DIY Chalkboard USA

I love this project.

It's easy. It's adorable. And it looks so good people will think you BOUGHT it and you'll be able to shrug and be like, "That thing?! Nah... I made that..." 

I thought of it on a whim because there was some empty space in my boys playroom. 

Oh... this playroom. It's so close... yet so far.......  I completed ONE WALL today!! 
And the Hallelujah chorus sang out people! 

But back to the cute chalkboard thingy you are here for -

One of the main ideas I had for this playroom was something like this from The House of Smiths:

I built some shelves that looked similar so now I had this giant 15 foot ledge that went along one whole wall in my playroom that needed to be filled!

Thinking I needed a big statement piece and since I had made some map bunting on another wall I figured I needed a map. 

I had already made a giant Wall Travel Map before but that was on the other side of the house and wasn't really "kid friendly" with the sharp pins sticking in it. 

First I had to determine what type of Map I'd want in the playroom. I didn't want a world map. I just wanted the good old United States. I wanted to make sure I got all of the states though and just googled, "USA map outline" and this baby popped up: 

I sized it smaller then the actual sign I was going to make. I was making a sign that was going to be 18"x 24". Since I wanted the kids to be able to write around the Map I sized the map to 15"x 21".

Saved it on my thumb drive and printed it out on 18x24 paper at Office Max. 

Then, I ran over to Home Depot for some wood. You know that you go to Home Depot for wood too much when your children get excited about it, 

"We're going to get some wood Daddy!" 

Yep. And I don't feel bad one bit. 

I figured out how big I wanted my sign the night before and made sure it would fit into my space with all my other crazy ideas. To get all my ideas down I always have to draw them out: 

I knew I wanted a pallet looking sign much like my God is Faithful sign. 
I used better wood since I didn't want this to be rustic and needed the Chalkboard Paint to be smooth so that the kids could color on it. 

I grabbed an 8" Pine board that was 3" wide. 
There are usually three or four types of wood at Home Depot:

1. Dont Use Wood: This is wood that is SPECIFICALLY for outside. It's used to make fences and other outsidey things... It's been chemically treated and it is NOT anything you want to hang in your house. Now, if you are making an outdoor sign, knock yourself out. I personally have never used it so I'm not sure how stain/paint/anything else will work on it. It might, I just haven't tested it yet. If it works for you let me know! 
2. Really Crappy Wood. This stuff is like $1 and if you have a sander and want something rustic it's awesome. It isn't always level so it isn't the perfect wood for hanging things on the wall. My God is Faithful sign was made with this wood and I haven't tried to hang it on a wall yet but when I do, I'll probably have some issues but it looks great standing up on something. Deal with problems when you actually have them I say...
2. Pretty Good Wood. This is Pine. It's got notches in it, is kind of soft and if you are staining something it's perfect. I make majority of my wood signs for my business with this wood. It's cheap, I can get four signs for under six bucks and it's beautiful. 
3. Awesome Wood. This is the stuff that is normally on it's own aisle. It's smooth, perfect and pricey. (In my cheap opinion since it isn't under $10) Yet, if I make shelves that I want to paint white or something that has to have a perfect smooth surface, this is the stuff I grab. It's great. 

For this project I could have used the Awesome Wood or the Pretty Good wood. I went with pretty good since I actually was making something for a friend with the same wood too. I just was CRAZY picky about my piece of wood. I made sure it wasn't bowed and the knots weren't too deep to cause painting problems.

I had the Awesome Orange apron peeps cut it down to my dimensions and brought it home.

When you have wood cut for you it's going to have rough edges. Those big powerful blades can make soft wood like pine fray a bit. Super easy Fix: just sand down all the edges till it's smooth.

You can use regular 200 Grit Sandpaper (Always use Fine Grit Sandpaper on everything. Only seriously special projects deserve the Medium or crazy stupid rough sand paper. Learn from my wisdom, I earned it the hard way...) or I have a cute little Mouse Electric Sander. Adore it.

I sanded all my wood really well since I was putting chalkboard paint on it. It had to be smooth and I actually rounded some of the edges with my sander on each piece to make it look softer. I knew which side I was going to be painting so this allowed me to make sure I put the right side together since all the edges were curved a tiny bit.

I brought all my pieces inside and laid them down on my kitchen island to assemble. I placed the front boards (the ones I would paint) face down and then used my thin board to nail all the boards together.
I didn't take a picture of this step but if you need more instruction I did the same thing with my
Brother and Sister Pottery Barn Knockoff Signs.

Now that I had my wood together I pulled out my chalkboard paint and painted on two thin coats.

While that dried I cut my map down a bit, turned it over and using a pencil shaded the lines of the Map.
I shade the back so that when I tape my map onto my board and trace over the front, the pencil lead already on the back will be pushed onto the surface of my board giving me an outline to paint later.

See? :)

When tracing always check from time to time to make sure your image is actually being transferred. Never remove your image until you are sure everything has been transferred. Trust me on this one.

Once it's done you will have a nice pencil outline ready for paint.

I used a white felt tipped paint pen from Michael's. They are on the little paints aisle. The brand was CraftSmart and I used the fine line pen.

This part was so fun. I kept texting my sister and mom update photos as the US began to appear before my eyes:

Look! Alaska!!

Ta Da!!

The White paint looks like chalk but it will always stay there no matter how many times my kiddos chalk all over it. 

Once you have your chalk board you are ready for the most important step with any chalkboard project:
Seasoning your chalkboard.

It's super easy.

Just take a piece of chalk, turn it on it's side and color the entire board:

Now I always assumed you were to take a WET cloth and clean it... No.
Don't do that.
Use a DRY CLOTH and just wipe all the chalk off.

And then your chalkboard is all ready!!!

Beautiful isn't it?! 

And YOU CAN DO THIS! Go ahead... make it and adore it. 

It's helping my playroom look good if I do say so myself. :) 

There is my completed Wall!! Aren't you proud? 
You shouldn't be... it took forever. 

Here are the Materials you'll need to make your own Chalkboad USA Map:

Materials Needed:
- USA Map outline (Printed out to the size of your sign)
- Wood planks ( I used 6 - 3" wide planks to make my sign)
- Chalkboard Paint & Foam brush
- Pencil
- Chalk
- CraftSmart Foam tipped Paint Pen

Thanks for stopping by!

God bless and Much Love,


This has been linked up at The Happy Housie, The DIY Dreamer, Not Just a Housewife, Domestically Speaking and Made to be a Momma

1 comment :

  1. It turned out great! I'm hosting a pillow cover giveaway that you should enter.