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How to Make a Framed Chalkboard

Repurpose old picture frames by turning them into personalized message boards.

More in Decorating

Room decor

Courtesy of Susan Teare

Decorative blackboards and wall organizers can cost big bucks at popular retailers, but you can make them for just a few dollars. We found a pair of $10 picture frames at a secondhand store, bought a can of chalkboard paint for less than $5 and got the chalk for another $2. This project takes little time to make and is easy enough to have the kids help.

Tools and Materials

  • flathead screwdriver
  • picture frame with a sturdy backer board
  • chalkboard paint or chalkboard spray paint
  • primer
  • chalk
  • picture hanger and wire (if your frame doesn't have any)

Find a Frame or Two

Find a large picture frame with a sturdy piece of backer board. If your frame doesn't have a good backer board, get a thin piece of laminated plywood to use for your surface.

Silver frame

Remove Artwork

Use a flathead screwdriver to lift up the metal placement holders on the back of the frame. Take out the artwork and save the backer board.

Chalkboard construction

Prime and Paint the Message Board

Spray or brush a little primer onto the surface and let it dry. Then apply a coat of chalkboard paint. Let dry and add a second coat if needed. Follow manufacturer's instructions for drying times. If you are not changing the wording on your project, you may want to use black paint with white paint for lettering instead.

Lay Out Your Message

Create your message on paper — make sure you have enough room. Measure a rough starting point and ending point. Remember the edges will be under the frame.

Chalkboard design

Write It Out

Carefully start adding your words with the chalk (or white paint with brush). Use a T-square if needed to help keep your lines straight.

Chalkboard writing

Hang It Up

Clean both sides of the glass and then place the chalkboard back into the frame. If you're going to be changing your message frequently, you may want to leave off the glass. Carefully readjust the frame's metal fastener pieces with a flathead screwdriver.


Joanne Palmisano is the author of Salvage Secrets (W.W. Norton, September 2011). Visit her blog, also called Salvage Secrets.