How to Make a Chalkboard Fridge

Follow Gina T. from myskinnygarden on the journey to convert her old fridge to a chalkboard fridge:

How to Make a Chalkboard Fridge
originally published at 

When we moved into our house the stove the previous owners left was rusted with hole in the side of it and there was no dishwasher at all.  We bought a new stove and dishwasher but the fridge was clean and in good working order so we decided to keep it until it broke.  We figured we might get another year of service from it.  Here we are nearly 7 years later and the big white monster is still going strong.  Since it sits immediately next to the stove, the fact that it doesn’t match the stainless steel is the first thing you notice when you enter the kitchen.  I think it drives my mother-in-law crazy. She keeps threatening to buy us a new one.

As I was planning my minor kitchen update I found this great idea to turn the fridge into a chalkboard on one of my favorite websites the kitchn.  Since I used a fairly different (and easier!) process for my fridge, I thought I’d explain how I did it here, in case any of you want to try it.

Our chalkboard fridge is extremely practical because it gives us a place to write notes and it makes the fridge match the other appliances a little better.  My mother-in-law approves!


  1. Determine the type of material your fridge is made from.  Mine, like most, is some type of metal but the front is covered with a layer of vinyl that is kind of textured.
  2. Purchase a primer that is appropriate to cover the material the surface of your fridge is made from. I would recommend checking with Green Home Experts because they carry environmentally friendly primer. Note: Although the instructions I found at the kitchn recommended I sand off the front of the fridge, I learned that some primers can be applied right over vinyl and that sanding off the vinyl would extremely messy and an all around miserable task.
  3. Purchase chalkboard paint.  I bought plain black because I wanted the fridge to match my other appliances but you can also get school-house green and apparently some big box stores carry up to 14 colors.  Even pink!
  4. Remove all handles from fridge. Note: I did not replace my handles after my fridge was finished because, well, the handles are white and I think that would look stupid. The fridge looks much better with no handles at all and we have not found it difficult to open the fridge using the corners.
  5. Cover the floor around the fridge and any other surfaces vulnerable to paint splatter.
  6. Apply primer front of fridge per the instructions on the primer can or per your paint professional’s recommendations.  I believe I used 2 coats of primer.  I did not treat the sides or top of the fridge at all and I’m happy with the way it turned out.
  7. Paint front of fridge using chalkboard paint (mixed well) per the instructions on the paint can or per your professional’s recommendations.  I painted 3 coats allowing each to completely dry in between.
  8. Allow chalkboard paint to set for a minimum of 3 days prior to writing on it.  I followed the instructions on my chalkboard paint can which recommended 3 days but the paint scratched off in one area the first time I wrote on it.  I really feel it is better to allow the paint to set for up to 2 weeks to prevent damage because patching was no fun.  By the time you finish you will have multiple layers of primer and paint and it takes longer than you’d think to completely dry and set.
  9. Season the chalkboard fridge by covering the entire surface with chalk then erasing it.  Turn a long piece of chalk on its long side to speed up the process.  This step is especially important if your fridge is textured like mine.  It allows chalk particles to fill the crevices of the surface.  If you skip this part, the first thing you write will not be able to be completely erased.
  10. Write, draw, have fun!  A chalkboard fridge is a great place to write planting dates, grocery lists, recipes, menus and track your vegetable harvest.

A note about chalk dust and chalkboard markers.  I read a lot about the potential of chalkboard dust in the kitchen but it has not been a problem for me at all.  I was so worried about it that I considered using chalkboard markers instead of real chalk until I learned that these markers are not really meant to be used on actual chalkboard paint.  I spoke to the company and they suggested just using the chalkboard markers to write directly on my white fridge.  The reason they won’t work on actual chalkboard paint is that a cleaner like Windex is required to wipe these marks off and these cleaners cannot be used with proper chalkboard paint.

There is a lot of debate about whether it makes more sense to replace an old fridge with a new, more energy efficient one and I can see both sides. New ones use less energy but replacing a perfectly serviceable fridge means a big hunk of metal to dispose of. For us, keeping the old one was more comfortable. Now that it’s a chalkboard I’m kind of dreading needing to buy a new one!

Please click here to see a slideshow of my chalkboard fridge conversion process.

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