Photo of wood in boxes spelling "DIY"

How to – Make a DIY Chalkboard from a Thrift Store Painting

Are you looking for an affordable and fun project to spruce up your dorm or apartment? Why not make a chalkboard that you can use over and over again? We’ve got the low-down on how to do it and how to decorate it!

We found an old painting at a thrift store for less than $10. This painting had a great frame as well, but was not in the best condition. We knew with a little TLC, it could be a great addition to any décor!

Necessary Supplies:

  • Old painting or picture frame fitted with plywood
  • Paint thinner
  • Foam paint brush or regular paint brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Painters tape
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Scrap paper/newspaper (if using)
  • Colored spray paint (if using)

Step 1: Find a Hidden Treasure! We found an old painting at a thrift store. You can also use a piece of art from your mom’s basement, an estate sale, whatever! Pay attention to the shape of the piece, but not necessarily the colors. Also, make sure it is pretty sturdy, so that as you write on it, it won’t give way. Alternatively, if you have a frame you like, go to a hardware store with the measurements and get a piece of plywood to fit inside.

Photo of an old framed painting

Step 2: Prep and Clean. This part is definitely necessary to ensure your chalkboard paint holds strong and will not chip. First, sand down the frame with some fine-grain sandpaper. Then, we used paint thinner to wipe down the painting to clear it of all dust and oils. Give it a bit of time to dry and move on to step 3!

Step 3: Paint the Frame. We taped off the rest of the painting with painters tape and spray painted the frame with an antique white. However, a bright color would also look awesome! Pick anything you like that matches your décor. You can skip this step if you like the color or finish of the frame.

Step 4: Time for the Chalkboard Paint! We used a brush on chalkboard paint, but you can buy it as a spray paint as well! We did two thin coats to make sure the chalkboard paint was not see-through in any way. You may need to do three. Be sure to let it dry in between coats. A foam paint brush is great for this step as it makes for easy cleanup – we just threw it away!

Photo of that framed photo with a repainted frame and chalkboard paint in the middle

Step 5: Hang and Make Beautiful Chalk Art! We love to change up our chalkboards depending on the season. You can use white chalk of course, but consider using colored chalk for a nice pop! Your chalkboard can also be used as a menu board, a roommate scheduler, a place to display your favorite inspirational quote – it’s really up to your tastes!

Framed chalkboard with writing on it

Framed chalkboard with writing on it

Check out our Pinterest board for some fun ideas!

Have you made a chalkboard? We’d love to see pics! Instagram us @TextbookRush or Tweet us @Textbookrush!

About the author

Alison Blankenship
Senior Marketing Manager
I graduated Cum Laude from The Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with degrees in Marketing and Communications. I’ve been working in the textbook industry for over 10 years, and my work has been featured by College Confidential, Mercy College of Health Sciences, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania Tribune, Montana Technological University, Oregon Live, and other organizations.

I’m an obsessive lover of dachshunds and a passionate reader of books. I’m an avid Pinner and poster, and I’m all over our Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and Pinterest.