How Does Chalkboard Paint Work?

How Does Chalkboard Paint Work?

It seemed like magic when we were little, but did you ever really ask yourself, “How does chalkboard paint work?” Well, maybe you thought it was the chalk, and not the board that was magical. I know I did because chalk also worked on the sidewalk, right? Well, if you haven't thought about it for a while and are intrigued, let me give you the low-down.

Before chalkboard paint, there was slate. Slate was used back in the 1800's as a teaching tool. In the beginning, individual students used hand held boards where their assignments were copied down for them by the teacher. Pieces of slate were used at this time, but over time, instructors began using larger boards at the front of the class. Paper was expensive at this time, so depending on the economic status of a given area, either small boards or paper were used by the students. Porcelain was also a popular material used to write on because of its durability.

Chalkboards have come a long way. These days, with the home improvement rage that has taken over cable television, we can confidently learn how to not only use chalkboard paint, but make it as well. The difference between chalkboard paint and your typical household paint is basically one ingredient. Chalkboard paint has a gritty consistency which is necessary in order for the chalk to adhere to it. This grit is made by combining latex paint with unsanded tile grout. “Unsanded” is the key word. This is important since the sanded version of grout is too fine and will give you a smoother surface, which you do not want in this case. Grout is made of a kind of mortar. The type that is used to make chalkboard paint is called Portland cement.

It is usually necessary to use two or three coats of paint to give your board a solid surface to work with. After the paint has dried, a fine grade sandpaper is used to smooth out the board or wall that has been transformed into a chalkboard. To prepare the surface, chalk is rubbed onto the whole board. This is then wiped off with a dry felt cloth. A damp cloth is then used to wipe off the excess chalk and then what you have is what is called a clean slate, so to speak.

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