I’ll confess that I’m a bit of a chalkboard snob. The chalk, the eraser, the board — it all has to be just right. And don’t even get me started on keeping it clean! Over the years I have found some tricks to satisfying my obsessive chalkboard tendencies, and I’ll share them with you.
For colored chalk nothing beats the vibrant colors of Prang Ambrite. I love this chalk. It blends beautifully. The assorted pack comes with black (another must!). And it’s so soft it goes on the board incredibly smoothly. It’s like butta.
For white chalk I stumbled upon this great brand called Alpha. Now, it’s billed as low-dust and non-toxic but what gets me is how soft it is. It’s hard to find a white chalk that glides over the surface of the board, but this one does. It’s not some kind of frou-frou designer chalk, either. I found it online for 87 cents a box. But it really is good — our handwork teacher was constantly stealing it from my classroom. You have to watch out for those handwork teachers, you know.
The best eraser for a chalkboard, hands down, is a microfiber cloth. For a person like me who obsesses about residual dust, a microfiber cloth is the only way to go. I bought a big pack of them at Costco and gave them to the other teachers at our school for Christmas. If you don’t want to wait until the end of the day for a clean board, a microfiber cloth is golden!
Care and Maintenance
At the end of each day it was always the chore of two students to clean the boards. They’d get a bucket of water, a giant painting sponge and a dry cloth. The sponger would wipe it down and the dryer would follow with the cloth and wipe until it was completely dry. At the end of chore time the board would be perfectly, deliciously clean (once the board cleaners had gone through my rigorous training, that is.)
Over the summer, the teachers would take a look at the boards and decide if they needed to repaint. It happens that the teacher in the class ahead of me usually repainted the boards, so they were almost always in excellent shape by the time I got to them, so I don’t have a lot of experience painting chalkboards. I have painted a couple that I use at home, though, so I know a little bit about what doesn’t work. When it comes to painting a board, texture is key. The kind of texture that grabs onto the chalk dust cannot be attained by using spray paint. I used a roller with a low nap and wish that I’d use one with a little more texture. I also wish I’d made absolutely certain I was painting in a clean and dry area, with my hair pulled back. The single hair that lies under the paint and causes my chalk to bump drives me crazy! It’s also important to sand the board really well. I just used a piece of particle board with a primer painted over it, which works fine, but there is definitely an uneven texture to the wood that would have disappeared with a little sanding.
It is definitely worth putting in a little effort to making a board that you will be happy to draw on. Chalkboard drawing is a wonderfully forgiving artistic medium so take the time to make it as enjoyable as possible.