How to DIY a fancy chalkboard frame

Guest post by Ang Armstrong

For an eco/budget friendly alternative to programs we did a chalkboard that listed all the members of the wedding party, and afterwards we're using it as a message center at the house. It was a great multi-step tutorial that is a fantastic addition to our abode as a married duo!

The uses for this are vast… and it's a ton of fun to see a thrift store piece of junk transformed into a usable, customizable tool at the wedding, and then in your home!


  • Fugly mirror from Craigslist: $5 — (For best results, just type in “Mirror” in the “For Sale” section and put your maximum price. This way you'll get listings in the wrong category as well as those in the free section. Repeat with “Frame” and “Window” for different looks)
  • Hammered Copper Spraypaint: $4
  • Rustoleum Tintable Chalkboard Paint: $12
  • Self Etching Primer (Spray Paint): $4
  • Sand Paper: $3 — (I used the rough stuff but it doesn't really matter, it's just to scratch up the steel so the primer will stick)
  • Sponge Brush: Ridonculously cheap, and if you're going to do a lot of DIY you should buy in bulk.
  • Sheet of steel: Free — (I took the cardboard backing from the mirror to the prototype shop my dad works for and they cut it from scraps. Most metal shops can do this for you pretty cheaply, $5-10 at the most)
  • Acrylic paint and some Polyurethane — (Note: I'm stupid and should have gotten acrylic glaze to get the effect I wanted, so there are a LOT of mistakes on this. USE THE ACRYLIC GLAZE!)

Step 1:

Take the mirror out of the frame. Do with it what you will. Save the backing for your completed chalkboard.


Step 2:

Spray paint the frame with the copper spray paint, doing a couple of coats. Make sure you get it from ALL angles, otherwise you'll get an “airbrushed on the beach” look on the edges. Give it plenty of time to dry between coats. I did about three coats over two days time.


Step 3:

Pour some acrylic glaze in a paper cup, and squeeze a few drops of your paint into it and mix. Add paint til you get the look you want to achieve. (I used half a bottle of burnt sienna because when you use the poly it sinks to the bottom and doesn't mix well. Again USE THE ACRYLIC GLAZE! Dip a painter's sponge or foam paintbrush into it, and apply liberally, using a rag to wipe off excess paint. You can either use it like a regular brush, or dab it on. I really smushed the paint into the nooks and crannies to show off the texture and flung a few flecks around. Yay! The frame is done!

Step 4:

Then we get to the chalkboard part. Use some heavy duty sandpaper to scratch up the surface so the paint will stick. I really made sure to wear down the corners and edges to make me less likely to slice my hand/leg off.

Close-up of board texture
Close-up of board texture

Step 5:

Then, paint two layers of the spray primer. After that primer dries and is set, apply two layers of chalkboard paint. The layers of chalkboard paint would need ample time to dry.

Step 6:

After it is completely done and dry, grab a piece of chalk and rub it down. Cover the whole board in chalk. This preps the surface. (If you don't do this, after you erase, the chalk dust from what you wrote will be stuck there FOREVERZ. Like when you write on a window with your finger, and when you breathe on it you can see it) After you do the chalk rub, use a damp cloth to clean it off. DON'T use a paper towel because little pieces will come off and you'll have to wipe it down about eleventy-billion times and you'll still be picking chunks off. I would think a microfiber cloth would work best. Like a ShamWOW!

Bada-boom and you're done! A beautiful, recycled, DIY-ed piece of awesomeness.


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Comments on How to DIY a fancy chalkboard frame

  1. I love this idea! I looked up the chalkboard spray paint and it says it can be used on glass, so I'm wondering if I could simplify by just taping up the frame and spraying directly onto the mirror itself… anyone know if this would work?! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  2. I don't see any reason why not. I used the metal because I wanted it to be magnetic, but if you're just using it for a chalkboard it should be fine. Make sure to check and see if that particular paint requires a primer (Some do and some don't). Also, make sure the mirror is a modern one. Antique mirrors are too thin, and can break with constant use. To find out, touch the mirror with a coin. If the coin seems to touch it's reflection, it's an antique mirror, if there's a gap, it's a modern mirror and is thick enough to be used.

    Good luck!

  3. I made one by spraying directly on the mirror and it worked great. I liked the frame as it was ( I bought a new "full length" mirror) and I just taped it off and sprayed the chalkboard spraypaint directly on the mirror. You should use several coats so the chalk doesn't scratch through. I did not use any primer under it. Then I chalked the surface and wiped it down. It has worked fine for a couple of years now for posting messages and dinner party menus. I mounted bathroom soap holders on either side to hold chalk and an eraser, though I found that a wet paper towel works best with the least mess for cleanup.

  4. I am definitely using this for my wedding in place of a menu and programs! It's such a waste to print out those things for guests who are just going to look at them once and throw them away. Even if you print them out on recycled paper, it's still a waste! I love DIY eco-friendly projects such as this one! I'm all about the eco-friendly lifestyle and I hound my family and friends to follow suit. Even my wedding is almost completely eco-friendly (there were some things that couldn't be avoided, like the lighting, since it will be an evening wedding, and the historic property doesn't use the eco light bulbs). I plan on using 2 chalkboards like I said, and having my cousin write out the menu items and program details because she has really pretty handwriting; she's also my bridesmaid and I'm putting her to work haha! Is there any way to seal the writing on the chalkboard so that the little kiddies won't have the desire to erase anything? Maybe polyurethane?

  5. My mom does a lot of work with pastels, which is basically the same thing as chalk, and she always used Aquanet Hairspray to set her artwork. I haven't tried it, but assume it'd work the same 🙂

  6. I love this idea. I think I’m going to find a picture frame instead of a mirror. I want a small one that I can place on a table top. I love the picture you posted with this too. I think a guest book is just another thing to sit in the back of the closet but I really want to get my guest’s wishes and comments. I scrapbook and think it would be really cool to do the whole tags hanging on the tree idea so I scrap all the comments that would traditionally go in a guest book after the wedding. I love this.

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