 inch x 48 inches
  • Hammer
  • Finishing Nailer
  • Skil Saw or Table Saw
  • Chop Saw
  • White Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Picture hook

First you need to cut your board down to size if you aren’t able to by a board with the right dimensions, which we weren’t.  We went with the cheapest board we could get because it will just be used as a backing and nobody will really be seeing it. 

For the longer distance we made a chalk line to make sure everything was straight all the way through. 

 Then the hubby freehanded the cut with a Skil saw.  You could also use a table saw for this cut, or sometimes if you butter up the hardware store employees they may  be able to cut it for you. 

 Next, lay the flashing on top of the board and cut the flashing to length with tin snips.  After you have made your cut nail the flashing onto your board.  I recommend starting on one end and working your way down to avoid getting bubbles in the metal. 

After, sand down the flashing and wipe it clean.  This makes the chalkboard paint easier to adhere to the metal.  

Then, it’s painting time!  I did 6-7 light coats of the chalkboard paint allowing ample dry time in between coats.  I sprayed it outside and then brought it into the garage to let it dry.  There were several times something made its way through my paint job, but I allowed the paint to dry and lightly sanded the bumps and grooves before giving it another coat. 

Next, give the edges of your board and your trim pieces 2-3 coats of white paint.  I bought my trim already painted white, but it still needed several coats to get to the nice bright white I wanted it to be. 

 Then, custom cut your trim pieces to the length of your board using a Chop Saw.  Cut the edges of the trim at a 45 degree angle and cut all pieces before nailing your trim into your board.  This is extra insurance so that if you make a mistake you can tweak your cuts before you nail everything in. 

 Nail in your boards with a finishing nailer to make sure that you don’t get those big hammer dents in your finished project.  Next, attach a picture hook to the back of your chalkboard, making sure it is centered and in the middle.  Touch up the cut edges where the trim fits together, the nail holes, and any other area that needs it with a white coat of paint.  Let it dry and you have your finished project.  Check back in Friday for the big reveal!

Here was the budget breakdown:

Rolled Flashing  $10.00
Small Nails – had
Sand Paper –had
Chalkboard Paint –had from previous project
Trim $13.00
Board - $6.00
White Paint – had from leftover paint from previous owners

Total: $29.00


  1. Such a fun project. I am thinking of making a couple for my wedding for the menu and specialty cocktail list!


  2. little miss southern love - I adore chalkboards at weddings! Good luck if you decide to take on the project!

  3. i want to do this to a small wall area. Do you think I could just attach the flashing directly to the wall? then sand and paint? Thanks for the post. Amanda

  4. I think that would work with some tweaks! You would have to be REALLY careful to use spray paint inside OR you could use the brush on chalkboard paint. I just finished a project with the brush on kind and it turned out great! The important part would be to get wide enough metal flashing to cover the area you want. If you are using more than one piece you will likely have some seams and will also have small seams where the flashing ends and the wall begins. If you want to make it more refined you could always add the trim pieces right to the wall! Hope this helps.


Let me know what you think. I would love to hear from you!