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Anna G. Larson, Published November 21 2012

Thursday review: Chalk up another great indoor idea

FARGO – Chalkboards were once reserved for classrooms. Now, they’re trendy home décor, and just about any surface can be transformed into a writable surface with chalkboard paint.

I bought two kinds of chalkpaint, both in classic black: Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Chalkboard Acrylic Craft Paint and Krylon Chalkboard Paint. I used pieces of birch plywood to test both.

Krylon’s paint comes in an aerosol can, just like spray paint. I took the wood outside to douse it with paint since the aerosol fumes are hazardous indoors. The paint went on evenly and easily. I waited an hour and applied a second coat per directions on the paint can.

Martha Stewart’s variation on chalkboard paint is painted rather than sprayed. I was able to paint the rectangle of wood at my kitchen table without worrying about dangerous fumes. I used a foam brush to apply the paint. It went on easily, although I wished I had a big brush so I could cover more area.

After an hour, I applied the second coat, which was suggested on the paint bottle. I couldn’t smell the paint, even after two coats.

Both paints require a 24-hour curing period. Once cured, both painted chalkboards also required conditioning, which is done by rubbing chalk over the board before writing on it.

The board painted with Krylon’s spray chalkboard paint felt smoother and erased more easily. It looked like a classic chalkboard. Martha Stewart’s paint appeared darker but not as smooth. Part of that could be attributed to my painting skills. I found it more difficult to write on and erase.

The paints are fairly inexpensive. I purchased both at Michaels in West Fargo. The spray can cost about $8, and the Martha Stewart brand rang up at about $6.

For big projects, I’d choose Krylon’s Chalkboard Paint since it can cover more area in less time more evenly. For smaller projects or with children, Martha Stewart Multi-Surface Chalkboard Acrylic Craft Paint is the best choice. The bonus of no harmful fumes overrides any gripes I had about smoothness.

The bottom line: Make sure the surface you’re painting is smooth, wait an hour between coats, let the paint cure a full 24 hours, and choose the paint that best fits your project size and health concerns.