Meet The Material: Chalkboard

Article Posted By: Jae Warren

of The Home Depot

Image of a bedroom designed with chalkboard walls

Image from Anthropologie via Wild And Precious

You might have unpleasant memories of being summoned to the blackboard, in front of the entire class, to solve some math problem you were hopelessly unprepared to answer. Relax … there’s no test to pass at the end of this post. And besides, as you can see here, writing on the chalkboard is a lot of fun these days.

Since James Pillans, headmaster of the Royal High School in Edinburgh, put up the first blackboard to teach geography sometime in the early 1800s, chalkboards have moved from the classroom to living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, playrooms — and we’ve even seen them in a few mudrooms. And the folks at Anthropologie took the idea to its ultimate conclusion a couple of years ago, displaying bedding in imagined all-chalkboard bedrooms, as seen above.

So, to get you started outlining your own projects, here are a few lessons we’ve learned about the many surprising uses for chalkboards.

What is chalkboard? The chalkboard, or blackboard as it was called originally in the U.K., is a smooth, thin sheet of black or dark green slate framed with wood used to write on. By the early 19th century, chalkboards had become an indispensable tool in classrooms. The blackboard enabled teachers to give written instructions to an entire class once, and perhaps opened the classroom to greater collaboration than ever before.

What are some of the cool properties of chalkboard? The highest grade chalkboards are made of a rougher version of porcelain enameled steel and can withstand 10 to 20 years in intensive use.

What are chalkboards used for? Chalkboards are present in many classrooms today where kids are still being challenged to prove they’ve been paying attention to what is being taught. Many restaurants and bars have been schooled in their use, too, posting their menus and beverage list on them for customers to peruse.

How can you use chalkboards? Ever considered making a DIY chalkboard wreath, or leaving a chalkboard greeting for your holiday guests? Crafty gift tags are also super easy to make with a little cardboard and chalkboard spray paint.

And for extra credit, you can explore other ideas for chalkboards that studious DIYers have come up with.

Image of a patio styled with a large chalkboard

Cute DIY chalkboard projects have become extremely popular of late. Recently, we invited a group of our favorite DIY bloggers from Dallas to participate in the Patio Edition our Style Challenge series. Joslyn Taylor from Simply Lovely designed this amazing outdoor living space, filled with natural color, warmth and an awesome board for the kids to doodle on.

Image of DIY chalkboard paint instructions

Image via Going Home To Roost

If the only thing keeping you from creating a chalkboard somewhere around your home is that you wish they came in some other color besides black — you’re in luck. Not only can you make your own custom-colored chalkboard paint, but there’s also tintable chalkboard paint, which allows you to easily keep track of all your colorful ideas.

Image of a bathroom with a chalkboard wall

Image via Design Sponge

Can’t quite settle on a new look for your bathroom? Blackboard walls make it very easy to achieve a complete makeover in minutes. And if you don’t like the results, just erase and start all over again.

Images of DIY Chalkboard Wedding decorations


Chalkboard weddings seem like such happy affairs, if these images from CHYKALOPHIA are any indication. With the help of graphic designer and custom chalk letterer Dana Tanamachi, this couple used chalkboards to add a personal touch of whimsy to their big day.

Bonus Fact! One of the first schools to use a large blackboard was the West Point Military Academy. Prior to the blackboard, students used handheld slates requiring the instructor to write lessons on each student’s individual tablet.

Meet the Material is a series designed to introduce you to some of the everyday goods sold at The Home Depot. Is there a material you’d like to know more about? Just let us know in the comments!