Hide the chalkboard paint!

It has been said that I’ll paint you with chalkboard paint if you’re still long enough in my presence. I might have a problem. But more on that later…

So… we demo’ed the spindled entry and built a wall around our formal dining room to make a classroom, creating a hallway and a little entryway in the process.

entry (2)

Then we were waiting for special order doors to arrive; they will slide into the wall where this tiny opening is.

door opening

It was January by now and we were starting back to school, so I cleaned up the classroom and had to get our boards ready to use.


One end of our classroom has a huge window, which is wonderful! The two walls perpendicular to the window wall hold Expedit units with desk attachments. The Expedit houses books and supplies for homeschooling, as well as itso bins and Kassett boxes that contain toys, costumes, art supplies, even baby books. Pretty much everything you’d have in a craft room, play room, office, and classroom is stored in these wonderful pieces from IKEA. (Has Target discontinued itso? I don’t recall seeing any in stores in quite some time, though I haven’t been looking.)

Side note: We slowly bought these pieces over time. I would have bought white if they had it back when we started, but we bought birch to match a malm bed we bought for my oldest son years ago. We bought the 1×5 (see it under the window?) back when it was enough for toy storage and we had just started homeschooling. The first 5×5 unit was purchased a year after that. We got most of the itso bins from my third baby shower (practically all I registered for–third boy and all); we used them to store diapers, onesies, socks and blankets. We added a desk unit when our oldest son outgrew his first little school table and we later added another 5×5 unit and eventually another desk attachment. We also have malm nightstands (the first of which we bought for my son’s malm bed) functioning as file drawers underneath. These Expedit units have been one of our best purchases ever. I highly recommend! This setup would be quite pricey if you bought it all at once (though very reasonable for what all you’d be getting), but it was acquired over about a seven year period for us. (Yes, I’m aware that this is the worst run-on paragraph–is that a thing?–in the history of the world, but I’m trying to contain my side note to one little paragraph.) The chairs are from Walmart and they were also purchased one at a time as the kids got bigger. They started at $25 a few years ago and have gone up a bit each time I purchased one. The first two were under the Your Zone brand, and the last three (we have an orange one not pictured) were Mainstays. The pink one is mine. 🙂

The wall opposite the window is what we just built. That is the area I wanted to use for my board space, since it can be seen from both desks. I am not a huge fan of the mess that chalk makes for everyday usage, but my youngest son loves chalk and keeping him entertained and occupied during school hours is vital. So I decided to do a chalk board on one side of the door opening, and a white board on the other. I use the top of the board for things that don’t get erased every day (like scripture we’re working on long-term) and let the four-year old use the bottom if he so chooses.

chalkboard wall

I much prefer a white board, so I put it on the other side of the door opening. If any of you have priced large dry-erase boards, you know they cost a kajillion dollars. I’ve used the wall board from Lowe’s in the past and I love it. It’s definitely the best solution for the money.

Since this was new drywall and had no texture, I thought I’d try the dry-erase paint rather than cutting another wall board to fit this space and having to attach it to the wall and move it some day down the road if/when we move. I figured if I used the paint, I could paint over it easily and be done with it.

I remembered seeing a display of dry-erase paint at Lowe’s near the paint counter. So I ran over there and picked up a kit. I couldn’t find a price anywhere on the display (which seemed odd), but I figured it couldn’t be too expensive and went to the checkout. It rang up $140. ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY DOLLARS!!  For a quart of paint. I was obviously shocked. As was the cashier. I asked if that could possibly have been entered incorrectly and she paged a paint guy. He saw it and laughed. He said they haven’t sold any and everyone has the same response, but that is, in fact, the correct price.

I drove over to their competition and picked up a kit for $20. The reviews weren’t great, but they weren’t horrible. Some of the people clearly didn’t follow the directions, so I was willing to give it a try. (I read the reviews on Home Depot’s site as well as Amazon since HD only had a dozen or so.)

dry erase

First I primed all of the new drywall in the classroom and in the new hallway. Any cheap primer will work for this. It doesn’t need to be stain blocking or odor blocking or any of those fancy features. I picked up this gallon at Walmart while I was stocking up on bread with all of America. A storm was a comin’.

drywall primer

Primer dries in about an hour, so I was able to move to the dry-erase paint the same evening. I followed the directions to the letter! It had two separate cans that had to be mixed together, causing some sort of chemical reaction apparently.

It was kind of like painting with milk. The paint was super thin and very drippy. I knew to expect that from the reviews I read, so I placed an old towel on the floor beneath my work area. We didn’t have baseboards on yet (still don’t actually), but if you do you’d definitely want to tape them off.

milky paint

I don’t recall how much time the can said you had to do this before the product stopped working, but it wasn’t very long. It was either 60 or 90 minutes. I used a foam roller and worked like a mad woman to get four coats on in time. I barely noticed a difference after one coat, and it was very streaky after two. The third coat looked much better, but since I had enough left (and ten or fifteen minutes) I went ahead and did a fourth coat.


See the plate where we covered the old light switch? That switch was to the hallway light. The switch for this room is near the chalkboard wall. Also, check out that crazy shadow. We’re definitely looking for new lighting in here.

I still had a small amount of paint left, so I grabbed the coffee table out of the living room and painted the top. I knew I would be building a new coffee table soon, so I figured this could be a fun table for the then-three-year old to use. I also put four coats on it (I took this pic after two coats); they went on this small surface in about two minutes each. I’m pretty sure I went over the time limit by a few minutes; I live on the edge like that. (There were disastrous results for some other reviewers who took too long, but it works fine for us. I imagine they went much longer over the limit??)

dryerase table

After I had a decaf latte (it was too late for caffeine) and checked Facebook, I started on the chalkboard wall. I seriously needed to chill for a minute. Painting with that dry-erase paint had me all stressed out. I just knew it was going to cause a nuclear explosion at the end of the hour or something.

When I realized the house wasn’t going to blow up, I painted a coat of flat black paint over the primed drywall. I already had this paint on hand, and I knew that if I used it first, I wouldn’t have to use as many coats of the pricier chalkboard paint. Besides, I wanted the chalkboard paint to stretch enough to do the newly-created entryway.

flat black

I also followed these instructions to the letter. I’ve used chalkboard paint several different times in the last few years, with differing results. I wanted to make sure and follow all the directions to the letter for the best chalkboard surface possible.

chalkboard 24 hours

It said to wait 24 hours for recoating. I do not understand why, but I obeyed. This took a few days, since I needed my regular flat paint to dry over night and then I needed two coats of chalkboard paint. I painted the wall to the left of the classroom doorway and then I did the newly-created entryway.

chalk entry

That chest is pulled out from the wall because I had begun painting behind it when this picture was taken. This entryway isn’t huge, but it is deeper than this pic makes it appear. (I’ll show you the hallway and more of the entry soon.) (And I have plans to paint that door.)

Look…a squirrel…


Remember this spot over our bed? I had spray painted this formerly-white round frame when we had an unseasonably warm day. I used Tropical Oasis (the kitchen table is painted in the latex version of this color).

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The frame was purchased a few years ago from Gordman’s for 97¢. It was so cheap because it had broken glass. It was actually for a pre-teen girl’s room; it was black and the image was zebra stripped. It said, “girlz rule,” I think. I sprayed it white for use somewhere else in the past. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was planning to do with it, but figured it could be a place holder until I found something more sophisticated for over our bed.


While I had the chalkboard paint out, I decided I’d make a chalkboard to fit this frame. I asked the hubs to cut me a circle while I was painting the entryway. Then I just painted a couple coats over the course of a couple of days and glued it into the frame. I scribbled out Ecclesiastes 4:11-12 because we were in the middle of a snowstorm and it seemed doubly fitting.

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Notice that I also added a little more color to the bed than what we had when that pic further up was taken. When I went to IKEA to return my rug, I grabbed this turquoise blanket and sham set. It was totally an impulse purchase, but you know…when you have a few hundred dollars on store credit and the store is hours away, you feel okay spending it. The added warmth has been great this exceptionally cold winter.


Bye, bye squirrel…

Even though we were back to doing school, we waited a full week to use either board so they could fully cure. (The dry-erase paint suggested a three day wait.) And then we still had to wait on the doors….