How To Prime A Chalkboard | i should be mopping the floor
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How To Prime A Chalkboard

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This summer, I had this wild and crazy idea to paint one of the walls in my office with chalkboard paint. Top to bottom, y'all. It was an all or nothing kind of thing. With a chalkboard this huge, I had to do some serious priming to get it conditioned for regular use. I thought I'd document those steps. And today, I'm sharing how to prime a know, for when you go all kinds of crazy and paint an entire wall that way, too. 

See how to prime a chalkboard for your own home or office below.
How To Prime A Chalkboard
I should start by saying that priming a chalkboard wall of this size is a bit of an undertaking. But, this tutorial works on a chalkboard of any well as one you might purchase in the store that hasn't been used, yet. You need to prime a chalkboard just like you need to season a new cast iron pan: to prepare it for years of use without messing it up on the first go round. See my complete tutorial for How to Prime a Chalkboard below.

Our Chalkboard Wall

As I mentioned, priming a chalkboard is essential. The main reason? Ghost images are a real thing. If you did not properly prime your board before its first initial use, the first thing drawn or written on your board would *pretty much* stay with your board for the long an erased ghost image that could never really be completely erased. Priming creates that first layer of chalk that deposits into all the minuscule nooks and crannies of your board (chalkboards and walls of chalkboard paint are actually porous). So this step can't be skipped, as painfully monotonous as it is.

DIY Chalkboard Wall
A little background before we start priming:
Above is what the east wall of my office now looks like. However, this particular story (read: nightmare), begins last March.

From Wallpaper to Chalkboard
I obviously didn't set up a tripod for this before It was taken from my "peeling corner" while I worked. The nightmare began in March when I was all "hey, let's take the wallpaper down...that'll be fun!" Actually, let me back up. The nightmare began eight years ago when I was all "hey, let's put wallpaper up, that'll be fun!" 

Please spare me the "if wallpaper is applied correctly, removing it is cake" talk. I get it. I messed this up royally. My mom has already reiterated that to me. Multiple times. It's like the mistake that keeps on giving. Sigh. 

So, I put up this wallpaper (incorrectly...apparently). And then the take down process turned into a months-long ordeal that was almost the end of me. This photo was taken about month three of take down. It was shortly after this that my husband looked at me and said, "we are done." He picked up the phone and hired a guy. It was the best decision. EVER.

While at first, I was a bit wounded...I mean I've done the whole DIY thing for some time now, y'all. But, we were gutted. I mean. Really.

To paint you a picture of just how badly I messed this up, I not only had to replace those mattresses, I had to re-carpet the carpeted areas of our home...because of the sheer magnitude of drywall dust...everywhere. Drywall dust that I created by taking my ding dang electric sander to the unforgiving wallpaper. That was maybe my worst move, yet. 

It quickly spiraled into the summer from heehaw. And then Thomas came into our life and made it all better. Well, Thomas, his painting crew, and the carpet people. And by came into our life, I mean we forked over bookoos of moolah to hire people to clean up our mistakes. And by our, I mean my. Sigh.

But now...we're back in biz-nass. Since Thomas had to do such extensive work in this room, I had time to dream up such crazy things as one wall becoming entirely chalkboard. To do this, he had to float it smoother than the other walls...and skip texture of any kind. When I floated (pun intended) this idea by him, he made it pretty clear that he had never done that, but was willing to...insert deer in the headlights, "you want to do what?!?" kind of look. 

So a few well-skimmed coats of mud, two coats of black primer and two coats of black chalkboard paint later...the wall was ready!

How to Prime a Chalkboard 

Before beginning your priming, pray for a little patience (that is, if your chalkboard is this massive). If you have a smaller chalkboard surface, you're golden.  

Priming a chalkboard can also be a saving grace if you've messed up a chalkboard. If you've ever used chalkboard markers that are of less-than-stellar quality, you probably have a ghost image from them. You can re-prime your chalkboard to combat that image (although, those are tough to make truly go away completely). I've used the green side of a heavy duty Scotch-Brite sponge to scrub the image the best I can. Once it's dry, I re-prime the entire thing with the method I'm sharing below. This is the only method I've used with success on getting rid of those pesky stains. Chalk markers aren't my favorite. I'd just avoid them, if you can.
Chalkboard Seasoning

Supplies for Priming a Chalkboard

  • 1 box of white chalk (the old-fashioned kind, don't buy the dustless kind, it's too soft for this)
  • Paper towels (I used over a roll, but again, my chalkboard wall is massive)

Prepping a Chalkboard

Priming Your Chalkboard

It's definitely not a difficult job. But, depending upon the size of your board, it can be long and monotonous. 

  • Using the side of your chalk, you will mark over your entire board (as pictured above).
  • It's easier to use halved pieces of the chalk. And after you've done a few strokes to flatten out the side of your chalk, it gets even easier.
  • Just keep marking with the side of the chalk (don't use the end of your chalk, only the side for priming). Eventually, the chalk piece falls apart on you and you'll just grab another one.
Primed Chalkboard
You're probably too busy trying to figure out what in the world is happening here with my son and dog in the doorway...but, LOOK! I pattern-vacuumed just for you. My mom would be so proud. 

Seriously though, the above is the result of the first step of priming: a chalkboard covered with side swipes of chalk. Lots of them.

Dry Erasing a Chalkboard

So after one monotonous process comes yet another. It's all fun and games around here. 
  • Take a DRY paper towel (it will actually be numerous paper towels), and dry erase the entire board. 
  • You're actually not erasing, but rather pushing that layer of chalk into the pores even further. 
  • Once one paper towel is filled with chalk, grab a fresh one. To me, folding the paper towel works the best. Then I just refold and use every available side. 
How to Prime Chalkboards
  • After dry erasing the entire board, you'll wet erase it, as well. 
  • To wet erase, use two sheets of paper towels (again I fold mine to make them easier to hold), and get them wet (not soaked, but more than damp). Start wiping your now-dry erased chalkboard.
  • Again, go over the entire chalkboard.
  • I also like to go numerous directions to make the board look older and well-loved (you can see what I mean in the image below). 

Homemade Chalkboard
This process does not achieve absolute perfection...but a chalkboard is always a bit messy and haphazard. This process just eliminates those glaring ghost images that can happen if your chalkboard isn't properly primed.

Looking for More Chalkboard Fun?

I love chalk-anything...from printable chalk designs to hand-lettering on chalkboards. I have lots of tutorials and freebies for you listed below (from both my site here and some of my blogger friends): 

Chalkboard Care

What do you think? Would you ever have a floor-to-ceiling chalkboard?


  1. These are such great tips. I have been wanting to make a chalkboard wall in the playroom.

    Michelle F.

    1. Do it! You will be so glad you did! Thanks for stopping by, Michelle!

  2. It looks fantastic! My hand was cramping just thinking of covering the wall!!

    p.s. The action shot almost upstaged the big reveal ;)

  3. You are the coolest mom ever. I want a chalkboard wall!

  4. I really like how you made it look "well loved" as you said. I think it has a lot of character that way!

    1. Thank you, Liz! I not only prefer the look--but it's so much more realistic to keep up this way!

  5. I love that wall! I really want a chalkboard wall!

    1. Thank you, Debra! You should totally do one! I know that sweet girl of yours would have a ball putting it to good use!

  6. It looks beautiful. We moved into a house years ago where the previous owners painted OVER wallpaper, not once but multiple every bedroom. Thankfully we only sold that house after 2 years. It was a nightmare. You do beautiful work!

    1. Oh my word! After this "experience" ....woof. I just cannot even imagine!! Thank you bunches for stopping by!

  7. Looks awesome! I can only imagine what you went through, but at least when you get tired of this wall, it will be easy to texture and paint!

    1. Thank you, Jamie! Yes!! We thought things through (okay...maybe our contractor helped too, ha!) once we decided to go forward with the chalk. It was a valuable learning experience, ha!

  8. I would love to have something like this in my home, it looks like it would be nice once it's done.

  9. I didn't properly prime a chalkboard I made and was so sad to see it stained. Need to reprint it & follow your tips.

    1. So many people don't know about priming!! It's the most important step--Even the little chalkboards you bring home from the store have to be prime in order to prevent staining! You aren't alone, friend! Thank you bunches for stopping by!

  10. I've never heard this before, looks really amazing

    1. Thank you, Nicole! It's a statement piece for the home now--that's for sure! ;)

  11. Looks great you deserve a lovely chalk board after the mess you had before. I want one .. on a sliver of a wall but my kids are giving me a dirty look.

    1. Thank you, Mary! It was a lot to work through...but we overcame, lol!!

  12. My brother in law put one up in the kiddos' playroom. They have a whole chalk board wall now in there, and it's really cool looking!

  13. this is tempting me....I need to do this in our homeschooling area, right?!

  14. Kristi thanks for the tip, will try for sure! I would love you share this with us at the party


  15. I'm repainting a sidewalk chalkboard for my business. I wish I would have started earlier so I could use it this weekend, but I want to do it right this time. Priming is a step I missed the first time around. It will just have to have the "weathered look" for one more weekend. Thanks for the tip.

  16. Can I ask what kind of chalkboard paint you used?

  17. Hi, this post is so helpful! I came across it in the middle of a chalkboard project and have shared it on my blog: