Decorating & Design

February 4, 2009

Blackboard Placecards

Make these DIY, bistro-style beauties in no time.

Let these cute, chalk-labeled placecards show guests where to sit.

Blackboard Basics

Using blackboard paint is a snap. You’ll have to invest a little time, but the actual technique is quite simple. The keys to success are to apply several coats (two to three), let each dry thoroughly, and allow the final coat to cure for several days before writing on the surface.

  • To prepare the surfaces, lightly sand the area with 120- or 140-grit sandpaper (this will allow the paint to adhere best to the surface). Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to clean away all dust.

  • Using low-tack masking tape, carefully tape off the area you will be painting.

  • Apply a coat of primer (use Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start 023 primer on already-finished surfaces and Benjamin Moore’s Alkyd Enamel Underbody 217 on raw wood). Let dry overnight.

  • Apply a coat of blackboard paint (try Benjamin Moore’s Studio Finishes Chalkboard Paint 307). Let dry overnight.

  • Apply a second coat of blackboard paint. Let dry thoroughly. If needed, apply a third coat. To let the final coat dry thoroughly, wait at least three days (and ideally seven) before writing on the blackboard surface.

Materials and Tools

  • 12 4” x 6” picture frames*
  • 1 sheet Masonite
  • 1 L primer (for hardboard)
  • 1 L blackboard paint (for hardboard)
  • 1 L latex primer (for frame)
  • 1 L latex paint (for frame)

* Inexpensive wood picture frames are widely available at décor and craft stores. Ours measured 4” x 6”. A 1/8”-thick sheet of Masonite (also known as “hardboard”) can be purchased in sheet form at building supply stores. At the store, get this sheet cut into 12 pieces, each measuring 5-7/8” x 3-7/8”.

What it Cost

Picture frames $12
Primer $14
Blackboard paint $14
Coloured primer $15
Red latex paint $16
Masonite $3
TOTAL (for 12) $74

Step 1: Prepare frames

Remove the glass inserts and cardboard backings from each frame.

Step 2: Apply blackboard paint

Sand, prime and paint the Masonite according to the instructions in “Blackboard Basics”.

Step 3: Paint picture frames

Paint the picture frames to finish the look. We painted some of our picture frames with Benjamin Moore 1314, a bright red. We left others unfinished so that we could alternate them with the painted versions at place settings. Once all paint is dry, reassemble frames (with Masonite in place of glass).


Joanne Tsakos