Warning!! There is a lot of text below but that's because I wanted to share with you all of the mistakes I made and the lessons I learned while making this framed chalkboard.
This project was supposed to be an easy and fun distraction from the awfulness of unpacking. I did a little bit of research ahead of time by watching and reading some tutorials on YouTube and blogs. So one afternoon, when I just couldn't look at the box cutter and bubble wrap anymore, I headed to the local Michael's and picked up (what I thought) would be the necessary tools -- a bottle of multi-surface chalkboard paint, some sponge brushes, a pack of steel wool, colored and white chalk, and a large frame on major clearance ($10!).
When I got home, I disassembled the frame and thoroughly cleaned the glass. I then started to paint on the first layer of chalkboard paint. It went on streaky but I was unperturbed...it would even out right? Once the first layer was completely dry (~1 hr), I started painting on the second layer and that is when the problems began! As I was painting on my second coat, the sponge brush started scraping off the first layer resulting in clumpy lumpy chalkboard paint that was just sliding around on the glass. Not good...not good at all. Fortunately, once both layers were dry, I was able to just peel off the paint and I had pristine glass again. I then hit the web and did more research and I tried everything. I tried lightly sanding the glass first, painting each layer in opposite directions...nothing came out right. I decided that the culprit was the sponge brush and headed to the hardware store for a small paint roller. When I got there, I found something better. During my research, I read that the brush-on (or roll-on) Rust-Oleum chalkboard paint was the best. I didn't find that but I found Rust-Oleum chalkboard spraypaint! I also picked up a spraypaint primer (I wasn't leaving anything to chance).
The tools I used for my first attempt
The paint applied with a sponge brush dried with lines and cracks in it. This wasn't that obvious at first but became really apparent after I primed the chalkboard with some chalk (see below).
This contrasted greatly with the spraypaint chalkboard, which resulted in a nice even and smooth surface (this is obvious in the post-priming picture below).
Yay for Rust-Oleum!
DIY Framed Chalkboard
A picture frame with glass
Medium to fine grit sandpaper or a sanding block
All-surface primer spraypaint
Plenty of chalk (you definitely need white but should also get some fun colors too!)
Disassemble the frame. Gently sand the glass with your sandpaper or sanding block. Wipe down the glass, making sure it is clean and dry before you start. Lay the glass on a flat surface. Spray an even coat of all-surface primer over the glass using long sweeping strokes. Allow primer to dry completely before repeating with the chalkboard paint. Apply at least 2 layers of the chalkboard paint.
Once the paint is dry, "prime" the board by rubbing a piece of white chalk (on its side) over the entire chalkboard. Gently wipe off with a damp cloth.
Reassemble your picture frame and hang!
We hung it in our dining area over our buffet/beverage station. I'm thinking it'll be fun to write cocktail menus when we have guests over. For now, I'm using it to make a never-ending to-do list for Mr. J!