Chalkboard messages on the front porch are an easy, affordable way to add some personality to the neighborhood. They can be made using leftover building materials at little cost.


    • Sidewalk chalk
    • Board
    • Flat latex paint
    • Unsanded grout
    • Paintbrush or small paint roller
    • Hardware for hanging

To begin, you’ll need a board of some sort, the flatter the better. It can be made of different types of material, but there are two non-negotiables. One, it must be porous, so that it can take the paint. (Metal is not great for this purpose.) Two, it’s best if it is very smooth and easy to write on with chalk. (Plywood is too bumpy.) We recommend reusing an old piece of framed art from your local resale shop. Maybe you already have something around the house that doesn’t spark joy in its current condition. Reuse it!

Next, you might need to sand down your surface, but it isn’t always necessary. Depending on your board, you may be ready to paint! Flat latex paint can become chalkboard paint by mixing in a small amount of unsanded grout. Check your local “Buy Nothing” group to see if any handy neighbors have some left over from a tiling project. You won’t need much.

The recommended ratio of grout to paint is 1 to 8. So, however much paint you need to paint your board, you need to add one-eighth of that amount in grout. On a small project that only needs half a cup of paint, add exactly one tablespoon of grout. Be advised that as soon as you mix in your grout, it begins to harden. So be ready to paint your board right away. This DIY chalkboard paint won’t keep for later use.

Apply two coats of DIY chalkboard paint. Then let your board dry for three days, allowing the paint time to cure. Chalkboard enthusiasts recommend one last step: conditioning your new chalkboard. Run a piece of chalk all over the board, covering every inch. Then wipe off the chalk with a dry towel. Your chalkboard is now ready to hang!

Find a place to hang your chalkboard outside your front door that is visible from the street. Now use sidewalk chalk to write your message in big, clear letters. You can use seasonal greetings like, “Spring Is Sprung!” or “Happy Summer!” You’re sure to get a few smiles if you throw in some puns like, “May The Fourth Be With You!” or “Thistle Be The Best Day Ever!” You can use your chalkboard however you like to add brightness and personality to your neighborhood.

What would you write on your outdoor chalkboard?