January 21, 2007

DIY Chalkboard Table?

droog_chalkboard_table.jpegThe 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


i can ask my father in law, who painted both the closet door, and a toy chest (!) in the kids' room with chalkboard paint. whatdoiknow, but i bet primer is your key.

I did my son's bookshelf in chalkboard paint two years ago and I can tell you; primer IS the key. I tried a test run on some pine sitting in the garage and I just didn't like the way it ended up. I took a shot at primer and was happier (not ecstatic, but that could be a craftmanship issue). In any case, the bookshelf has held up for the last couple of years and doesn't seem to have had any problems. But I wouldn't try it on the plastic again if I were you... get the birch.

Latest issue of Martha Stewart "Living" gives recipe for home-made chalkboard paint formula to add to paint of your (color) choice). Who knows how well it works? Oh Martha.

I agree with the rest, primer has got to be the missing link.

I purchased the SVALA (http://tinyurl.com/kc7h9) unfinished table and chairs set from IKEA ($40) and a can of Krylon Blackboard paint ($8) from the craft store. Before assembling the table, I taped off the edges and sprayed the top surface. It probably took 8-10 coats with a couple of rounds of sanding. I put the tabletop on a large piece of cardboard on the porch for a couple of days. Every time I walked by I either sprayed it or sanded it.

The only thing that annoys me is when I was putting the tabletop on the base I overtightened one of the screws and it went all the way through the top surface. It was remedied with a small file, some sandpaper and a couple of sprays of paint. (I can still see it, though my sons don't notice.)


being a bit of an expert at the chalkboard paint (and the magnetic paint, my personal favorite!), i can tell you two things: PRIMER is a MUST, and the chalkboard paint has to be regular paint, not the aerosol spray kind. With these 2 things, you can turn absolutely ANYTHING into a chalkboard. (I have a 4 foot by 6 foot magnetic chalkboard in my kitchen, homemade)

if you really want to use the plastic lack table use krylon's fusion spraypaint as a primer (its meant to stick to plastic and it works) also, the chalkboard paint really needs to not be th spray kind and sanding between coats is key, as are several coats.

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