The idea of chalk dust all over the house wasn't enough to deter me from getting the kid some chalkboardy furniture. Time was when Offi was about the only chalkboard table in the game. But in the last little while, there've been great-looking chalkboard-surfaced designs turning up from companies like ducduc [who started putting chalkboard on tables, wardrobes, dressers and even dining tables], Argington [whose Fundy play table comes in chalktop or dry erase] and of course, Eric Pfeiffer's molded ply Chalker Table.
My only problem was that none seemed quite as awesome as the first chalkboard table I'd ever seen, an awesome, Parsons Table-style by Droog designer Djoke de Jong, which was in MoMA's influential Dutch Design exhibition in 1996. Coincidentally, the minimalist geometry looks a lot like Ikea's $12 side table, the Lack. Nothing against all my furniture-making buddies, I thought, but why not just paint a Lack table all over with chalkboard paint like they sell at Yoyamart?
So a few months back, I went to buy a can of magnetic chalkboard paint at Yoyamart. They were out, but they fronted me a dented can for the project. I bought a Lack table to test it on for just $7 [navy blue was on sale somewhere]. The instructions on the can pertain mainly to walls, but were pretty straightforward. Though the paint is supposed to be self-leveling, it did recommend sanding to get a smooth, slate-y writing surface.
I took photos of the project, which I'll upload this evening. One thick coat on a Lack table took about 1/3 of the can. I can tell you the result now, though: total freakin' disaster. The Lack's colored surface is plastic, not lacquer or MDF, so the paint didn't take at all. When I started sanding the next day, paint started coming off in giant streaks of nanodust.
There's also a birch veneer Lack, which might take paint better, or it may require a layer of primer. Since it's the shape that's really key [for me, anyway], I'd like to crack the Lack code.
If you're not as obsessive, though, but you're nearly as cheap, you could start with a different table. Last fall, Apartment Therapy posted about transforming a slightly Offi-like, round wooden table from Ikea called the Poang [yeah, me either] with a can of chalkboard paint. If anyone has any success stories or other examples, please chime in.
DIY Kid's Chalkboard Table [apartmenttherapy.com via the awesome blog, Ikea Hacker]
Related: oh yeah, there is this sweet Danish chalkboard table from Collect Furniture