Sunday, April 13, 2014

Outdoor Chalkboard tutorial...sort of

Have you seen the outdoor chalkboards on pinterest?? I love them! I am that mean mom that really cringes when the kids want to get out sidewalk chalk. It gets on feet and bottoms and stays on the driveway for a lifetime. Well, until it rains anyway. I decided our kids needed a chalkboard in the back yard and so far it has been a huge hit! Here is a basic outline of what we did:

Supplies you will need are
-a piece of plywood with a smooth finish (ours was 4x8 and cost $15)
-black EXTERIOR paint (We bought Valspar outdoor flat in kettle black $10/qt)
-unsanded grout (We found ours on clearance as a busted bag and paid $5 for a giant amount. You will only need about 1/2 cup and it will cost you less than $10)- I don't have a recipe I just googled and experimented
-1x4s for the frame (nicer molding is available but we are cheap and it cost us $4 total)
-colored EXTERIOR paint for the trim ($10 but you have a TON left)

We wanted our chalkboard to take up the width of the fence panels so the 4x8 was a perfect size for us! If you want to make yours smaller, its a simple cut. We mixed unsanded grout with our paint and then rolled it on (*** see the what we did wrong section to not make the same mistake here***) until the board was covered. A quart really is enough for 2 coats but we ended up buying 2 and doing 3 coats because I screwed up the first one.

While this is drying--which happens so fast--- you will want to cut your trim and paint it. Andy used a miter saw to make the angled cuts at 45 degrees. We used a fun bright blue (nautical something by valspar) because we plan to use the same color for the playhouse door in a few weeks and on our tire swing (tutorial to come soon!). We wanted it all to tie together.

Once all the paint is dry, Andy screwed the plywood section onto the fence posts themselves and then we attached the trim using other screws. Another option would be to use liquid nail to attach the trim and then hang the whole piece. He wanted to do it this way and it worked well for us. I plan to sew a pennant banner to hang on the chalkboard just to make it more fun but that will come later!

All in all, it was a cheap project that was quick to throw together and has been used SO much already. The kids are loving it!

What we did wrong------

First thing I screwed up was the way I didn't mix the grout in very well. This caused clumpiness and a weird finish that we had to sand down and paint over. On our second try, we mixed the grout in gradually and used the mixing attachment for Andy's drill (only $4 for this tool). It made such a difference! This made the finish smooth and the paint went so much further!

MEASURE, CHECK, MEASURE, MEASURE, CUT! As you can see in the pic of Rylie jumping rope, there was a mis-measure on one side and we had to buy a new board. Ultimately the project required 3 trips to lowes, that could've been avoided, but it is finished now and was worth the hassle.

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