The 'Featured Finishes' Series: Personalized Chalkboards - South Lake Tahoe faux finish studio Skip to main content

Chalkboards used to be in every school classroom but overtime were slowly replaced by white erase boards and technology. In recent years though, chalkboards have made an artistic resurgence in small businesses & homes for menu boards & wall art, To-Do lists and even children’s room decor. We love chalkboards at nluv Studio! For us though, it’s all about the detail in the frame and designs imprinted on the piece itself. It’s time to take it up another notch and create personalized chalkboards putting our heart & soul into every piece!

Let’s create… Personalized Chalkboards

Chalkboards can be fun and easy to make. But, it shouldn’t be about painting a board black and hanging it on the wall. Creating personalized chalkboards is an opportunity to design a special art piece with delicate details that not only make it functional for writing but also aesthetically beautiful as wall art!

The gift of personalized chalkboards

Personalized chalkboards make great gifts. Adults, kids, home or business, a unique one-of-a-kind chalkboard made just for someone holds an emotional tie. When you create or give a personalized gift, the thought and effort put into the idea holds just as much weight as the piece itself. At nluv Studio, I don’t like to make anything twice. Each piece has its own heart & soul and deserves to be the only one. With unlimited options for faux finishes, stencils, mediums and colors, there is no reason to create anything twice. And, if you are truly working with complex finishes, you could never duplicate it anyway! With this mantra for every piece we create and sell, our customers know they have something special that no else has.

A special lady

personalized chalkboards my mom and me brunch

A special brunch date with my Mom

It’s time to celebrate my Mom’s birthday! What better gift than a personalized creation made by her daughter? No matter how old you are, your mom always loves heart-felt gifts. I envisioned a special chalkboard incorporating things she loves, like birds and lively colors, surrounded by a mountain-mantra from living in Lake Tahoe. I like to start out with a rough idea but the process always takes a turn somewhere… leading me to a better outcome than I originally imagined! Over three weeks, my mom’s chalkboard took shape until it finally blossomed and was complete.

A chalkboard’s creative journey

There’s nothing worse than building momentum on a project to find out you are missing a key ingredient. I sketched out the chalkboard design first and laid out all the tools & supplies needed. You may be shocked at how long the list gets! Anything I didn’t have, I made one quick trip to the store and was ready to start.

Tools & Supplies

  • 2’x2′ 1/4″ MDF board
  • Chalkboard paint
  • personalized chalkboards power tools wood cutting

    Power tools will make quick, easy cuts for the frame. Use whatever tools you have!

    Painters tape

  • Chalk (for conditioning)
  • Stencils
  • Craft paper
  • Spray paint
  • Wood for frame
  • Primer
  • Old World Finishing Paint™ (OWFP) custom colored with FauxColor™
  • FauxCreme®
  • Cheese cloth
  • Badger brush
  • Creme Activator™
  • Venetian Gem™
  • Metal multi tool scraper & metal spoon
  • Rag
  • personalized chalkboards supplies

    Start gathering all your tools & supplies and see what’s missing

    Olde World Venetian Wax™

  • Micaglow Powder™
  • Sand paper
  • Drill brush buffer
  • Plastic bag
  • Paint brushes, rollers & tray
  • Nail gun w/compressor & nails
  • Saw
  • Magnets
  • Drill/drill bits
  • Magnetic clip
  • Hooks
  • Construction adhesive or super glue
  • Japan scraper
  • Sponge

Step-by-step instructions

Day 1

  1. personalized chalkboards chalkboard paint roller

    Applying chalkboard paint with foam roller

    Tape backside edges of MDF board. This will keep any paint from splattering across the back and looking ugly! Clean edges are a must!

  2. Paint 2 coats of chalkboard paint on the MDF surface, leaving 4 hrs. between coats. Set aside & let cure for 3 days.
  3. Cut reclaimed 1 x 3 boards to size as a frame around the chalkboard. I wanted square rustic edges so cut 4 pieces:  2 – 27″ boards and 2 20″ boards. These dimensions will allow the frame to sit 2″ on the chalkboard and hang off ~1″ on the sides for wall mounting.
  4. Sand all wood edges and faces for a smooth feel. Distress the corners and edges so they do NOT perfectly line up.
  5. Paint the backs of the frame boards with primer for a clean, white look. Just 1 coat is needed. Let fully dry.
  6. personalized chalkboards frames old world finishing paint

    Base color for frame

    Mix up forest green custom colored OWFP. This will be used on the frame as the base color.

  7. Tape backside of frame edges (what you primed once dry) to keep the front side paint off the back and give you those clean lines. Remember, clean edges are a key touch!
  8. Paint 2 coats of green OWFP on all frame pieces, letting the paint dry between coats ~ about 2 hrs. Set aside.

Day 2

  1. Apply Creme Activator over the green frame boards. Let dry for 30 min before applying top color.
  2. Mix up cream custom colored OWFP. This is the frame top color.
  3. After Creme Activator has dried for 30 min., paint 2 coats of cream OWFP on all frame pieces, let paint dry between coats ~ about 2 hrs. Set aside.
  4. personalized chalkboards stencils taping off spray paint

    Cover anything you don’t want spray painted!

    Prepare the chalkboard for stenciling. Cover all surfaces you DON’T want spray painted using tape and craft paper. Leave no opening for spray paint to sneak in!

  5. Tape stencils as needed (if you are doing multiple step stenciling with different colors). I did 2 colors on each bird. Make sure you account for where the frame will go.
  6. Apply stencils to chalkboard with tape and light spray adhesive. Spray paint each stencil, CAREFUL not to contaminate any surface with the paint that I don’t want! Do NOT speed through the spraying process. Spray paint will sneak in the tiniest space and ruin your project if you don’t do your due diligence on prep and tape! Let paint dry.
  7. Repeat Steps 4 – 6 as needed until stencil art on chalkboard is finished. Remove all paper and tape. Set chalkboard aside.
  8. Once top coat of paint on frames is dry from Step 3, scrape with metal multi tool and spoon until the desired distressing/chipping is reached. Also use sand paper and a wet rag to complete the look. Wipe clean so no dust remains.
  9. Mix up a custom FauxCreme glaze using FauxColor and bronze Micaglow Powder.
  10. After min. 4 hrs. dry time for final cream paint coat (this is the coat you scraped), apply glaze to all frame boards with sponge brush. Blot with cheese cloth and finish with a Badger brush for a natural, smooth look. Set aside overnight.

Day 3

  1. personalized chalkboards seasoning chalkboard chalk

    Conditioning new chalkboards for better writing & erasing

    I condition my chalkboards. On Day 3, rub chalk all over the board including the stencil graphics and leave on the chalkboard till Day 7. Set aside.

  2. It’s time to stencil the frame boards. Align stencils on frame boards with tape and light adhesive. Apply Venetian Gem with japan scraper. Peel off stencil and clean.
  3. Repeat Step 2 as needed until all frame boards are complete. *DON’T RUSH. Let your product dry before you place the stencil back on the boards and potentially smudge your completed areas. Set aside overnight.

Day 4

  1. Apply wax on all frame boards and let sit for 60 min.
  2. personalized chalkboards supplies

    Get ready to shine your finish!

    After Step 1, use drill buffer brush first to remove most of the wax and begin the buffing process. Wipe all loose wax residue off.

  3. Take plastic bag and finish buffing the frame boards until smooth and shiny. No rough spots!
  4. Remove all tape from back of frame boards.
  5. In upper right corner frame board, use Forstner bit to drill hole in BACK of frame board to countersink magnetic discs. Drill down until magnetic disc is flush.
  6. Apply construction adhesive and drop in magnets. Make sure you insert the magnets in the right direction. Test out to make sure the magnetic clip that will sit on the front is attracted to the magnet and not repelled! If it is repelling it, the magnets in the back of the board are backwards.
  7. Measure out hooks for the bottom frame board and mount.

Day 7

  1. Take a clean sponge and wipe the chalkboard clean until all chalk dust and residue is removed. The chalkboard should get back to its original black color.
  2. personalized chalkboards stencils taping off spray paint marking

    Example of marking chalkboard for frame installation. Also helpful when stenciling.

    Remove all tape from the back of the chalkboard.

  3. Measure out the frame boards and mark on the front of the chalkboard where they will go. Use construction adhesive and attach the frame boards from the front ensuring they are perfectly placed. Let dry.
  4. As the final step, flip over the chalkboard and use the nail gun to permanently adhere the chalkboard to the frame. KNOW YOUR TOOLS! Make sure the nail length and PSI are correct so you don’t punch nails through the front of the frame OR they don’t sink far enough so they stick out. Flip it over and enjoy!

Congrats, you’re done!

Personalized chalkboards can be as simplistic or detailed as you want. Be creative and have fun with your own designs. Personalizing a gift like this will leave a lasting impression on the lucky one who receives it. Don’t be afraid to put a little heart & soul in your projects.

My Mom's custom birthday chalkboard


  • Linda Kimball says:

    Very interested in your small, personalized chalkboards. Sounds so fun. The person I’m interested in getting one for is into her 2 guys, husband and son, snowboarding and horses. Could you do something to incorporate her three main specialty?
    Not too big.
    Also I would like to have one made for the husband of the above lady. His top three main passions are his wife and 5 year old son, music, skiing and THE SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS! His main musical instrument is the sax although he plays many as he teaches music in school. He also plays professionally, in and around Reno.
    If you can do something for each of them I’d like to hear/see your ideas. Also will need a ballpark monetary figure and a time frame.
    Please contact:
    Linda Kimball
    Yep, it’s me from Carson City, although I live in Sparks now in an independent/assisted living place. It’s really nice and necessary as I’m rather limited in getting around much without a scooter or wheelchair now.
    Also, I’m a great grandmother, 2 times over and loving it! When I saw what you’re doing now I thought what a super idea. If all works out I’d love to have you do several more if there is enough time before Christmas.

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