How to DIY a fancy chalkboard frame

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For an eco/budget friendly alternative to programs we did a chalkboard that listed all the members of the wedding party, and afterwards we’re using it as a message center at the house. It was a great multi-step tutorial that is a fantastic addition to our abode as a married duo!

The uses for this are vast… and it’s a ton of fun to see a thrift store piece of junk transformed into a usable, customizable tool at the wedding, and then in your home!

Materials:

  • Fugly mirror from Craigslist: $5 — (For best results, just type in “Mirror” in the “For Sale” section and put your maximum price. This way you’ll get listings in the wrong category as well as those in the free section. Repeat with “Frame” and “Window” for different looks)
  • Hammered Copper Spraypaint: $4
  • Rustoleum Tintable Chalkboard Paint: $12
  • Self Etching Primer (Spray Paint): $4
  • Sand Paper: $3 — (I used the rough stuff but it doesn’t really matter, it’s just to scratch up the steel so the primer will stick)
  • Sponge Brush: Ridonculously cheap, and if you’re going to do a lot of DIY you should buy in bulk.
  • Sheet of steel: Free — (I took the cardboard backing from the mirror to the prototype shop my dad works for and they cut it from scraps. Most metal shops can do this for you pretty cheaply, $5-10 at the most)
  • Acrylic paint and some Polyurethane — (Note: I’m stupid and should have gotten acrylic glaze to get the effect I wanted, so there are a LOT of mistakes on this. USE THE ACRYLIC GLAZE!)

Step 1:

Take the mirror out of the frame. Do with it what you will. Save the backing for your completed chalkboard.

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Step 2:

Spray paint the frame with the copper spray paint, doing a couple of coats. Make sure you get it from ALL angles, otherwise you’ll get an “airbrushed on the beach” look on the edges. Give it plenty of time to dry between coats. I did about three coats over two days time.

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Step 3:

Pour some acrylic glaze in a paper cup, and squeeze a few drops of your paint into it and mix. Add paint til you get the look you want to achieve. (I used half a bottle of burnt sienna because when you use the poly it sinks to the bottom and doesn’t mix well. Again USE THE ACRYLIC GLAZE! Dip a painter’s sponge or foam paintbrush into it, and apply liberally, using a rag to wipe off excess paint. You can either use it like a regular brush, or dab it on. I really smushed the paint into the nooks and crannies to show off the texture and flung a few flecks around. Yay! The frame is done!

Step 4:

Then we get to the chalkboard part. Use some heavy duty sandpaper to scratch up the surface so the paint will stick. I really made sure to wear down the corners and edges to make me less likely to slice my hand/leg off.

Close-up of board texture
Close-up of board texture

Step 5:

Then, paint two layers of the spray primer. After that primer dries and is set, apply two layers of chalkboard paint. The layers of chalkboard paint would need ample time to dry.

Step 6:

After it is completely done and dry, grab a piece of chalk and rub it down. Cover the whole board in chalk. This preps the surface. (If you don’t do this, after you erase, the chalk dust from what you wrote will be stuck there FOREVERZ. Like when you write on a window with your finger, and when you breathe on it you can see it) After you do the chalk rub, use a damp cloth to clean it off. DON’T use a paper towel because little pieces will come off and you’ll have to wipe it down about eleventy-billion times and you’ll still be picking chunks off. I would think a microfiber cloth would work best. Like a ShamWOW!

Bada-boom and you’re done! A beautiful, recycled, DIY-ed piece of awesomeness.

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