What are chalkboards?

plain chalkboard hung on a wall for family notes and reminders

Chalkboards are a proven method of increasing profitability, adapting to change and assisting your customers. Chalkboards are the definitie choice for hospitality businesses and consumers alike.

People enjoy using chalkboards over whiteboards. Why? They offer superior presentation than inks, with greater capabilities. And they do this for less than half the cost.

Majisign chalkboards include a finish that resists ghosting, not found on other products in the market. They’re suitable for exterior use, for use with gypsum, paints and chalkpens. Plus, they’re easy to find in a variety of shapes and sizes.

What are chalkboards?

Chalkboards are wooden boards finished with a special paint that allows for messages and illustrations to be drawn with chalk.

chalkboards are veristile with many uses, including list making, advertising and promotions, information signage, quizes and games, teaching and more. 

They are often rectangular in shape and black in appearance. High-quality chalkboards allow for the chalk to be removed easily, so are reusable. They are most popular in the hospitality industry and make useful displays in domestic kitchens or as home decorations.

four small framed chalkboard wall display
blank chalkboard unframed blackboard 2
bistro a board plain chalkboard

The first attested use of a blackboard goes right back to 1801! You’re probably familar with them from your childhood school. Just like teachers, many businesses have needs to write important information and change the message often. A chalkboard is a cost-effective way to communicate messages instead of using printed products such as posters, purpose-made signs or digital displays.

How do chalkboards work?

Just like writing on paper, you just need some chalk! As you write or draw, the chalk leaves a residue (the equivalent of ink). It is that simple.

We use the term “chalk” to mean any suitable product made for writing on chalkboards. Chalk isn’t always made from chalk! 

Traditionally, cheap gypsum-based chalks yield good results and are usually the cheapest form of chalk available. It can be quite dusty to use and makes cleaning a little messy. Most drawing and writing chalk sticks are chemically very similar.

Vibrant chalk pastels can be eye-catching. They are mixed with clay and can be more durable than regular chalk.

Finally, chalk pens can be purchased. These contain a specialised ink that is applied through a traditional felt nib.

Our recommendation would be to use the medium that feels most comfortable. If you’re just starting out, consider using chalk pens. Chalkboard pens have a felt nib that can feel more natural to use. If you use an artist, they will have their own preference – and can potentially paint your design!

Top tip!

If you’re wanting to communciate in a specific style, you need to have the artistic flair to accomplish your finished design. For many this isn’t possible, so people ask Majisign to help. Majisign are able to print directly onto a chalkboard, meaning that any look can be achieved! the process is similar to designing a poster on your computer. We are even able to mimic the look of chalk!

Below, a close-up of white printing on a chalkboard

closeup of white printed ink to look like handwriting

What is ghosting?

Some blackboards and chalkboards suffer from “ghosting”. Ghosting occurs when old chalk or chalkpen ink absorbs into the black of the board, making it impossible to remove. Often the colour of the old application can be removed, leaving a different shade of black behind. Majisign’s superior chalkboard coatings are resistant to ghosting.

The theory is that applying a modern gypsum to a chalkboard or blackboard means that the material sits on top of the finish, with a light adhesion. When wiped away, either dust is formed and exhausted into the atmosphere or the eraser absorbs the material into an appropriate fabric. Whilst in most scenarios a modern white (i.e. uncoloured) gypsum would not mix with a painted surface, the liklihood is amplified when coloured pigments are added, as they are often oil-based. Pastels and some chalkpens can leave ghost marks far more quickly, often in a matter of hours once they are fully hardened.

The downside of ghosting is that when the existing message or picture is erased, dark lines remain, which can be distracting when creating the new artwork. This is why Majisign’s blackboard finish is superior, as there is no need to recoat existing blackboard surfaces with commonly sourced blackboard paint.

Below, an example of ghosting, slightly amplified by light for demonstration here:

ghosting effect with chalk and chalkboards

Pros and cons of chalkboards

There are pros and cons to consider when looking into chalkboards for handling of your needs. Here’s an honest look at the benefits and drawbacks of chalkboards:

Benefits of chalkboards

  • Often cheaper than dry-wipe or whiteboard products – Compared to the lifespan of a whiteboard, the costs of dry-wipte pens or alternative printed signage. Many people have realised that the chalkboard is resilient, especially ourdoors.
  • The traditional look can be extremey desirable – chalkboard aren’t only for pubs, bar and resturants. The natural look of a chalkboard (especially when framed in wood) can be complimentory to the environment, when a softer, natural style is required.
  • Easy to wipe and start-over – usually a damp cloth is all that is needed. Chalkpen can be removed with household cleaners. A high quality finish will not leave any residue.
  • Chalk is cheap and available in many colours – compared to dry-wipte pens, gypsum is far cheaper.
  • Easy to amend if a mistake is made or a change required – versues printed media, the ability to change a spelling mistake or a product’s price can be advantageous.
  • More natural products are used (wood and chalk) than whiteboards or printing
  • Can be repainted if the finish wears over time

Downsides of chalkboards

  • Can be messy, if gypsum is used – especially when removing the chalk with a traditional duster!
  • The quality of the finish can vary – it’s critical to use a manufacturer that uses a specialised, fit-for-purpose finish. 
  • Small writing or drawing can lose fidelity (moreso with chalk than a chalkpen). Digital printing uses “dots per inch” to indicate how detailed the finished design can be. When using chalk this is lost, so writing small can be hard to do.
  • May require artistic skill – Depending on your skill, the message may not be as clear as you’d like
  • Handwritten or drawn information doesn’t fit with your brand or style – sometimes metal and glossy finishes fit better that wood and hand-finished items. And that’s ok (have a browse of our site for more suited products)

How much do chalkboards cost?

Buying a Majisign chalkboard is surprisingly inexpensive when you consider the service available. The short answer is that you should expect to pay a fair price when comparing the cost to other products in the market. Majisign includes:

  • A high-quality, UK made chalkboard
  • Free graphic design service, if you require your logo or permanent design to be printed
  • Free product design service, if you need a bespoke size, shape or product (e.g. a product that uses a chalkboard, such as a table talker). This also includes engineering and material costing, if your #1 priority is to produce a product to a specific budget.
  • Competitive pricing for high-quantity orders

Need a chalkboard? Call 01284 724980

Do I need DIY skills for fixing a chalkboard?

Chalkboards can be hung from a wall much like a general picture. They are reasonably lightweight since they are often made from MDF.

Chalkboards often need to be removed from the wall, since this is the safest way to rewrite a message. Whilst it’s possible to climb a ladder or use a suitable footing, you must always be safe. We generally recommend using d-rings, since these can loop over screw-like fixings and remain flush to the wall.

Chalkboards can be screwed to the wall. Regular picture hanging brackets can be used as an alternative, as long as they can support the total shear weight.

Ultimately, you need to know two things; the weight of the board and the wall type. Majisign can recommend the most appropriate fitting type.

A popular alternative to hanging a chalkboard is to use it with an easel stand. The easel stand is a sturdy tripod, that includes a horizontal holder. The stand can be unfolded, catches applied, then the chalkboard can rest at an angle. This solution is useful when needing to present information in the middle of open spaces, at entrances or on stages.

For smaller chalkboards, wooden block holders can be used to anchor your chalkboard on a counter, bar or table-top. These wooden blocks are a simple solution to holding small chalkboards.

Below, a cafe in Bury St. Edmunds has hung 3 slatted boards together to display their drinks, ice cream and food menus.

trio of chalkboard slatted boards for a cafe menu