How To Preserve your Chalkboard Drawings

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Preserve all your hard work and make your chalkboard chalk drawings permanent!

Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

I am kind of ridiculously excited about today’s post, friends. I did a ton of research and experimentation on this and I’m so happy with the results. It answers a question that I think a lot of people have but there just wasn’t a good definitive answer out there…until now!ย  And that question is, “Cassie, I spent a ton of time on this chalkboard drawing that I have hanging in my kitchen and I would be heartbroken if someone smudged it or erased it and I had to start over, is there any way to preserve it and make it permanent? Well yes! Now there is!

Chalkboards have been trendy for quite a while now and I personally don’t see them going anywhere soon precisely because they’re flexible and fun and you can change them up. Which might kind of make you wonder why this post is even necessary if the whole point of chalkboards is that you can erase them. Well, imagine you made a chalkboard seating chart for your wedding and you spent hours and hours on it and you want to save it as a memento. Or suppose you made one of these cute 4th of July chalkboard stars; it’s star shaped and has red, white, and blue accents, I think the likelihood that I’ll ever want to write anything besides, “Happy 4th of July” on it are fairly low. Or even something like my front door welcome chalkboard. It turned out super cute and I don’t really want to redo it.

Well, you say, “Why don’t you just use one of those chalk markers, Cass?” (You can call me Cass, we’re friends!) Ugh. Well, the answer is that while they don’t smudge off, they also DON’T LOOK LIKE CHALK. I mean besides being white. They don’t have the same texture as real chalk at all. So they’re fine if you like them, but it’s a different look. And it’s not chalky.

So, here’s what I tried and tested and what I came up with to preserve and protect those beautiful chalkboard drawings you spent hours on! Let me know if you try it!

Preserve and Protect your Chalkboard Chalk Drawings

I knew I definitely wanted to use some kind of spray because anything you brush onto a surface would surely disturb and smudge your hard work. So I bought or got out the following things to try:

Workable Fixatif

Acrylic Clear Coat

Mod Podge Matte

Hairspray

(Cute mini chalkboards available here.)

Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

And the results were surprising!

I could go on about this for an hour but I’ll try to keep it brief.

First up was the workable fixative which is what we used in art class in college. It protects drawings from smudging too much but you can still draw on top of it. Unfortunately, while it reduced chalk smudging, it still smudged. So I kept going.Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

Next I tried the Acrylic Clear Coat. Disaster. Avoid. It ate away at the chalk AND made the chalkboard shiny. No thank you.Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

Moving on, matte spray Mod Podge? How did I not know such a thing existed?! My main objection to Mod Podge has always been the brush strokes so a spray formula is awesome. I will definitely be using this for other projects in the future. That being said, it was ok, but it left the chalk spotty and it also smudged. Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.comAnd the winner, ding ding ding! Hairspray! I thought of trying this when I remembered that we would sometimes use hairspray on drawings in college when we ran out of fixative. And hairspray has the added bonus of being cheap, something you might already have at home and it’s not toxic so you can spray it inside! Want to know how to make your chalk drawings permanent? Ok, here’s how you do it…

First, it’s important to know that not all hairspray is created equal. I tried several different brands. This one was my favorite but I also had success with Pantene Alcohol Free “Air Spray”.ย  However this was a disaster.

So, I believe that your hairspray needs to be:

-Aerosol

-The first or second ingredient should be water, not alcohol. Alcohol free is great.

-Free of silicones (that includes ingredients like dimethicone or trimethicone)

*I obviously didn’t try every brand of hairspray out there but this is my best guess as to what made the good ones work. If you’re using a different brand, try it out on a sample drawing first! *

To make your chalk drawings permanent, lay your chalkboard out and carefully spray with a THIN even coat of hairspray from AT LEAST 10 inches away. Make sure you entirely cover the surface.ย The aerosol is important because it sprays small even droplets. A pump bottle will be less even and more likely to drip or leave marks. You really really really don’t want drips or big droplets.

Secondly, DON’T PANIC at first. It will probably look like the chalk is disappearing because the hairspray makes it wet. But seriously, don’t freak out.Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

Wait 10-15 minutes for the hairspray to fully dry and during that time, do not touch your chalkboard. You’ll be amazed to see your drawing re-appear as the hairspray dries!Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

When the hairspray is completely dry, your drawing is protected.

Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

However with all of the methods that I tried, the sprays pretty much obliterated the whitish smudgy background that we all love about chalkboards. So to bring that back, rub the side of a piece of chalk all over your chalkboard and rub it in with a tissue. That will give the background that nice chalky smudgy texture but it won’t disturb your original drawing.Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

And that’s it! You’re done!

Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! | littleredwindow.com

What if you want part of your drawing protected and part of it erase-able? Draw the permanent part first, follow this method to protect it and then proceed to draw on the rest of the chalkboard like you usually would right on top of the hairspray! That part will still erase like normal!

(A note, if anyone’s curious since we’re using a water-based hairspray, I tried wiping it off with a damp rag. With a bit of vigorous scrubbing, the drawing was fainter but it did not come off, so this method is not easily reversible.)

If you liked this, you may also like some of my other posts…

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29 thoughts on “How To Preserve your Chalkboard Drawings

  1. This is so cool! I have this portrait I drew with chalk on black chart paper. Do you think it’s safe to try this on it too?

    1. Hi Neha! I haven’t tried it on paper. When I was in college we used “Workable Fixatif” for chalk and charcoal drawings on paper, it’s specifically designed to use that way. It doesn’t make drawings 100% permanent but it does really reduce smudging. Although for anything that you really care about I would do a test first!! Good luck!

  2. AH! Thank you so much for this!! I just drew 8 canvas chalkboards for my brother’s wedding and it’s 3 hours away! I have been envisioning having to redraw all of them once I got there but I’ll definitely give this a go! Hopefully it works… or I shall weep haha!

      1. So I tried it out and it worked perfectly! I can’t believe it! Thanks for doing all those tests so that I could glean from your amazing wisdom! Cheers!

  3. This is perfect! Any thoughts on how it would work using the Chalk Markers as opposed to regular chalk? I would assume the same, but I’ll be testing this out for sure!

    1. That’s a great question, I haven’t tried it! It’s my understanding chalk markers are much less smear-y to begin with (is that a word?) so I would think it would work. It would also be good if you wanted to make a smudgy chalkboard background underneath the chalk marker drawing. But if you try it, please come back and let me know how it goes!! Thanks for stopping by!

    2. So SAD to say the hairspray did not work on Chalk Markers :'( When I tried it, the chalk marker looked like it was bleeding a bit and it did NOT make it permanent. I was able to wipe it away with a damp cloth easily. I still want the clean, marker look so I might try paint markers next. Any other suggestions would be great?! Thanks for sharing though and I will definitely use this technique when using regular chalk!

      1. Well, that’s a bummer, but I appreciate you reporting back! This is very helpful! I personally don’t love chalk markers for chalk art because they don’t actually look like chalk and if you’re wanting a permanent drawing that doesn’t look like chalk anyway, you might as well go with a paint marker. You could rub chalk dust over the top when you’re finished to give it more of a chalky look!

  4. Omigosh…..I wish I had searched for this post earlier today. I panicked when the chalk turned wet from the spray and thought I had to start all over! (I erased everything….boo!!) Thanks for this tip, though!

    1. Oh, I can totally relate! I freaked out when that happened to me too! And then I left the room and when I came back later, assuming I’d have to start over, it looked fine again! It’s magic! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Good luck!

  5. Hello! My girlfriend made me a chalkboard sign for my little one first birthday out of liquid chalk. What can I use to save it?

    1. Hi! I haven’t tested this method with liquid chalk/chalk markers yet so I can’t recommend anything right now. I think I’ll have to do some more testing and write another post about that though, that’s a good idea!

    2. I tried it on my sons big wheel. We drew some designs on it and it smudged off. I read this article and sprayed hair spray on it and it no longer smudges!! It’s a miracle!! ;P

  6. Thank you for this! Love the experimentation so that I don’t have to. Does the hairspray wash off? I have a chalkboard in my classroom that I want to set so that students can’t mess it up, but I don’t want to ruin the board.

  7. Ok, so I did a chalkboard before I read this and I used aquanet hairspray. It covered my board with small spots all over and they won’t come out! This project took a very long time (big board!) do you have any idea how to salvage it? I had read about hair spray…..but, it said I could use any kind! Help, please!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that! This is why I tried a few different brands in my test. But if, despite the spots, the drawing is pretty well smudge proofed in the areas that you sprayed, I would rub a little chalk all over the background and then retrace the drawing and that would hopefully cover the spots.

      However, if it is still smudging despite the aquanet, then skip rubbing chalk over the background and just retrace the drawing first, then re-spray it with a different spray, and THEN re-smudge the background. (But please please please do this entire process on either a test board or a small area of the big one to make sure it works first!!) I wish there was some other faster magical fix for you, I hope this helps! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I’d like to temporarily set my chalk art, but would like for it not to be completely permanent, in case I want to wash it off and do something new. Sounds like hairspray is permanent? Do you know of anything else I could use? Thank you!

  9. Thank you so much for posting this. I have been wanting to do a chalkboard for my son, but hated that thought of him rubbing against it. I know they take a lot of time. I’ll send you a picture when it’s done if you like.

  10. trying this out for a chalkboard I made for a proposal. The chalk faded using the hairspray. Can you think of a reason why? thanks!

    1. Which brand of hairspray did you use? It could be that you sprayed it on a little too thickly maybe. Mine also faded right when I sprayed it on, but that went away after it had dried for a while (like half an hour). If that didn’t happen, I would either try a different brand, one of the two specific ones I recommend worked for me, or just trace over the drawing again and then spray it more lightly. Good luck!

  11. Thank you for this information. I love the experimental phase and agree on the testing first business. I almost always do it and am happier for it. By the way, I only had two brands of hairspray handy. Their ingredients were almost identical and both included alcohol. Both worked equally as well and I was able to repeat coats several times as long as I kept my 12″ distance and had my pieces, 3โ€ x 4″ on watercolor paper, in a vertical position. Thanks again.

  12. My grands drew cute faces with sidewalk chalk on my plastic flower pots! I would love to preserve them. Which do you think would work best?

    1. I have no idea! I guess my only concern is that shoes are subjected to a lot more wear than a chalkboard. So I really don’t know. The only way to find out is to try it! You could get a scrap piece of canvas to test on first and see if that works. I’d love to know what you find out!

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