grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Make a Chalkboard Fridge

Slideshow of pictures at the end of the post.

When we moved into our house the stove the previous owners left was rusted with hole in the side of it and there was no dishwasher at all.  We bought a new stove and dishwasher but the fridge was clean and in good working order so we decided to keep it until it broke.  We figured we might get another year of service from it.  Here we are nearly 7 years later and the big white monster is still going strong.  Since it sits immediately next to the stove, the fact that it doesn't match the stainless steel is the first thing you notice when you enter the kitchen.  I think it drives my mother-in-law crazy. She keeps threatening to buy us a one.

As I was planning my minor kitchen update I found this great idea to turn the fridge into a chalkboard on one of my favorite websites the kitchn.  Since I used a fairly different (and easier!) process for my fridge, I thought I'd explain how I did it here, in case any of you want to try it.

Our chalkboard fridge is extremely practical because it gives us a place to write notes and it makes the fridge match the other appliances a little better.  My mother-in-law approves!


  1. Determine the type of material your fridge is made from.  Mine, like most, is some type of metal but the front is covered with a layer of vinyl that is kind of textured.  
  2. Go to your local paint store and ask a professional how you should treat the front of the fridge to prepare it for chalkboard paint.  I would recommend going to an independent paint store over a big box store.  I've found the advice I get there a lot more reliable.  Although the instructions I found at the kitchn recommended I sand off the front of the fridge, my paint store guy sais that would be extremely messy and could take a very long time to finish.  He recommended a primer that can be applied right over the vinyl front of the fridge.  
  3. Purchase chalkboard paint and primer.  I bought plain black because I wanted the fridge to match my other appliances but you can also get school house green and apparently some big box stores carry up to 14 colors.  Even pink!
  4. Remove all handles from fridge. Note: I did not replace my handles after my fridge was finished because, well, the handles are white and I think that would look stupid. The fridge looks much better with no handles at all and we have not found it difficult to open the fridge using the corners.
  5. Cover the floor around the fridge and any other surfaces vulnerable to paint splatter.
  6. Apply primer front of fridge per the instructions on the primer can or per your paint professional's recommendations.  I believe I used 2 coats of primer.  I did not treat the sides or top of the fridge at all and I'm happy with the way it turned out.   
  7. Paint front of fridge using chalkboard paint (mixed well) per the instructions on the paint can or per your professional's recommendations.  I painted 3 coats allowing each to completely dry in between.
  8. Allow chalkboard paint to set for a minimum of 3 days prior to writing on it.  I followed the instructions on my paint can which recommended 3 days but my paint scratched off in one area the first time I wrote on it.  I really feel it is better to allow the paint to set for up to 2 weeks to prevent damage because patching was no fun.  By the time you finish you will have multiple layers of primer and paint and it takes longer than you'd think to completely dry and set.
  9. Season the chalkboard fridge by covering the entire surface with chalk then erasing it.  Turn a long piece of chalk on its long side to speed up the process.  This step is especially important if your fridge is textured like mine.  It allows chalk particles to fill the crevices of the surfaces.  If you skip this part, the first thing you write will not be able to be completely erased.    
  10. Write, draw, have fun!  A chalkboard fridge is a great place to planting dates, grocery lists, recipes, menus and track your vegetable harvest.

A note about chalk dust and chalkboard markers.  I read a lot about the potential of chalkboard dust in the kitchen but it has not been a problem for me at all.  I was so worried about it that I considered using chalkboard markers instead of real chalk until I learned that these markers are not really meant to be used on actual chalkboard paint.  I spoke to the company and the suggested just using the chalkboard markers to write directly on my white fridge.  The reason they won't work on actual chalkboard paint is that a cleaner like windex is required to wipe these marks off and these cleaners cannot be used with proper chalkboard paint.

If anybody has done this I'd love to hear how your project went. And if you decide to give it a try, please stop back by to let us know how it went.   


  1. What a neat idea! Not sure my husband would go for it, but I might have to keep this in the idea file for the future.

  2. Xan, Liz, tracy - thanks! We are loving it so far.