Having fun things for the kiddos to do outside is a must and this outdoor chalkboard that we made for our lil’ lady’s 3rd birthday is a total hit! It gives her a place to be creative and draw without all the chalk on the ground, which ends up on our feet, which ends up all over our dark floors in the house –not cool.
This outdoor chalkboard wasn’t difficult to make and it was definitely worth the effort! —It’s been over 3 years since we put this chalkboard up and it’s still going strong! You can read about how it’s held up here.
We’ll walk you through all the steps to make an outdoor chalkboard and how to avoid some snags we remedied along the way! I love the way it looks and it is a great use of space along our side yard!
How to Build an Outdoor Chalkboard
- (2) 3×5 HardieBacker Boards – this will be the chalkboard
- (6) 1 x 3 x 8 boards 1x3x8 wood boards for the frames
- (4) 5/16 x 3 Lag bolts to attach the finished product to the fence.
- a quart of chalkboard paint
- a quart of outdoor paint in the color of your choice for the frame
- a tube of liquid nails (and a caulk gun if you don’t already have one)
- (28) #7×1-1/4 inch screws
- (2) hooks to hang the buckets of chalk. Be sure they’re not too pointy or come out too far because you don’t want your kids to get poked.
Our fence measures 8 feet from one post to the next which is why we’re making an 8 foot chalkboard. If you have more or less space between your posts you may want to make your chalkboard longer or shorter accordingly.
Step 1: Measure and mark 12 inches from the 3 foot edge of each piece of backer board. (You’ll be cutting 1 foot off of each piece of 5×3 backer boards to make 4×3 pieces if you’re making an 8 foot chalkboard.)
Step 2: Draw a straight line 12 inches in from the short edge using the marks you just made.
Step 3: Score many times along the line with a utility knife until you get a pretty deep groove.
Step 4: Place a piece of the frame board under the board with the edge along the line you just scored and apply pressure until the board breaks along the line. If it is not breaking you’ll need to score the board some more to make the groove deeper.
Step 5: Voilà! The board comes apart and now you have a 3×4 piece of backer board. Now do the same thing to the other piece.
Step 6: With the short sides of the 2 pieces of backer board together, place two of the 8 foot long frame boards down the long edges and trim if necessary.
Step 7: Cut 4 30-3/4 inch pieces of the frame board. You’ll use 2 now and 2 for the front frame in step 15.
Step 8: Set the backer board to the side and recreate the frame on the ground.
Step 9: Put a bead of liquid nails on the frame board using a caulk gun.
Step 10: Now, with the help of a buddy, lift each piece of backer board onto the frame (with the side that you will use as the chalkboard facing up.) Apply pressure.
Step 11: Reinforce the back frame that you just built with screws about every 18 inches using a power drill.
Step 12: Cut 2 or 3 small pieces of frame board from a scrap piece and drill along the seam where the 2 pieces of backer board come together –One of the problems we ran into was that the seam where backer boards came together was not smooth. There was a little bit of a step, which would be annoying when drawing. This was our remedy.
Step 13: Flip the entire project over and get ready for the fun part…Painting!
(Optional) Caulk the seam with exterior or waterproof caulk and let dry before painting.
Step 14: Apply 2 generous coats of chalkboard paint with a roller allowing it to dry between coats.
Step 15: Dry fit the frame boards in the same way you did for the back frame with the 8 foot pieces along the long sides and 2 shorter pieces (that you cut in step 7) along the short sides.
Step 16: Paint the frame pieces in the color of your choice with outdoor paint. Allow everything to dry.
Step 17: Place the frame on the blackboard and reinforce with screws. (You can putty and paint these if you want to when it is installed on the fence.)
Step 18: Lean the chalkboard against the fence where you want to install it. –This is important so that you can find where you will need to predrill holes in your fence posts and the frame.
**Note: Keep in mind the height of the kiddos who’ll be using it. We hung ours 14 inches off the ground so that our 3 year old could reach to the top, and our littlest one will be able to use the bottom portion from a sitting position so he can join in before he can even walk!
Step 19: Predrill holes in the frame of the chalkboard.
Step 20: Secure the chalkboard to the fence posts using the lag bolts.
Step 21: Decide where you want the hooks to hold the buckets of chalk and install them —ours are 11 inches from the bottom of the frame.
Step 22: Hang the chalk buckets and let the kiddos go wild!