Make Your Own Colored Chalkboard Paint

By Kate Riley March 24, 2011

It was a dark and stormy night.  Really, it was.  Last weekend, I was home on a Saturday night in my pajamas, experimenting with some brands of colored chalkboard paint, making vases, and halfheartedly watching a movie.  This is the suburban life I lead. 

All of a sudden I had an idea.  What if I didn’t want to stick with the manufactured  colored chalkboard paints I was working with?  What about a DIY version in any color I could possibly imagine?  I remembered that Martha Stewart had published a recipe years ago for homemade chalkboard paint, but I had never tried it.  When I went to find it online I couldn’t.  That dark and stormy night had killed my internet connection.  I recalled it was some combination of non-sanded grout and paint, so I started experimenting, mixing up batches of my own, wondering if this would really work. 

Pay no attention to that Cabernet.  I swear it had nothing to do with it! 


OK, maybe it did.

sat night in kitchen


At first, I came up with 2 tablespoons of grout to 3 tablespoons of paint ~ a combo that was way too thick.  So I kept at it, adding more paint each time, eventually ending up at a formula that was made up of 3/4 cup of latex paint and 2 tablespoons of non-sanded grout. 

recipe test


With the blue paint left over from my boy’s room, I created this little toothbrush holder, with my very own homemade chalkboard paint.  Love it!

cg chalkboard toothbrush holder

(If you want to recreate something similar, read this article about applying water based chalkboard paints to ceramics.)

By the end of the night, I discovered that Martha was correct.  A combination of non-sanded grout and latex paint truly does create a working chalkboard surface in any color you wish. 

So I made some spring planters too, in more custom colors I mixed myself.

ima chalkboard planters


They’re great just in case you want to leave messages to amuse yourself. . .

thin mints chalkboard message


. . . or welcoming ones too.

cg colored chalkboard planters


My final experiment was with a piece of paneling leftover from our recent board and batten project.  I was able to make a wall mounted chalkboard in the kid’s playspace with the same exact wall color from this room.  Awesome.

kids chalkboard wall


cg colored chalkboard panel


A few things I learned in my experiments.

1.  Your concoction should look like runny oatmeal once mixed.  Mmmm, tasty!  You will question your sanity and whether this will ever really work, as I did many times.

like oatmeal


2.  When you first apply your homemade chalkboard paint, there are a ton of granules that convince you this will indeed never work. 

grainy surface


3.  As you apply the paint to the surface, 95% of the granules dissolve leaving a mostly smooth surface.  You’ll have to pick out a few of the larger remaining clumps, but for the most part, I was shocked how the grout seemed to ‘melt’ into the paint.  Cool.

4.  Chalk ink pens are not friendly to your homemade concoction. 

chalk ink pens


So unfriendly, it required that I repaint over the entire section with my homemade colored chalkboard paint.  Grrrr. 

**update: one reader suggested the use of nail polish remover for chalk ink pens.

paint over chalkboard paint


5.  If you want to use chalk ink pens, stick with the manufactured colored chalkboard paints.  Those surfaces will not discolor like the homemade version does when using the specialty chalk pens. 

6.  The good news is, traditional chalk works perfectly!  In fact, a simple damp rag allows you to erase any white chalk and start over with a clean chalkboard background.   

damp rag chalkboard surface

7.  Refrigerating your paint between coats helps prevent your homemade paint from getting too clumpy. 

8.  Unlike the manufactured colors by Hudson and RustOleum, your surface will not be as smooth.  The nice thing about the manufactured paint colors is they go on perfectly smooth like ordinary acrylic or latex paints.  The homemade version, at least in my experience, required that I pick out some of the granules as I went along.  Light sanding might help alleviate this problem with the first coat, but then you have the same issue with the second coat.  I’d still do recommend the homemade version for smaller projects. 

9.  A final lesson learned.  Kids will always take over your fancy chalkboard for themselves no matter what you say. 

girl drawing on chalkboard


But at least I have my planters!

cg chalkboard planters

Those outdoor pillows I found last year at OSH, I wish they still had them but I checked, they don’t. 

My final colored chalkboard paint recipe was 3/4 cup of latex paint for every 2 tablespoons of non-sanded grout.  Martha’s chalkboard paint recipe calls for 1 full cup of latex paint for every 2 tablespoons of non-sanded grout.  I’m thinking anywhere in between, you really can’t go wrong.

Anyone else experiment with your own formula?  What were your results? 




  1. Brilliant, and yes, that is quite a mix for coming up with all kinds of great ideas! I love the colors…I’m going to have to give this a try! Janell

  2. How industrious, Kate! That pic of your daughter is delish… and I love the planters; I can’t believe anyone has that weather already. We have ice and snow and temps in the 20s today! But that’s Michigan! Gotta love it!

  3. Just looked back at your photos… at the recipes you jotted down on your work surface. :) I have a lot of that last ingredient, you would think I’d get more done, LOL!

  4. This is such a timely post as just this morning I was experimenting with chalkboard paint. I can’t tell you exaclty what I am doing as I am not sure it will work. If it does I will be sure to post about it!

  5. Are you kidding me? Where do you come up with this fabulous stuff? I imagine that you lay awake in bed at night thinking “what can I do next?” Lol. I love your creativity and your drive. The planters are just GREAT!

  6. Awesome! I love that you were willing to experiment! I have tried to find colored chalk board paint, so far all I’ve been able to find is the standard black and green. Thansk for the tips!

  7. Perfecto! Thanks to you and the Valspar paint sample I know exactly what I am doing this weekend!!! Drinking wine…I mean, painting a chalkboard for my kitchen while drinking wine! :)

  8. My friend on attempting aloha did this a couple weeks ago and now you…I’m convinced!

  9. Brilliant!! You never cease to amaze me, Kate! I have to ask about your “recipe” above for the green chalkboard paint – “1 part avoidance”? Was the green chalkboard paint mocking you or giving you a hard time? ;-)

  10. Love those planters- what a great idea! I’m impressed that you actually came up with the formula- I would have waited for my internet connection to come back (or decided I didn’t really need chalkboard paint after all)! :D

  11. This post takes ALL! I can’t even believe this can be done. WE WILL BE USING THIS IN OUR KIDS’ ROOM!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you so much! Its awesome!

  12. Very cool idea! I really love your blog. Thank you for all the great ideas! I hope to replicate them soon.

  13. Oh awesome! Thank you for the recipe and the tips. This is something I’d really like to try out. We have tons of leftover paint that I’d like to use up. :-) Glad your experiments turned out!

  14. love the planters! and darn those girl scouts, they are not helping my lose 5 lbs before my vacation cause!

  15. I have often wondered how easy it would be to make my own. I have seen the recipe also.. but, lets face it.. I am too lazy. :-0 I love the flower pots. I wonder how well they would handle the rain? Anything outdoors here would be rained on, A LOT.

  16. How about running the grout through the food processor before mixing to get it nice and fine? If that didn’t work, maybe running the paint/grout mixture through as well?

    And then washing everything reaaaallly good, so you don’t have Ocean Blue Salsa. :-)

  17. oh, and you’re right about the chalk pen not being homemade-chalkboard-friendly thing. I tried using a white chalk pen on my wall recently and it DID NOT want to come off the wall. I’ve read some reviews that say to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

  18. You are so funny, Kate! I laughed out loud at the wine comment . . . great idea with the colored chalk board paint. Thanks for taking the time to figure out the recipe.

  19. I didn’t know you could make your own chalkboard paint either, before you mentioned it. I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to greet your guests with “Do you have Thin Mints?” That’s a good thing to know before you invite people into your home. I need to pair drinking and crafting together more often…maybe if I loosened up a bit, I’d be more fearless. ;)

    Love the paint wall—your daughter looks like she’s enjoying it too. :)

  20. Lol. I love the ‘suburban life” description, Kate. Sounds awfully familiar! And LOADS of fun!!! :)

    We’ve made our own chalkboard paint using grout and it turned out great! We posted about our diy {magnetic} chalkboard paint adventures here:

    P.S. I love your flowerpots!


  21. oh thankyouthankyouthankyouthankhyouthankyou! i doubt very much we can get chalkboard paint here (already enquired from my favourite paint shop and he said nobody around our parts knows about or buys these things so he stopped stocking them). never imagined you could actually make it! excited!

  22. Hey Jenny! LOL, that’s too funny, that ‘Avoidance’ is actually the name of the paint!!! 3 parts ‘dill pickle’ 1 part ‘avoidance’ does sound strange !!!


  23. You’re a genius. That is an awesome idea. I’m sure the Cabernet had everything to do with it!
    Lila Ferraro

  24. You never cease to amaze me, Kate! You are brilliant. Your front porch looks so pretty and springy.

  25. OMG brilliant! Those pots are gorgeous. I’m definitely going to make some of those for Mother’s Day and maybe even my garden club’s small plant sale we have each year (we either donate the money to charity or use it to add plants to some of our community flower beds). I can’t wait to use up some of the leftover paint we have.

  26. That is fantastic! We are painting next month and will definitely give this idea a spin! Thanks so much!

  27. I just took out the leftover grout that was used when we built our house, it was going out with the trash tomorrow! Not anymore! I was planning on making a chalkboard table this weekend for my boys! Talk about PERFECT timing!!! I’m SO excited right now!!!

  28. You play around with crafty things the way I would play around in the kitchen. I’m really brave at mixing up my own creations in the kitchen…this project of your would never have crossed my mind. Very cool idea!

  29. So sorry if someone asked already, but do you have to prime it with chalk before you use it like other premade chalk board paint? I’m so going to get nuts with this this summer!

  30. I wish I would’ve read this about 2 weeks ago! I painted my door and then used some great new chalk markers all over it…..and then also had to repaint. I’m glad you posted this though to save other people time and frustration!

  31. This is great! And then after the Thin Mint notion, I decided that this is something I could do with my girl scouts!!!! I thought you were being clever with the avoidance and dill pickles. I actually thought you were eating dill pickles, drinking wine and avoiding the project!!! And OMG, is that a DISH I SPY in your kitchen sink??? How reckless of you. ;)

  32. I wonder if the final product would be smoother if you put the grout in a coffee grinder or blender before you mix it into the paint.

  33. Jackie B, you’ve witnessed my kitchen less than clean!!! Typical day actually. And I’m sure many peeps thought the same as you about the ‘dill pickles’ and ‘avoidance’ but they are the names of my paint colors !!!!

    Jackie – the non sanded grout is actually a very fine powder so I don’t think a blender would do any good, great thinking though!


  34. I can not tell you how excited I am to find your terrific “recipe” and can not wait to try in on my potting shed inside-of-exterior-door! I’ll be able to keep all my seed info attractively. There were great colors available originally but now I can only find black or green. Bravo to you!Love those pots. Oh boy, Spring is just around the corner! Thank You! Thank You! G.

  35. After you last post on this I was inspired to paint one entire wall in my office with chalkboard paint so I can go crazy with the ideas as they come to me, but was frustrated with the color selection at my local Home Depot. Then you went and posted this. I hear you! (I just hope i have the skills to pull this off!) Stay tuned! I plan to post about my success (or failure) and share it with you! Gracias!!

  36. Anyone know if you can paint this on over a magnetic whiteboard or on metal with good results? I want a magnetic surface that uses chalk. Thanks for the inspiration Kate!

  37. Martha Stewart’s site specifies using flat paint, but I noticed that one of your paint cans says “gloss finish.” Did you try it with multiple finishes? Notice any differences?

  38. So happy you posted this. I am planning on painting a large section behind my sons bed on his wall and have been unhappy with the existing tint colors. Thanks for inspiring me to just go for it with this recipe. If I can become more computer/picture savvy I’ll send some before and after!

  39. Great idea to make the paint!! But also did you know that Home Depot or the local paint store can tint the white chalkboard paint ANY color you like? You can pick any color from a color sample or match it to a pillow. That way you can tint it to match some other paint you have exactly!

  40. This is a great idea….does the color of the grout change the tint of the paint & what color grout do you recommend??


  41. This is the mark of a very determined girl!! You have mixed such pretty color – I’m thinking you might have some Inner Chemist going on.

  42. I did NOT know that I could make my own chalkboard paint! But I have unsanded grout and have a strange obsession with mixing paint colors. All the stars are aligning here…if I do it, I’ll link to your blog. Thanks!

  43. Although I much rather just buy the paint instead of make it, I like that you can produced any color you want instead of the typical black and I especially love the red wine on the counter! :) What kind??

  44. Hey Carol! Great question I don’t know if you need to use white! Wondering if gray would tint the paint gray, etc. I used pure white, so let me know if you experiment, I’m so interested to find out if different grout powder effects the color of the paint and final result!

  45. Awesome Celeste, so good to know!! Now that I think of it, the RustOleum versions come in quarts, so it makes perfect sense you can choose any color and tint it there in the paint department, you smart girl!

  46. Um HELLO Genius! You amaze me Kate. Thanks so much for this great idea!!! Oh and check out my recent nightstand refurb if you have time…love how it turned out!

  47. Amazing… as always. Thanks so much! I’ve got to go me me some grout! :) I’m filing this at

    Have a wonderful day!

  48. I love your colors and am crazy about chalkboard paint too! I’ve been making my own with satin latex. I love the idea from an earlier comment about having Home Depot mix colors of any shade into the white chalkboard paint. Brilliant!
    As for the clumps, I never had a problem when I first started making my paint but I wonder if over time some moisture got into the huge bag of grout? It wasn’t sealed very tight. Could that make it more clumpy?
    Thank you so much for sharing!

  49. Hi, I tried this and it worked great! However, after making up a pickle jar sized batch and coming back to it after about a week, I found that it had turned into almost a solid. Did you have this experience in trying to store it? Or did you try to store it at all? I know my jar was sealed properly. Any advice would be appreciated! Thanks for the post.

  50. Kate – I was looking for chalkboard paint to match my kitchen and I stumbled on to your page. I love DIY projects, so when I saw this, I was so excited to try it. It was so easy to make and a 1/2 quart was big enough to do my 30×36″ sized board. I even made a little bag to hold the chalk. lol

    I started with magnetic primer and added a total of 4 coats of your paint. It worked out so well and everyone loves it! I am attaching a photo to show you. Please mind the mess, we are still in the process of moving in. :)

    Thanks so much for an easy tutorial! I am now even more proud of my kitchen :)

    the cozy corner
    Close up of board and bag

  51. ….I love this…but I was searching for a cheaper version of the so called Annie Sloan Chalk paint….do you know if your homemade chalk board paint will distress easily (desirable)?

  52. I was wondering the same as Inger. Can I make my own chalk paint and use it with the same or similar effect on furniture as Annie Sloan’s paint?

  53. Oh wow. these ideas are great and fabulous! All of these pics are so inspiring, and the great things you can do with chalkboard paint is endless. I found and bought my daughter 2 quarts of genius pink genius, a great, girly, hot pink. She absolutely loves it, and it is now covering an entire wall of her room. Her and her friends do the greatest and funniest things with chalk, and we are both really happy we did it!

  54. I was wondering if anyone tried the previous post about different finishes such as gloss etc? Also will this only work with latex or could I use acrylic? Thanks for the wonderful inspirations!

  55. cant wait to try this with my cub scouts im going to get sample jars of paint and let them mix there own ck board paint maybe prime some sheetmetal and let them make their own magnetic chalk board for home what fun

  56. Hi, I just recently came across your website after having the idea of trying out the chalkboard paint. I excitedly went to work and whipped up my own batch of white chalkboard paint and painted my pantry door white, which matches my kitchen. I also painted a few little flower pots white (I really like white). Then I waited patiently for the paint to dry and went to work marking up my new chalkboards with chalk (I used traditional chalk in blue) and then when I went to wipe it off, and found that it left a faint shadow of blue of what I had written.

    Is this normal for using colored chalk? Is using white as the paint color not recommended? I would like to know if others ran into this same problem or if I may have done something wrong. I would really like to use white if I’m able, but if others have found it to be impossible to work with, I would like to know as well.


  57. I work for a non-profit and we are always trying to find inexpensive ways to create art/crafts. Love the chalk board paint receipe- we experiment a lot too! If your into recycling/reuse, you can use the chalkboard paint on the insert panel of an old cabinet door. Decorate the frame with mosaic or stencil, add a few hooks and you have a key rack and message center! You have also saved a cabinet door from the landfill!!!

  58. RE: Homemade chalkboard paint:

    Even grout that doesn’t have sand often has other additives, like polymers that can be less than desirable for chalkboards.
    Because it is getting more and more difficult to find grout that doesn’t have any additives, I offer these two options:
    Powdered sheet rock compound. Drawback is in the quantity you must buy, just to get a few tablespoons,
    Best readily available item I found is to use plaster of paris. Can get it in small quantities, and often already in the toolkit of many crafters.

    Or, how about this one? Pulverize a piece of sidewalk chalk to a fine dust. (Use a common grater, or heavy sandpaper.) It’s calcium carbonate, AKA “chalk”. That’s the part of the grout useful to you, and that’s the easiest, least expensive option.


  59. Love this idea! I have loads of leftover paint, and some non-sanded grout, from a recent home improvement project – now I have a new way to use it!

  60. I just did this to our coat closet (our lil’ ones’ favorite place to play) walls; I used a metal whisk to stir and had ZERO clumping issues. At first, I mixed the paint in a metal mixing bowl, which was ideal as there were no corners to scrape at, but on subsequent batches I just mixed directly in the paint tray…a little more work to get the grout out of the corners, but the whisk worked like a dream, no clumps, no lumps, NOTHING!

  61. All great instructions but I have just a few suggestions:
    Sand your raw surface first with 220 paper. Wipe off. Prime with Oil Based primer that is tinted gray. Sand again with 220. Wipe off. Use cottage cheese containers that you have marked the 1 cup line on. Put a little water int he bottom, add the 2 tbsp grout, mix to a fine paste, THEN add your paint to the 1 cup line. This will give you a smooth, non-sandy paint.

  62. So I’ve tried to do the same thing and it didn’t work. I added 8tbs of non-sand grout to 4 cups outdoor black mat paint and the mixture is no time became thick like tar. I tried to spread it on the plywood anyway but it seems more like pavement than paint. What did I do wrong?

    • Hmmm, not sure Karen! I’ve only made it in small batches, but I’ve used several different kinds of latex paint. Wondering what brands of grout and paint you used?

  63. I tried again…..this time I made the chalk board paint 1 cup at a time. Once the grout was mixed in I quickly dumped it onto my plywood and rolled it out. I noticed it was a tiny bit lumpy so I did a final coat and this time mixed the grout with a little water before mixing it in my paint. This last coat worked the best and my huge outdoor 3’x4′ chalk boards were a success!


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