DIY Chalkboard for the Mantel

I am all about free home décor. You know, the kind that doesn’t cost anything?

It’s pretty awesome.

You know what’s even more awesome? Having a hubby who will help make the free décor! What a keeper. :)

scrap chalkboard pmWell after making our headboard and building our fence, we had some scrap wood lying around our garage. And I kept seeing lovely mantels with chalkboards on them. So I asked my hubby and he agreed to help me make one of our own!

I measured our space and he cut down a piece of the MDF leftover from our headboard. Then he cut the fence panel and mitered the corners for a 1.75” frame around the front of the MDF.photo_1[1]He attached the frame with nails and then sanded down the edges to make sure they were smooth and even. After a round of applause and a big hug, I took over from there.

I jumped right in using my fave walnut MinWax stain on the frame and sides of the MDF. I did one coat only since it took it veeeerrrry well. See how I typically apply stain here. I skipped the Wood Conditioner I typically use because 1) I was ok with an irregular stained look and 2) I plum forgot.photo_2[1] photo_3[1]After the allotted drying time I sealed the stained wood with MixWax Polycrylic. I would’ve used my fave wipe-on polyurethane but discovered my bottle had dried up (I think I didn’t quite close the cap ALL the way) and wanted to finish the project so I used what I had.

Polyurethane gives a deeper more amber finish great for stained wood whereas Polycrylic is a clear topcoat (it looks milky when applied). I typically reserve Polycrylic for painted furniture, but since the stain was so dark I don’t know that you could have seen a difference with the polyurethane.

The next day I was ready for the chalkboard paint!

I made my own by mixing:

  • ½ cup latex paint (I used a sample pot of Valspar Mountain Smoke)
  • 1 tablespoon of unsanded grout

I mixed it in a party cup by measuring out ½ cup water first and marking the line with a Sharpie so I knew how much paint to use.

photo_1[1] photo_2[1] In went my unsanded grout…photo_4[1]Then the paint. It’s pretty clumpy at first so you have to mix it well.photo_4[1]Then it becomes nice and smooth.photo_5[1]Yup, that’s smooth. It’s not going to be silky smooth like typical latex paint.

I taped off around the frame and used a small angled brush to apply two layers of paint to the MDF…photo_1[1]Coat 1…photo_2[2]Applying coat 2….photo_3[2]It looked lovely when it was all done! I chose the color of the chalkboard paint because 1)I wanted a lighter color than black 2)we had it! All about free, remember?photo_1[1]Before you use a new chalkboard, you have to “prime” it so that the first thing you write doesn’t stay on it (faintly) forever after you erase it. I didn’t know about this step before- and it’s true! I’ve experienced it.photo_2[1]You prime by rubbing chalk all over the board and then wiping it off!photo_3[1]All ready to be used!photo_4[2]

IMG_0427This is a great addition to our mantel! I love that it can be changed as we want to celebrate seasons, special occasions, or whatever!IMG_0430 IMG_0434 IMG_0433 IMG_0428What do you think of our new chalkboard? Have made any free décor projects lately from scraps? I would love to hear from you!


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