One of the many applications for vinyl is as a flexible, movable chalkboard. As more people discover adhesive backed vinyl as an interior décor option, interest grows in using it as a flexible, removable chalkboard wall covering in homes, nurseries, schools, bars, and restaurants. What vinyls are suitable for this application and how do they differ? What wall surfaces are suitable and what are the possible concerns regarding paint and removal? We're glad you asked. Have a seat. Sign College is now in session.

ChalkBoard Vinyl Options

There are actually quite a few options in chalkboard or blackboard vinyl. SignWarehouse stocks 4 or 5 of them, some purpose-made for chalk and others that can be adapted for this use. Here's a brief overview of each.

Endura Chalkboard Vinyl: Endura Chalkboard vinyl is the newest addition to the product line. At only 2.5 - 3 mil thick, it's thinner than some branded chalkboard vinyls, so it can be easily plotter-cut with a standard 45° blade.
Fig 1: For application on textured surfaces, some special tools and a little patience may be required.
Fig 1: For application on textured surfaces, some special tools and a little patience may be required.

This is a black film with a finely grained surface that gives it the look, if not the feel, of a chalkboard. It has a very stiff face film somewhat like ORACAL 651, so it's ridiculously easy to weed. It has a removable adhesive so it can be safely applied to most painted wall surfaces and and removed with no adhesive residue or damage to painted surfaces. Since it's a 3 mil film, you'll need to use transfer tape. EnduraMASK MHT 130 is an excellent choice for this and other removable wall vinyl applications. Application on 'knockdown' textured surfaces may require some squeegee finesse and a little patience. A soft roller tool like the one seen in Fig 1 helps push the vinyl into the texture for a more successful application. Application on flat, smooth surfaces will be simpler and faster. Endura Chalkboard vinyl comes in 24" wide by one, ten, and 50 yard rolls. Prices start at just $8.79.

R-Tape Chalk Talk: Chalk Talk doesn't really belong on a list of chalkboard vinyl options because, technically, it's not vinyl. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not a vinyl because they made it without PVC. That means it's fully CPSIA compliant and totally safe for use in areas where little kids might decide they need to know if it tastes better than strained peas. To make it more interior décor friendly, it also features a removable adhesive, so you can leave it up for a year or so, then move or remove it without damaging the paint. And since it's six mil thick, you can actually remove and re-position it by hand without worrying about stretching the face film. Since it's a 6 mil film, ChalkTalk requires a 60° plotter blade. It's available in 24" by ten yard and 50 yard rolls. Prices start at $67.15

EnduraMATTE: All of the purpose-made chalkboard vinyls are outstanding in their own way, but they all have one potential limitation. They're all black or gray. What if you want a green chalkboard? Or light gray? Or Purple? You creative right-brain types will want to consider the EnduraMATTE option. EnduraMATTE is a 3 mil vinyl with a matte finish and removable adhesive. It doesn't have a textured surface, but does come in 22 matte colors, including Black, Green and Grey. And Pink and Mint and Coral. Wouldn't that look cool in your kids' bedroom? Cut EnduraMATTE with a standard 45° blade and mask with EnduraMASK MHT 130 transfer tape. EnduraMATTE also has the advantage of a wider array of roll sizes. It's available in 8", 12", and 24" wide rolls in roll lengths from one to 50 yards. 8" x 10 yard rolls are only $8.59, and 24" x 1 yard rolls start at a measly $3.29.

    Chalk Vs. Chalk Ink Markers
    Fig 2: Bistro chalk markers can be removed from Endura Chalkboard vinyl with a damp cloth.
    Fig 2: Bistro and Zig Posterman chalk markers can be easily removed from Endura Chalkboard vinyl with a damp cloth.

    Chalk or chalk ink markers? There are advantages to both. Colored chalk is very affordable and erases easily. However, chalk is a hard substance and repeated use can scratch the vinyl. If you write and erase a lot, you may have to replace the vinyl to restore the clean black or gray substrate with which you started. Chalk ink markers don't have this problem. They won't scratch the vinyl. And the colors are much more vivid, so your graphics will be more visible. This is especially important if your application is a commercial one that needs to be as visible and legible as possible. The downside is, they're not as erasable. You may find that they leave ghosting on the vinyl. And different brands use different chemicals, so they're not equally suited for this application.

    Magic Erasers have been used to remove chalk ink markers successfully and have been tested with Endura Chalkboard vinyl. Depending on the brand, or the product, the chalk ink may be permanent. Pentel chalk ink markers use solvents that don't remove cleanly from some brands of chalkboard vinyl. We tested Endura Chalkboard vinyl with two brands of chalk markers available at our local 'big box' craft store. We chose some fluorescent Bistro Chalk markers and a pack of Zig 6mm Posterman chalk markers. Both worked great and wiped off cleanly with a damp cloth or a Magic Eraser pad (Fig 2). We've also done testing in the past with the original "Chalk Ink Markers" available online. If you don't have access to any of these, test your markers with your choice of vinyl before committing to production.

    So if you're looking for a more versatile alternative to a wall-mounted chalkboard in your restaurant, daycare center, school, or home, one of our chalkboard vinyl products may be the perfect solution. Maybe you'd just like to try something new in wall décor, and would like something writable. Turn that empty wall space into a message board full of colorful communication. Whether you want something permanent, removable, or even repositionable, we've got your vinyl - or CPSIA-compliant non-vinyl if that's your preference. We've got them in traditional black, gray, green, or even Matte Mint.