How to Make a Giant Outdoor Chalkboard
Step-by-step instructions with photos for how to make an outdoor chalkboard. The kids are going to love playing outside with this!
Having fun things for the kiddos to do outside is a must and this outdoor chalkboard that we made for our lil' lady's 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 some time 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!
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How to Build an Outdoor Chalkboard
Tip: We got our supplies at The Home Depot and discovered that you can actually buy online, they gather it all up for you and you pick it up! Hooray for never walking around that giant store lost again!
What you need to build an outdoor chalkboard:
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I link directly to the supplies we used here:
- (2) 3 x 5 x .42 Hardie Backer Boards - this will be the chalkboard
- (6) 1 x 3 x 8 boards for the frames
- (4) 5/16 x 3 lag bolts to attach the finished product to the fence.
- Quart of chalkboard paint
- Quart of outdoor paint in the color of your choice for the frame
- Tube of liquid nails (and a caulk gun if you don't already have one)
- (28) #7 1 ¼ 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.
Measure and mark 12 inches from the 3 ft. edge of each piece of backer board.(You'll be cutting 1 foot off of each piece of 5x3 backer boards to make 4x3 pieces if you're making an 8 foot chalkboard.)
Draw a straight line 12 inches in from the short edge using the marks you just made.
Score many times along the line with a utility knife until you get a pretty deep groove.
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.
Voila! The board comes apart and now you have a 3x4 piece of backer board. Now do the same thing to the other piece.
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.
Cut 4 30-¾ inch pieces of the frame board. You'll use 2 now and 2 for the front frame in step 15.
Set the backer board to the side and recreate the frame on the ground.
Put a bead of liquid nails on the frame board using a caulk gun.
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.
Reinforce the back frame that you just built with screws about every 18 inches using a power drill.
Cut 2 or 3 small pieces of frame board from a scrap piece, drill along the seam where the 2 pieces of backer board come together, and attach the small pieces with short screws.
One of the problems we ran into was that the seam where the 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.
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.
Apply 2 generous coats of chalkboard paint with a roller, allowing it to dry between coats.
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.
Paint the frame pieces in the color of your choice with outdoor paint. Allow everything to dry.
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.)
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.
Predrill holes in the frame of the chalkboard.
Secure the chalkboard to the fence posts using the lag bolts.
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.)
How To Season An Outdoor Chalkboard
After the paint is dried and cured, it's necessary to season the chalkboard prior to the first use. Take a piece of chalk on its side and rub it all over the chalkboard surface in a circular pattern. Then take a dry old rag and rub it in in the same circular pattern. Shake it out as needed and keep rubbing until it’s pretty much erased.
Hang the chalk buckets and let the kiddos go wild!
Now, between our outdoor living room where the adults can hang and this fun spot for the kids to play, I think we're ready for hours of fun outside!
Frequently Asked Questions - DIY Giant Chalkboard
Why does the chalkboard need to be seasoned?
If you don't season it first, the chalk won't fully erase and there will be ghosts of previous images and words on the chalkboard.
What's the purpose of the frame on the back?
The frame adds stability. It helps hold the 2 pieces together and holds it a little bit away from the fence so it dries better and doesn’t affect the fence.
Would it be okay to get an 8 ft backer board instead of using two 5 ft and adjusting?
The 8 foot wide piece is 4 feet tall which was too large for our needs. If you’re fine with that height (and extra weight!) and your fence posts are at least 8 feet apart, go for it!
Was there a reason you used pine?
Pine holds up fine in my dry region of California if it’s painted. If you live in an area where weather is a factor, I suggest using cedar or pressured treated wood for more weatherproofing.
How much did this project cost?
It cost about $100.
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