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Chalkboard Paint Home Helpers

If you thought chalkboards were just for schoolrooms, think again. These wipe-off writing surfaces make handy helpers around the home, too.




Thanks to paint that dries into a chalkboard finish, your board can be whatever size you desire and placed wherever you like. Store-bought formulas come in traditional green and black. But you can also follow our recipe to mix your own batch in any shade. Cleverly applied chalkboard paint means new places to track appointments, keep lists, and leave messages. Or simply use the surface to draw or doodle, which will appeal to kids and the kid in everyone. Choose from the following ideas or come up with your own homemade chalkboard location.

Tip: Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. For small areas, such as a door panel, mix 1 cup at a time.

Wall Calendar

A home office is the ideal spot for a family planner. Six weeks' worth of squares in a variety of shades can accommodate several schedules. The entire wall is also coated with chalkboard paint for more memos. Start with a base coat of store-bought black chalkboard paint, and then mix in varying amounts of white chalkboard paint for lighter squares.

Mudroom Mural

The bottom half of a mudroom wall is just the right height for pint-size Picassos -- when coated with store-bought green chalkboard paint. When inspiration strikes again, the canvas can be wiped clean with a damp sponge. Corkboard, available at home centers, covers the wall above the chair rail, providing an area for art displays. The cork was colored with latex paint to match the room.

Message Center

Write-on paint needn't be applied only to walls. We coated three framed panels and leaned them on an entryway shelf, where they function as miniature chalkboards. To create a similar effect, measure and cut pieces of sanded plywood, and slip them into picture frames. Cover each panel, frame and all, with primer and chalkboard paint; our topcoat coordinates with the aqua-blue walls.

Pantry Reminder

Covered with chalkboard paint, a pantry door serves as the perfect place to keep a running shopping list. In this case, only the inside panels were coated, but we custom-colored the paint so that it blends seamlessly with the rest of the door. This concept also works on children's closet doors. Always tape off those areas that you don't want to paint, such as knobs and hardware.


  • Flat-finish latex paint
  • Mixing container
  • Unsanded tile grout
  • Paint stirrer
  • Roller or sponge paintbrush
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Chalk
  • Sponge


  1. Step 1

    Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. For small areas, such as a door panel, mix 1 cup at a time. Pour 1 cup of paint into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout. Mix with a paint stirrer, carefully breaking up clumps.

  2. Step 2


    Apply paint with a roller or a sponge paintbrush to a primed or painted surface. Work in small sections, going over the same spot several times to ensure full, even coverage. Let dry.

  3. Step 3

    Smooth area with 150-grit sandpaper, and wipe off dust.

  4. Step 4

    To condition, rub the side of a piece of chalk over entire surface. Wipe away residue with a barely damp sponge.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2007



Reviews (79)

  • nicoleansel 18 Mar, 2015

    Chalkboard paint is really an innovative way to paint kitchen wall, dining table wall, or kids’ bedroom. I have bought a new apartment recently, and I apply chalkboard paint to the wall right next to my study table, that would help me to solve any math problem or any science equation without using any paper and look good.

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    When sanding the homemade chalkboard paint - it "scratched" my surface up. Please help! What should I do? Wet rag?

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  • Annie501 7 May, 2013

    Love the idea of a DIY chalkboard. But, can't find unsanded tile grout in smaller than 10lb. bag. No thanks. Can anyone help w/suggestions? I could use Rustoleum's chalkboard paint, but then the paint I bought to match my decor will go to waste. No thanks to that, too. I'm in Kansas, which I think is the problem...would appreciate any assistance re: where I can find small amount of tile grout. Thanks~~Annie

  • Emma Howard 6 Jan, 2013

    Using white chalk only is recommended by a professional chalk board paint company whose paint I have used on a 4'x8' piece of masonite board. If you mix different shades of the ground color, you can add dimension to the board with motifs. I used white transfer paper from art supply store to transfer a hand drawn pencil design from tracing paper onto the board. The white transfer paper has same look and feel as white chalk lines. I'm excited to try mixing my own chalkboard paint.

  • Chrissie82 10 Oct, 2012

    I followed these instructions carefully and have ended up with a wall full of writing that won't wipe off. Where did I go wrong and how can I fix this?
    Also, it doesn't look or feel like chalkboard texture, should it? Maybe I didn't sand enough?

  • gspires 23 Aug, 2012

    I bought Satin paint instead of flat, would that make a difference?

  • betty c 18 Aug, 2012

    I tried this last night, it worked great--I premixed the unsanded grout first with water, until all the lumps were gone, then added the paint. It was thick, but I could still use a roller. It dried quickly, I did 2 coats, and then prepared it as suggested (sanding and chalking). One caveat: I painted over a sheet metal slab on the wall that I thought would make a nice magnetic base, but the paint doesn't stick so well to the metal, and scrapes off easily. The paint directly on the wall is fine.

  • DQJunker 9 Aug, 2012

    I've noticed a few comments about the mixture being quite thick. I use a similar recipe for chalk paint on my repurposed furniture pieces. You want to make sure your buying UNsanded Grout. This makes a huge difference and adding a bit of water before hand should not have any effect on your paint either. I find that if you let your mixture sit about ten minutes and give it another good stir most of your lumps will be gone. Hope this helps!

  • mc254 21 Jul, 2012

    I just tried this on an outdoor picnic table for my daughter and it looks great! We let her select a deep paint color at our local big box home improvement store and purchased 2 sample pots of indoor/outdoor flat paint ($6). I took the advice of another commentor and made a grout slurry with a bit of water before adding the paint. Now she can sit and color outdoors

  • dreafashionista 3 Jun, 2012

    Can this be used on a wall, for a kids room? If so, how will that effect the wall for use later? Will it be ruined or can it be painted over?

  • cgriggs 22 Nov, 2010

    Just finished my chalkboard wall and Calendar. The marking off and taping for the calendar was the most difficult part. To make my custom color for the calendar I used the pre-tinted testers from the Martha Stewart paint line at home depot. They come in 8oz samples that I mixed 2 TBS of grout.

  • doxy 29 Aug, 2010

    Oh this is outstanding. I'm getting ready to remodel my kitchen, and I've been vacillating between backsplash ideas for one side of my galley kitchen. Custom colored chalkboard paint is going to be absolutely ideal for this area.

  • AmyeToTheRescue 11 Aug, 2010

    Really Great!

  • LLaVasseur 3 Aug, 2010

    Love this! I have a huge 5x4 framed sheetrock calendar that I painted with black metallic Chalkboard paint hung in my kitchen, but having the option of color means that I can have chalkboards in other rooms as well.
    I use chalkboard markers. has anyone used these on Martha's recipe? Sometimes they are difficult to wash off my calendar, but I don't mind because it is not the actual wall. Rather, it is an additional piece of sheetrock.

  • emilyteagarden 1 Aug, 2010

    Being a Time Saver Extraordinaire! I like this idea BUT, its not time effective,
    because now you have to rewrite the list before you leave to go to that store or rewrite multiple times for all the different stores as I hardly ever get all my shopping done in one triip.

  • DryFarmersWife 7 May, 2010

    This is thick and lumpy. so on the second batch, I made a "grout slurrey". start with grout, add a LITTLE water, get all lumps out and everything wet, THEN add to paint. add water as needed. between coats paint thickens, just add water (latex paint, not oil). sand between coats to make smoother chalkboard. clean board with damp washcloth, eraser doesn't work. just made board w/ "magnetic" base coat My kids love it! Chessycat-use primer, it works!

  • chessycat 17 Feb, 2010

    Has anyone painted over this to restore the surface to the original latex? I would like to try it in a rental apartment, but need to be sure that I can repaint the wall before I leave.

  • boonedesigns 23 Feb, 2009

    I am so excited about the recipe for custom chalk board paint. I paint murals professionally and Black chalkboards are sometime to dark for the walls. I can't wait to try this one.

  • foal 18 Feb, 2009

    I live in London and I am trying to do this - Is unsanded tile grout hard to find? I went to our local hardware store and they had all the popular grout that is waterproof, adhesive etc........ is this not what I should be looking for?

  • acdoleys 11 Jan, 2009

    I just did this and it turned out fine. I used the small acrylic paints. I did a ratio of 4 tsp paint to 1/2 tsp grout (for painting smaller areas and using a variety of colors). Good deal:-)

  • MrsDiaz 4 Dec, 2008

    Found this recipe for a small batch of chalkboard paint using acrylic paint - have not tried it, but sounds like a good recipe, and would be inexpensive using the small acrylic paints from the craft shop:

    3 teaspoons acrylic paint [colour of choice]
    1 1/2 teaspoons glazing medium [water based]
    1/2 teaspoon powder tile grout [Not Sanded]
    Mix together - you've got paint!

  • beccy88 20 Nov, 2008

    does anyone know if it has to be latex paint or can it be acrylic paint?

  • Pamasaurus 17 Oct, 2008

    This formula is a lot less toxic than the brand name chalk paints. I did this on sheets of plywood and hung them at our festival for Freedom of Speech chalkings. I found that mixing the grout in water then adding it to the paint makes a huge difference as well as sifting the grout to smash the chunks. I used 2 gallons of paint and using the paint mixer on the drill also made the mixing easier.

  • lbuser 17 Oct, 2008

    You could primer it first with Kilz primer or sand the white board. Both will work. I used the Kilz on a 20 inch ceramic tile that I wanted to paint. If you try this, wait until the primer dries really well or it will peel off. You could sand then prime the white board, if you are concerned. Chalk board paint will paint on just about any painted surface pretty easily. Thanks for the tip about mixing grout and paint, I want to give this a try.

  • Michelle_C 17 Oct, 2008

    I have also tried this formula and it did not work so well for me, so I googled chalk paint and came up with a company called Tilano ( that sells premade colored chalkboard paint. They have 10 different colors and it works awesome. I painted my different shapes in my kids' rooms so they can doodle and draw anything they like.

  • Fany 9 Aug, 2008

    Hi, I am trying this recipe for the first time. I am painting a large dry erase board at work. Does anyone know if I should primer first? If I should, what type of primer can I use?
    Thanks for the help!

  • clairdouglass 23 Jul, 2008

    I had some difficulty with the formula of 2 TABLESPOONS grout to 1 C paint. Wondering if maybe they meant TEASPOONS? When using the formula, mine made a thick, unsreadable sludge about the consistancy of concrete. I was able to thin it down - first with more paint, and finally with water - until it was workable. It did not go on as easily as regular chalkboard paint, though. More difficult than the information would make it seem.

  • flipperclean 28 Feb, 2008

    Painted my daughters bedroom with a 14 inch blackboard stirp near the top of the wall on three sides of her room so they can write their favorite sayings as they are learning languages.

  • flipperclean 28 Feb, 2008

    For my daughters dorm, I purchased an large cabinet door from a closet unit for $5.00. Painted it with magnetic paint first and then chalk paint on top. Both sides, So she can use it anywhere in her room. We had to bungee cord it to the side of the closet and as you open the door to her room, everyone leaves their messages, phone numbers, schedules, etc.

  • schultz 21 Feb, 2008

    I used this unbelievably smart tip on the interior door of my pantry. Now anytime I run out of an item, I immediately write it on the door and it doesn't get left out of next week's grocery list. I also write down the pre-planned dinner combinations for the week and my husband and children can vote on what they want for dinner each night.