Learn how to make (and install) a large outdoor chalkboard for kids with this simple step-by-step DIY tutorial.
Transform your backyard, patio, schoolyard, or home daycare with a large outdoor DIY Chalkboard! Backyard chalkboards are a great outdoor play area and educational space for children to learn and create chalk art. Below, we share how to make an outdoor chalkboard, with two simple methods to install it (complete with step-by-step DIY instructions and the tips and tricks we have learned over the years) that make building a giant outdoor chalkboard easy! You might also enjoy this list of outdoor learning activities for kids.
When our daughter was a baby, toddler, and preschooler, my husband and I ran a daycare in our home on a one-acre lot. So we created a lot of DIY outdoor play areas for kids to help them learn through play all day–winter, spring, summer, and fall. And one of our favorite and most popular outdoor play spaces is a large outdoor chalkboard for backyards and patios.
But a couple of years later, we had to make a new DIY outdoor chalkboard for kids when we moved to a new house. Therefore we had to devise a new way to install our exterior chalkboard because we ran into an unexpected snafu. Please scroll down to read about it, see pictures of both outside chalkboards, and the step-by-step directions you need to make one for your backyard, patio, schoolyard, or home daycare.
Over the years, my husband, mother, and I also made a bunch of other fun outdoor play spaces for kids; water walls, sand and water tables, a backyard sandbox, fairy gardens, an outdoor art table, and a mud pie kitchen. Click on each link to learn how to make these DIY backyard project ideas.
How to Make aN Outdoor Chalkboard
As mentioned above, we have made and used several outdoor chalkboards. Our favorite outdoor DIY chalkboard tip, and best secret, is using a hollow wooden interior door (without a doorknob hole cut into it) to make a giant outside chalkboard.
A hollow wooden door provides a much smoother surface to make into an outdoor chalkboard than a sheet of plywood (or any other type of wood ever could) because they are finished and ready to be painted!
First, paint the hollow wooden door with an exterior primer and chalkboard paint. Next, hang it up or position it on your patio or backyard to install it. For the complete details, scroll down and follow the step-by-step instructions to make a DIY outdoor chalkboard. You might also enjoy learning how to make a Fairy Garden.
Update: The original outdoor chalkboard that we made lasted five years before we felt the need to replace it. It was exposed to the elements and was never covered, so the wood became slightly warped and delaminated over time.
The chalkboard paint we used never peeled or delaminated because we put on a fresh coat every six months to a year. After five years, however, we decided it was time for a new outside chalkboard, so we made a new one just as quickly and easily as the first, as shown below!
Large Outdoor Chalkboard DIY Materials
Here’s a list of the supplies you need to make an outdoor chalkboard:
- A hollow interior wooden door without a doorknob hole cut into it. We found ours used at ReStore by Habitat for Humanity (not affiliated). But you can find a new hollow wooden door at most home improvement centers.
- Outdoor exterior primer
- Chalkboard Paint
- 6-inch foam roller for ultra-smooth surfaces
- Tarp, drop cloth, or an old sheet
- Screws and anchors or cinderblocks
- Drill/Driver (optional)
Related: How to Make Mud Pies
DIY Chalkboard Step-by-Step Tutorial
First, follow the step-by-step directions below to make a large exterior chalkboard for kids to put in your backyard, schoolyard, home daycare, or even on a patio. Next, scroll down to the bottom of this post to learn two easy ways to install a DIY chalkboard. And be sure to check out this Shadow Art Outdoor STEAM project too!
1. Prepare to paint a DIY chalkboard.
- Find an area large enough to paint the hollow wooden door.
- Place a tarp or an old sheet underneath it to protect the area you will be painting the DIY chalkboard for kids.
2. Paint the door with an outdoor primer.
- Use a paint roller with a smooth finish to paint at least one coat of exterior primer and allow it to dry before moving on to the next step.
3. Cover primer with a coat or two of chalkboard paint.
- Paint a coat or two of chalkboard paint.
- Use long, smooth strokes and work quickly because it can get tacky as it begins to dry.
- Allow the chalkboard paint to dry.
- Scroll down to the next tutorial to learn how to install an outdoor chalkboard.
Our Homemade Chalkboard For Kids
We found the hollow wooden doors that we used to make chalkboards at ReStore by Habitat for Humanity (not affiliated). But because this blog (Rhythms of Play) did not exist when we made our first two large outdoor chalkboards, we didn’t take any tutorial photos to share. So we only have pictures of the next DIY chalkboard we made.
As you can see in the photo tutorial below, the previous owner used it to paint a sign and then donated it when they no longer needed it. We thought it would make a beautiful exterior chalkboard for our new patio because it was already painted and ready to go.
And because the wooden door we found had a few base coats of paint applied, we opted not to use a primer and instead started with one coat of chalkboard paint. And we have discovered through experience that starting with one or two coats of blackboard paint is fine because it’s better to save the remaining chalkboard paint and use it to put on a fresh coat every few months.
How to Install an Outdoor Chalkboard
Over the years, we have experimented with two easy ways to install an outdoor chalkboard. And as you can see in the photographs, we hung them low enough for toddlers and preschoolers to draw and write on them easily. Scroll down to learn more about each method. You might also enjoy Magnet Fishing for Kids.
My husband and I made our first set of outdoor chalkboards to hang in a corridor between our garage and our house when we ran a childcare business out of our home when our daughter was a baby and toddler. We named it “chalkboard alley” and filled it with chalk drawings on the chalkboards and along the floor of the concrete corridor made by the toddlers and preschoolers in our care. You can see our only pictures in the photos of my husband and our daughter and the one of myself drawing on them below.
How to Hang An Outdoor DIY Chalkboard
As you can see in the photographs of my family above, we hung the first DIY chalkboard we made in a long corridor between our house and the garage. The walls were board and batten, so we drilled long screws into the wood to hang it. It was so easy we didn’t even need anchors!
Fortunately, you can drill into all surfaces, including drywall and stucco, if you use the correct screws and anchors to hang your outdoor chalkboard. Ask your local hardware or home improvement store for help if needed. They should be able to help you choose the proper hardware and tools to hang your outdoor chalkboard anywhere you’d like it.
After hanging the two DIY chalkboards we made for our home daycare, we took the photos above and below. Over time it turned into a beautiful alleyway with chalk art drawings all over the chalkboards and the sidewalk below, where the kids in our care spent lots of time creating, playing, and learning. For more fun ideas, look at these rock painting ideas for kids.
I wish I had taken more pictures of these first outdoor DIY chalkboards, but we made them long before starting this website, so I dug up the only old photos I could share because I didn’t want to share pictures of the other children without permission from their parents. But a few years later, we moved and found a new way to put up an outdoor chalkboard that you can see in the photo with my daughter below. Scroll down to learn how we did it.
How to Put Up, Position, or Prop an Outdoor Chalkboard Without Hanging It
When we made our next DIY chalkboard, our landlord would not allow us to drill into the wall to hang it–bummer. At first, I thought this meant that we could not have one, but then I came up with the brilliant idea of propping our outdoor chalkboard up on cinderblocks–no screws or drills needed. And it works great!
Update: This DIY outdoor chalkboard has been on cinderblocks for over eight years and has never fallen or become a hazard. And we’ve had many children and animals running around over the years to test it.
However, our exterior chalkboard is exposed to the elements, which has caused it to warp a little over time. So after about five years, we felt the need to replace it with a brand new homemade chalkboard after several years of use and abuse. You might also enjoy this list of DIY Backyard Pallet projects with complete step-by-step tutorials.
Outdoor DIY Chalkboard for Kids
Transform your backyard or patio with a DIY Chalkboard! Large outdoor chalkboards are a great space to get creative, help pass the time in the backyard, and are great for early literacy. Writing and creating chalk art on a vertical surface is a great learning activity for kids.
Making an outdoor chalkboard for kids is relatively easy, and you don’t have to hang it to make it work. In our experience, propping an exterior chalkboard up on cinderblocks works excellent too! For even more outdoor fun, check out this incredible collection of outdoor activities for kids.
Learn more about Rhythms of Play HERE!