DIY Ombre chalkboard

DIY Ombré Chalkboard

A few months ago I bought some clear chalkboard paint from the craft store and have been totally itching to use it in a project. I happened to have some scrap wood laying around this week and thought, since I’m CONSTANTLY making lists for myself and blowing through pads of paper like crazy, why not make a reusable chalkboard list thing of sorts? Way better for the environment, and MUCH prettier than a legal pad. You could totally also stick this to your fridge to use as a grocery list. Just snap a pic of it with your phone before you head to the store and you’re good to go!


1/8″ x 4″ balsa or basswood plank


400 grit sandpaper

Utility knife

Acrylic paint in 2 complementary colors (one lighter and one darker for the ombre)

Clear chalkboard paint


3/4″ wide masking tape

Magnets (opt.)

Hot glue gun

1/4″ wide copper foil tape (opt.)


From one end, measure to 9″ on your wood plank and mark that spot to indicate where to cut the wood. Be sure this line is straight!

Now, use your ruler as a straight edge and score the wood along that line with your utility knife. Be careful here, and don’t try and go too quickly. You’re not going to cut all the way through in one go anyway so just take your time. Keep scoring until you’re mostly through, and then flip the plank over and score from the opposite side to break the piece off. Or, you know, use a saw if you have one.

Spend some time sanding the plank with your 400 grit sandpaper. It’s important to get the wood and edges pretty smooth here, as balsa can get kinda fuzzy and you don’t want that texture showing through when you paint.

Paint the plank with your lighter color. If your wood begins to warp, never fear! It should flatten back out again once your piece is fully cured (24+ hours).Let dry for 1 hour.

DIY Ombre Chalkboard 1

The plank is slightly bowed in this picture because the wet paint warped the wood. Once the paint fully dried, it flattened right out!

If your first coat is splotchy, paint a second coat and let dry for an additional hour.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

Mask your plank with alternating pieces of masking tape. The untaped spaces will become your ombré pattern while the masked parts remain the base color. Burnish the edges of the tape so that paint doesn’t seep underneath! I didn’t burnish all edges because I’m a rebel, and as you’ll see later, I had some seepage :/

DIY Ombre ChalkboardDIY Ombre ChalkboardDIY Ombre Chalkboard

Mix your colors for the ombré. You’ll actually need to mix 6 shades if you’re following my measurements/taping pattern. I didn’t realize this until I was halfway through painting (d’oh!) and had to mix some up on the fly.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

Toward the darker colors, I got lazy and neglected to burnish the tape, so paint bled underneath. Womp.

Paint your ombré as follows: you’ll want the top color of your piece to be your flat base color (furthest left in photo), so your lightest ombré color should be painted in what will be the second slot of color from the top (second from left in photo).

Pro tip: paint AWAY from the tape edge and toward the center of the strip to further prevent bleeding. If your paint still bleeds, don’t fret! With a steady hand you can always fix it after the fact like I did below.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

See? Not too shabby.

Let the paint dry for at least an hour, and then lightly sand with 400 grit sandpaper to remove any obvious brush marks or ridges left by the masking tape.

Paint at least two coats of the clear chalkboard paint on your plank, if not 3. I tried sanding between coats to see if that would smooth out the brush strokes of the chalk paint, but it didn’t seem to make a difference so I’d forgo wasting effort on that.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

This part is optional! If you’d like to add a polished edge to your chalkboard, cut 27″ of foil tape and affix to edges with overlap facing the top side, removing the tape backing as you go. Trust me on this one…don’t remove the backing until you’re ready to affix, otherwise you’ll end up with a big ol’ pile of tangled useless sticky copper. Trim excess.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

Vertically snip the corners of the copper tape to aid in folding.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

Smooth edges flush with the front of your piece.

DIY Chalkboard Grocery List

Don’t worry about wrinkling the tape. It adds to the charm!

DIY Ombre Chalkboard

I’ve been using a chalk marker with mine because I absolutely detest the feeling of chalk on my fingers and/or the sound of chalk on a chalkboard (gives me instant goosebumps). Plus, it just makes for prettier/more legible writing. You can find chalk markers pretty easily in craft stores or on Amazon. I found mine at Michael’s in the scrapbooking/specialty marker section.

If you’ll be using this as a grocery list, plop a couple magnets to the back of your plank with hot glue, and you’re good to go! Show that baby off front and center on your fridge, perhaps with a list of ingredients for one of Nicole’s recipes ;)

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Blogger at Merit + Fork
The Merit of Merit + Fork, Elizabeth's posts are driven by her innate need to just make stuff.

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