How To Preserve Chalkboard Drawings

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Protect all your hard work and preserve chalkboard drawings to make them permanent!

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

How To Preserve Chalkboard Drawings

Who wants to preserve chalkboard drawings and learn how to preserve chalk art? 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!

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 my chalkboard drawing and make it permanent?

Can I learn how to make chalk stay un-smudged? Well yes! Now there is!Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick!

Chalkboard drawings 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.

That might kind of make you wonder why this post on how to preserve chalkboard drawings 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.

What we want is to figure out how to how to seal chalk art and how to seal chalk writing!


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!

Protect and Preserve Chalkboard Drawings 

I knew I definitely wanted to use some kind of spray when I figured out how to preserve chalk art 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


(Cute mini chalkboards available here.)

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

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

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

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! |

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

And the results are in…here’s what to use to protect and preserve chalkboard drawings…

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”.  However this was a total 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. 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 of hairspray.

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! |

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 preserve chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! |

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

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

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

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

However with all of the methods that I tried, the protective sprays pretty much obliterated the whitish smudgy background that we all love about chalkboards.

To bring that smudgy background 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! | Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! |

And that’s it! You’re done!

How To Preserve Chalkboard Drawings

Learn how to save and preserve chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! |

What if you want to learn how to preserve chalk art but still have 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 immediately, so this method is not easily reversible.)

Yield: 1 preserved chalkboard drawing

How To Preserve Chalkboard Drawings

How To Preserve Chalkboard Drawings

Learn how to preserve and protect your chalkboard drawings and keep them from smudging!

Active Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $3


Tips & Tricks for preserving chalkboard drawings

  1. Do a test run with a mini chalkboard to make sure it works for youLearn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! |
  2. Make sure to choose an aerosol spray, not a pump
  3. The first ingredient of your spray should be water, not alcohol
  4. Spray according to directions, at least 6 inches away and with light even coats
  5. Don't panic if the chalk fades temporarily when it's wetLearn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! |
  6. If you want to enhance the smudgy background, wait until the spray is dry and then rub the side of a piece of chalk over the entire thing and smudge with a cloth or paper towel.Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! |
Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick! Learn how to save and protect your chalkboard drawings with this one simple trick!

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

small chalkboard no shoes sign small welcome_chalkboard_door_sign_06_littleredwindow small ABC_nursery_art_016_littleredwindow



57 thoughts on “How To Preserve Chalkboard Drawings

    1. I have never tried this! I guess I would be concerned that if the art is TOUCHING the glass it might stick. However if you can make sure there is air space between the glass and the artwork then it would probably be ok!

  1. Oh my goooodnesssss!!!! I was just talking about this chaulk project and my husband debunked the idea for the very reason you stated.

    Can I do this is the bathroom? Will the moisture of a hot hot shower kill it? Once I use the hairspray is it safe to seal with like a matte poly something?

    1. Hi! So these are two really great questions! I have not tried this either in a bathroom or with another method of sealer on top. I’d be a little nervous about both, but you’ll never know unless you try! Let me know when you do! (Try it with a tiny sample version first, not your nice artwork!) πŸ™‚

  2. Hi! I know this is way late but i saw this post when i was painting my fence with chalk. Just 2 questions: 1)wouldnt hairspray wash off? I am using it for an outdoor fence. 2) would it work if the fence is already upright instead of laid flat? Ty!

    1. I would not recommend this strategy for outdoor use. In fact, I would not recommend any chalk for permanent outdoor use. It’s just not going to work well no matter what. Chalk isn’t meant to be permanent even with this hack. Preserved chalk drawings would be fine for something that will be outside every once in a while but brought inside for rain, but a fence will just get too much wear and tear. But upright vs. flat would be totally fine, that wouldn’t matter. πŸ™‚

  3. I want to do a chalkboard backsplash with real chalk. I have read how to make it permanent with hairspray. Does this make it waterproof also? What if something was splattered on it, will I be able to wipe it off without removing my drawing? Could I paint over the hairspray with a polyacrylic to preserve?

  4. Hey Cass! Do you know how long this would survive the elements? I want to do a DIY outdoor chalkboard menu for my coffee kiosk (on a super tight budget and love DIY!). Or if anyone else has tried it for long term outdoor projects, how did it fare? Thanks!

  5. Will this work as a semi-permanent solution to keep the chalk from smudging? I am doing some food station signs for a client, but they will eventually want to erase and reuse the boards. TIA!

    1. Yes, it’s pretty permanent, if you read all the way to the bottom, I tried scrubbing it off with a wet rag and only some of it came off. What you could is make the “frame” around your signs protected with this method and then just use regular un-protected chalk for the food name and then that part could still be erased. Hope that helps!

  6. Tried the hairspray on my sign. Can I retrace over the letter when the hairspray is set to make it brighter and then respray?

  7. It actually works! Not only is it good on chalkboards, you can even use it on black construction paper. Just try not to over due it, because if you do, it’ll suck up the chalk and leave you blank, had to find out the hard way >.< . Luckily I had done it in pencil before, so all I did was redo it quick.

  8. I’m doing a chalkboard coffee table and I do a lot of chalkboard art, I’m was exited to find this blog and hope to use this hair spray procedure on it. Though where it’s going is a business where a lot of wear and tear will happen to it. I’m thinking I might even though I did the hair spray might have to buy glass to put over it. Any thoughts?

  9. I actually use Krylon Matte Finish and it works awesome! The only disappointment I have is that when it dries, the chalk isn’t as bright white as before I sprayed it. Does the hairspray have the same effect or does it dry brighter?

    1. I’m glad that worked! I will say that most sprays make the chalk a little bit less bright. Hairspray worked the best for me. You can add some highlights back over the top after it’s dry if you want. Those won’t be smudgeproof of course but it might help a bit!

  10. Thanks so much for all you hard work and persistence. This is exactly what I was looking for. Anxious to give it a try and see the amazing results. Thanks again.

  11. Hi Cass! Thank you so much! I decorated my cheap locker lock with colorful chalk and searched how to preserve the chalk. The surface of my lock have the same texture as a chalkboard so I was hoping it worked. It did! I’m so happy I have a cheap yet beautiful lock now. Love and hugs, Audrey.

    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!

  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?

  13. 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, 3” x 4″ on watercolor paper, in a vertical position. Thanks again.

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

  16. 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!

  17. 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! πŸ™‚

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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! πŸ˜‰ Good luck!

      1. Hi β€”after the hairspray overlay -can all of this be wiped off with an ammonia or alcohol based cleaner ( like windex) -so that the board can be reused for another project?

  21. 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!

      1. I use Chalk Markers all the time for my chalkboards and yes – this exact Hairspray is what I’ve found to work the best at sealing my drawings! It works just the same.

    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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

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