How to Make a Chalkboard From a Cabinet Door

by Jenny Nolan

Step-by-step instructions plus time-saving tips for turning an ordinary cabinet door into a chalkboard (w/o refinishing the frame). The same process in this guide can be used on a picture frame, too!


  • 1 Cabinet door
  • 1 Sanding sponge (med-fine to fine)
  • 1 Painter's tape
  • 1 Bonding Primer (Spray such as Zinsser CoverStain)
  • 1 Chalkboard Paint (spray such as Rustoleum)
  • 1 0000 Steel Wool Pad
  • 1 Scissors
  • 1 (optional) Bin pull to use as chalk cup
  • 2 (optional) Hooks
  • 2 (optional) Hanging hardware
  • 1 (optional) Drill and bits for installing hardware
  • 1 Tack Cloth
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Step 2

    Supplies: Have you purchased a kit from our cabinet shop? If so, you'll have your cabinet door, primer, chalkboard paint and sanding sponge from your kit! If not, head to your local hardware store!

    Step 3

    Supplies: You will also need scissors & painter's tape. Tack cloth & steel wool (0000) are helpful to have, but not a must.

    Step 4

    Supplies (optional): Want a chalk cup? Hooks for keys? Hangers on the back? In addition to the hardware, you will need a drill and bits (1/4" and 1/8" used for this hardware).

    Step 5

    Let's get started! First, sand the panel (with the grain). For unfinished wood, the goal is to sand away any irregularities. For finished wood, you're just roughing up the surface.

    Step 6

    Once sanded, the surface of the panel will be powdery and dull (finished wood). Wipe with your tack cloth to remove any dust. Dust left on the surface = a bumpy chalkboard.

    Step 7

    Tape your frame!

    Step 8

    Once you've taped the inside edge of the frame, tape around the outside so that no portion of the frame (except the back) is exposed. Smooth it down completely. Now you're ready to paint!

    Step 9

    Tip: Follow the instructions, especially regarding temperature, humidity and dry/recoat times. Wear a mask.

    Step 10

    Now you're ready to paint! For even coverage, paint the inside edges first, then the middle. I "walk a square" around the door as I paint can see what I mean in the next step (video).

    Step 11

    Prime (sorry for the mixup...I used Rustoleum Black Primer on this chalkboard rather than the CoverStain)

    Step 12

    Once dry, check the surface for bumps, bubbles (even bugs if you're painting outside!). Use the "0000" steel wool to smooth any irregularities, making sure to remove all dust when finished.

    Step 13

    You'll paint your chalkboard surface the same way - start with the inside edges. You'll be applying 3 coats, so no need to apply it heavy. Evenness is the key.

    Step 14

    Fill in the middle. Tip: leave frame flat while drying to keep the paint from running.

    Step 15

    Once dry, steel wool an rough spots, remove all dust and apply another coat. Repeat, for a total of 3 coats. Let dry completely between coats.

    Step 16

    Once dry, remove the tape from the outside first. Pull the innermost strips of tape upwards, towards the panel.

    Step 17

    If you are not painting the frame, the hard work is finished! Are you installing hardware? Read on! (If you are painting the frame, now is the time to tape off your chalkboard and paint the frame!)

    Step 18

    To install hardware: First, measure for your chalk holder. Tip: Placing painter's tape over the area you will drill will prevent the wood from splintering.

    Step 19

    Next, drill your holes! (The cup pull I used is recessed into the frame and requires a 1/4" bit. Most hardware only requires a hole 3/16" diameter.)

    Step 20

    Mark the holes for the hooks. Unless you are using more than 2 hooks, there is no need to measure - just eyeball it. Tip: Avoid drilling any holes at the "seams" of the frame as this will weaken it.

    Step 21

    Tip: #1 Predrill the holes for your hooks. #2 If you have an adjustable speed drill, kick it back to a lower setting. These will prevent the wood from splitting and screws from breaking.

    Step 22

    Using a bit just smaller than the diameter of the screw, predrill your holes for the hooks, then screw them onto the frame. Install desired hanging hardware (sawtooth hangers are not recommended).

    Step 23

    Ta da! You're finished! Wait 24 hours or so before writing on your chalkboard.

    Step 24

    Thanks for looking! For more cabinet door crafts, follow me on Pinterest at If you purchased your kit from our cabinet shop, leave us a message on the next page! :)