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Bulletin Boards: Making Over Old Chalkboards & Corkboards

It's that time again!!!  I'm linking up with Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners for this month's #2getherwearebetter!  

This month we are coming together to talk about BULLETIN BOARDS! Who doesn't love a great bulletin board? It's a chance to add some color to your room, showcase great learning, as well as grant you some fun creative time! (Well okay, I love them when they're DONE!)

I am starting at a new school this year, and since I have yet to see my new classroom, I do not have a current bulletin board to show you (don't worry, we don't go back for another month!)   So what am I going to talk about today if I don't have a beautiful bulletin board to show you?  

Well, the idea of setting up my third classroom in seven years has me in a bit of panic.  This is only because of the last two classrooms I inherited.  My previous two classrooms were passed on to me by two amazing, veteran teachers.  Both had been in that specific classroom for nearly thirty years before retiring.  This meant that I inherited a wealth of great teaching juju, but also a very old classroom that had not been updated in a VERY long time.  The carpets were stained, the cabinets were chipped (if painted at all), the linoleum floors were peeling up on the corners, and the bulletin boards (if you could even call them that!) made you want to close your eyes and back away.

Today I want to show you how to breathe life back into those old chalkboards & cork boards. You know the ones I mean... the chalkboard is covered in tape residue and permanent marker, the cork board boasts 8 different shades from fade marks, and is littered with staples! Let me present you with Exhibit A:

Now, I know it's hard to look past the stacks boxes, the dilapidated bookshelves, and the orange fabric walls, but I really want you to focus on the space that was claiming to my "bulletin board."  This particular "bulletin board" was actually three separate panels.  Two of these were magnetic chalkboards, and the one to the far right (underneath the ghastly green paper) was a cork board.

When I first looked at this wall my stomach dropped, my shoulders lifted towards my ears, I closed my eyes and shuddered.  It was appalling!  How was I supposed to create bulletin board eye candy with this thing?!?  I wanted to cry!

Well, I didn't cry.  Instead I went to the hardware store and purchased the following items:  (If you inherit a board that looks similar to this, take this down!)

  • Goo Gone Pro Power Spray Gel
  • Latex Cleaning Gloves
  • 1-1/2 Inch Razor Scraper
  • 2 Inch Angled Paint Brush
  • Foam Mini Rollers
  • Min Roller Fram
  • Small Paint Tray
  • Small Can of Chalkboard Paint
Don't worry, if you scroll down I have included pictures of each of these to help you shop effectively!     Now, I must warn you, the magic that can happen to bulletin boards like this one is not a quick process, but it is definitely worth it!  Let's break the process down, shall we?


I know it's a pain, but get as much of the tape off of the surface as you can.  If you are working with a corkboard, be sure to remove ALL of the staples.  I personally LOVE my staple remover!  It doesn't hurt my hands, and it's strong enough to get out the BIG ones left by staple guns!


This stuff is AMAZING! If you haven't used it before, it pretty much does exactly what it says: Spray it, and your Goo is Gone!
For your CHALKBOARDS you are going to want to spray this generously over any area that has tape residue or any other unidentified yuckiness that has attached itself to your board.  (For Cork boards you can skip this step, and the next).  Let this sit for at least an hour!  This will help it soak in and loosen up that nasty gunk that is uglying up your board!  Also, make sure to open a window or two, because this stuff doesn't smell like roses!


Once the Goo Gone has done it's job, now it's time to start scraping.  I love my Stanley Razor Scraper.  I use it on pretty much everything at the end of the year when I'm cleaning up!  It's perfect for getting that adhesive off of desks and tables, removing labels from cubbies, and caked on gunk around the sink area.

To scrape effectively AND safely, tilt your razor at about a 45 degree angle and press down and away from you.  Clean off the blade with a wet washcloth ever few passes, because the stuff starts to come off quickly!

Make sure that while you are scraping, you are wearing Latex Gloves.  Goo Gone is not something that you want touching your lovely skin!  Be sure to cover up!


Now that your board (either cork or chalk) is clean, you get to start the fun part!  It's time paint!  You need to start by edging in the board.  This means taking an angled brush, and only trimming in the edges (like outlining).  You want to create about a 2 inch border with your paint.  This way, when you roll, you don't have to worry about getting to the edges with a fat roller!

Rust-Oleum is currently my favorite chalkboard paint.  It's in my price range, it goes on smooth, and it doesn't chip easily.  Also, it's readily available at most hardware stores.

If you are new to painting and worried about not being able to color within the lines, don't worry!  That's what painter's tape is for.  When you are purchasing your brush and paint, just grab a roll and create a nice safety edge for yourself before you get started.


Now that you've edged it in, you are free to roll.  I HIGHLY recommend using a foam roller.  This will give you a much smoother surface than a regular roller nap.  You can easily find a rolling kit that comes with a foam roller.  You will likely want a mini-roller, as you are not painting a whole wall, and the smaller the roller, the more precise you can be.  A 4-6 Inch roller should suit you just fine!

Wait at a few hours between coats.  Even though it may feel dry to the touch after an hour, give it a bit longer to set and dry all of the way through.

Since you will need to do more than one coat (dark colors almost always need at least two coats to fully cover) I suggest grabbing some extra rollers.  You DO NOT want to reuse these rollers.  Although sometimes you can get away with putting a plastic bag over rollers when using latex paint on your walls, you don't want to do that here.  Any little dried crumb of paint will adhere to your otherwise smooth surface and will stick out like a sore thumb!  Grab a new roller with each coat! (Don't forget, a new coat means edging again too!)

Let's take a look again at the old boards before the transformation:

And after the scraping and painting (don't mind the green... I was trying out paint chip walls!)

See how much the bulletin board stands out now?  It can now be a focus point of the wall, rather than something you wish would just disappear.  The best part about black boards?  Everything stands out on them!

This was my Visual Math Word Wall last year, and as you can see, all I have up is white card stock... but it doesn't matter because the colors pop on the black background.  No need for backing student work anymore! It stands out on its own (of course you still can if you REALLY want to!)

Well, I hope you found this little tutorial helpful! Please hop on over to all of the other blogs that are linking up today to get more helpful tips for setting up your classroom bulletin boards. Thank you for stopping by!


  1. I absolutely love your attitude, and many people WOULD cry if given that classroom :) I love how you made your bulletin boards really POP and you created such a fresh learning environment for you students! Wishing you an amazing school year at your new school!

    Momma with a Teaching Mission

  2. You have the best designers eye! Thank you for all the tips!!

  3. Such great tips!!! :) Nice work on that wall!!

  4. I love your remodel! Thanks for providing the steps in such a clear manner! So bright and colorful now!!

    The Whimsical Teacher

  5. Wow!! I would never have guessed that your after picture was the same classroom as the before picture. You did an AMAZING job transforming it! I love how your math words pop on that board!

    The Cutesy Teacher

  6. Wow! The transformation is nothing short of a miracle! Way to go!

  7. Wow!!! At first glance, that wall looked there was no hope! I love hope wonderful it looks. The contrasting green and blue look so nice.


  8. I know this is old but I'm desperately searching for someone with experience before I attempt to paint the hideous blue chalkboard on my new classroom.... did your chalkboard still hold magnets well after painting?