How to Make a Giant Outdoor Chalkboard


Kids love sidewalk chalk, but the mess it causes can be a headache. So I built a giant outdoor chalkboard for the fence and it's provided hours of fun outside. In order for a chalkboard to last outside you'll need to use a few special materials.

Here you'll find a complete tutorial with photos to make your own DIY outdoor chalkboard, a materials list, lots of tips, and answers to your big questions.

Fun Fact! This tutorial was the first DIY project (and actually the first post) here on HeyThereHome.com! I made this outdoor chalkboard for my daughter’s third birthday in 2013 and we just took it down at the end of 2023. It was still going strong, and lasted 10 years with no manintenance.

How to Make A Chalkboard That Will Last Outdoors

Before we get into what supplies you'll need, let me answer some common questions about the materials themselves.

Is chalk paint water proof?

I used regular chalkboard paint and it lasted outside no problem. We don't have snow where I live, but it lasted over 10 years with rain, cold, and high heat.

Can you use cement board outside?

Yes. Cement board is great for a project like this because it doesn't absorb water, therefore it won't rot or warp.

Can you paint backerboard?

Yes you can paint backerboard. In this case we applied the chalkboard paint directly to the cement backerboard.

Can you use sidewalk chalk on a chalkboard?

We only used sidewalk chalk on our outdoor chalkboard for years. The key is to season your chalkboard well before use and then regularly especially after it has gotten wet from the rain. This will make it easy to erase.

What you need for a DIY outdoor chalkboard

**Tip: Use the links below to shop for your supplies at The Home Depot. When you buy online, they gather it all up for you and you pick it up! Hooray for never walking around that giant store lost again!

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience. Read the full disclosure.

I link directly to the supplies we used here:

Steps To Make An Outdoor Chalkboard

Because you’ll be using cement board your finished project will be heavy. If you plan to attach it to a fence, I highly recommend you attach it directly to fence posts so it can hold the weight. Take the width of your fence posts into consideration when planning the size of your giant chalkboard.

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'll want to make your chalkboard longer or shorter accordingly.

Cut the Hardie backer boards

STEP 1: 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.)

DIY chalkboard tutorial

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: Voila! The board comes apart and now you have a 3x4 piece of backer board. Now do the same thing to the other piece.

Create a back frame for your outdoor chalkboard

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 30-¾ inch pieces of the frame board. You'll use 2 now and 2 for the front frame in step 15.

Outdoor Chalkboard Tutorial

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.

Outdoor chalkboard for kids

STEP 11: Reinforce the back frame that you just built with screws about every 18 inches using a power drill.

Reinforce the middle seam

STEP 12: 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.

make a big chalkboard

Paint with chalkboard paint

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.

Create the front frame of your outdoor chalkboard

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 using liquid nails to hold in place.

STEP 18: Reinforce with screws and putty and paint as necessary.

outdoor activities for preschoolers giant chalkboard

Install your outdoor chalkboard 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.

STEP 19: Predrill holes in the frame of the chalkboard.

STEP 20: Secure the chalkboard to the fence posts using the lag bolts.

chalkboard tutorialPin

Attach hooks for chalk buckets

STEP 22: 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.)

Outdoor Chalkboard Hangs On FencePin

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 and after it gets wet. This will make it easy to erase.

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.

How Is Our DIY Outdoor Chalkboard Holding Up After 3 Years?

The short answer is, awesome! It pretty much looks like the day we hung it up on the fence and has been outside year round with absolutely no maintenance what-so-ever. Well, besides replacing the plastic buckets and the sidewalk chalk supply.

Will a chalkboard last outsidePin

Let's take a look at why and how this easy DIY project lasted outside in the elements for so long.

Why did it hold up so well?

The Hardie backer board which is cement board is the same stuff you would use when tiling a tub surround. Unlike drywall it doesn’t absorb moisture so it doesn’t expand and contract.

The chalkboard paint we used is just regular chalkboard paint, and we haven’t had to put a new coat of paint on either. When the kids leave their art and scribbles on it for a few days, it’s a little bit harder to erase, especially if it has rained or been damp. But the easy fix is to season the chalkboard again.

You can see in the image below that there hasn’t been any weather damage.

DIY chalkboard after 3 yearsPin

Did you leave the chalkboard outside year round?

Yep! Granted we live in Southern California so we don't have snow, but it does rain. We have some pretty humid months and it hasn't been a problem.

Our outdoor chalkboard after 3 yearsPin

This has been a great addition to our backyard. It’s a fun spot for the kids to hang out and for us to sit back and sip an adult beverage while they play a fierce game of tic-tac-toe or practice their writing.

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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