Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Kitchen Chalkboard Wall: A Tale of Self Loathing

I originally wrote the below as an Amazon review for Rust-Oleum Chalkboard Paint, just for the sake of venting after a disastrous DIY project.  I was surprised to discover that it has become the top review, so here it is in its entirety for anyone who might want to have a giggle at my expense.  And yes, that's really a picture of me covered in chalkboard paint dust.

Ah, chalkboard paint. Let's see, where do I begin? *insert maniacal cackling here*

So I recently had the super bright idea to paint an entire wall in my kitchen with this stuff. Wait, don't judge me yet- it wasn't like I'd planned to let my kids at it with a bucket full of sidewalk chalk. No, I'd envisioned a stylish wall filled with beautifully scripted holiday menus, cheeky quotes, inspiring verses, and other adorable things. I wholly blame Pinterest for this temporary lapse in sanity.

Armed with the creative vision of Martha Stewart and the home improvement skill level of my German Shepherd, I purchased two cans of Rustoleum brand chalkboard paint and some allegedly smooth(hahahahaha) paint rollers. I taped off the edges and got to work smearing this stuff all over my wall. Two coats and a few hours later, I stood back and admired my shiny new chalkboard surface. I let it "cure" for a few days as per the package directions, and then decided to take it for a test drive.

I found a cute chalkboard drawing of a pumpkin via Google image search, and tried to replicate it on my wall. Given that I'm about as much an artist as I am a pterodactyl (which is to say, not at all, just in case there's any confusion), my pumpkin looked more like a sad, partially deflated beach ball wearing a toupee. Oops, guess I needed to practice a little more. No biggie! With the determination of a newborn foal, I grabbed my kids' chalkboard eraser and cheerily wiped at my drawing. EXCEPT IT WOULDN'T.COME.OFF. The surface was rough and difficult to erase. There was now a permanent, poorly drawn, sad-looking squash emblazoned on my kitchen wall.

See, what no one tells you when you buy this amazing, fancy paint is that unless you've used a really thick primer, your walls need to be sanded before you apply it in order to get a smooth drawing surface. And that you should probably then apply it with a foam roller rather than one of those fuzzy ones.

Since I couldn't just leave my wall looking like the side of an overpass, I realized my options were either to paint over it with the wall color I'd used elsewhere in my kitchen, or try to sand it. Because I definitely didn't have enough on my plate with three kids, a small business to run, and a ton of housework, and because I'm clearly not firing on all synapses, I chose the latter. I returned to my beloved home improvement store and purchased several packs of sandpaper and some more paint. (Not a mask though, because that would have been just plain logical, and ain't none of that happenin under my roof!)

I returned home with a vengeance and attacked the stupid chalkboard wall with this sandpaper. Now, if you've never had to sand a tall, vertical surface, let me just tell you that it's probably right up there with being waterboarded on my list of "Awesome Life Experiences". Actually, being waterboarded is probably more interesting.

After ingesting enough black dust to develop Coalworker's Pneumoconiosis and looking like I'd just crawled out of someone's chimney, my wall was nice and smooth. I wiped it down with a damp sponge to remove any residual dust, and then broke out a new can of chalkboard paint.

I began applying the paint with a renewed sense of joy, back to imagining how great my chalkboard wall was going to be once it was finished. Oh man, it was going to be AWESOME! And then I accidentally knocked over the can of paint and spilled half of it down the side of my kitchen table and onto my floor. Looking back, I think this was probably the point at which I totally broke from reality, but who knows.

After cleaning up this giant puddle of thick black paint (dish soap and water, for all you fellow clumsy people), I had pretty much lost all interest in finishing this stupid bleeping wall. Actually, I hated it. I began flinging paint onto the wall much the way an animal rights protester might fling blood red paint at old ladies in fur coats. That said, eventually, I did finish painting it.

I'm pleased to report that after allowing it to cure again, then rubbing a piece of chalk allllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll over it, then erasing all that chalk, then cleaning the entire wall with a damp sponge, it's working great! I mean I wasted hours of my life and probably sacrificed any chance at pulmonary longevity, but hey, I can write on my wall with CHALK now. So there's that.

(In all seriousness, the product itself works great. Just make sure you sand your walls and maybe even use a primer first.)