How to Make a Simple Chalkboard Tray You’ll Love For Your Home

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Last Updated on November 7, 2023 by Katherine

Charcuterie boards are a popular item for entertaining these days and some of the best arrangements typically include a chalkboard tray. The best part about these trays is you can help your guests easily identify what cheese, meats or other food are on the tray by labeling each with some chalk! 

Charcuterie has gained popularity recently to display meats and cheeses (and you can totally try other foods on these boards too!). I see it often where I live as I live in a wine-growing region of Canada (Okanagan Valley, to be specific) and wine is typically the alcoholic drink you would choose to go with your charcuterie arrangement. If you’d like to know more about the history of this type of food serving, I highly recommend reading Why is Charcuterie so Popular – Origin & History from the Eat Cured Meat blog.

Charcuterie boards are increasingly popular these days, a chalkboard tray can help yours guests decide which delicious morsel they'd like to try!

Today we are going to make a chalkboard tray that will be perfect for your next gathering to display a variety of delicious cheeses and meats for your guests (or whatever you’d like to show off). The stain I’ve chosen will lend itself well to anyone who likes a rustic style in their home. Ready to get started? Let’s go!

What You Will Need:

To make a chalkboard tray, you don't need a lot to get started!
  • Unfinished wooden tray (or a tray-sized slab of wood);
  • Wood stain (I used Valspar Gel Stain in Dark Walnut)
  • Paint brush;
  • Cloth (for wiping off excess stain);
  • Drop cloth (or you can use a large garbage bag);
  • Chalkboard Paint (I chose Rust-oleum Specialty Chalk Board); and,
  • Sandpaper.

You can find most of these items at your local hardware store or big box stores like Walmart. I found my wooden tray at my local dollar store. If you use a wooden slab for your tray, you can add handles by snagging a few cupboard pulls at your local hardware store. As usual, I have a lot of these items hanging around because of my crafting habit, but you can probably buy everything for around $20.

Prep Your Tray

I recommend running a coarse sandpaper over your tray, as it will help the stain soak into your wood better. Also, if you like a slightly more rustic look, you can’t go wrong with making your wooden tray a bit more rough around the edges!

Staining Your Tray

After sanding for a bit (you don’t need to go nuts), you can break out your wood stain. Begin by applying the stain in even strokes on your tray. I recommend you paint in the same direction for the best results.

Wood stain is different from painting because the product should "soak" into the wood rather than coat the surface!

Use your cloth to wipe away excess stain after letting it soak for a minute or two. 

Slowly but surely, your chalkboard tray will start to look delightfully rustic as you apply the stain all over!

If needed, apply more coats until your tray has the look you want. Then you’ll want to let your tray dry for at least six hours. Read the instructions on your wood stain for specific drying times.

Once your wood stain is dry, it's time to move onto getting that chalkboard paint put on!

Chalkboard Paint time

Once your stain is dry, prep the area you want to paint with your blackboard paint by making a border with painter’s tape. If you are thinking about sealing at least the wooden part of your tray, I recommend doing that before you add the chalkboard paint. No glossy finishes, though. They can make it hard for the chalkboard paint to stick onto your tray!

Once the stain has dried on your tray, it's time to tape off the surface so you get a nice border with your chalkboard paint!

Because my paint was the spray on, I taped over the whole edge of my tray just to prevent any stray spray. You can find paint on types of blackboard paint, so if that’s what you have, you can get away with just a line of tape.

How you apply the chalkboard paint will vary depending on the product, but you may need a few coats to get a nice writing surface!

The type of tray I have can rest flat when it’s upright or upside down, so I applied my chalkboard paint to the bottom of the tray. Then you’ll want to let the chalkboard paint dry, according to the instructions on your paint, in my case, about 24 hours for a full dry.

“Seasoning” Your Chalkboard

Once your chalkboard paint has dried, it's time to "season" your board so the chalkboard will erase properly!

Once the chalkboard paint has fully dried, you’re going to need to “season” your board. This is quite easy to do and will help erase future chalk marks. If you don’t season your chalkboard, the lines you draw on it will not erase properly.

All you need to do is to cover all the blackboard paint with chalk and erase! Your blackboard tray is now ready for your use!

If you are attaching handles (i.e.: drawer pulls), now would be the perfect time to do that and finish up.

Final Thoughts

I love how this chalkboard tray turned out and I cannot wait to put it on display at my next dinner party!

I love how this tray turned out, and I honestly cannot wait to use it. I originally planned to paint the chalkboard inside the tray, but when I had it turned upside down to paint the underside, inspiration hit me and I painted the bottom instead to have a raised tray!

The only thing I’d be careful of is placing your food right on the chalkboard. Because you cannot seal your work (not without losing the ability to write and erase your chalk marks), I’m uncertain there’s a food safe option. I recommend using a napkin or something similar to rest your food on, just to be on the safe side.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Please consider sharing this content on your favorite social media platform and be sure to pin this post to Pinterest to refer to later!

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That’s all for now. Stay crafty, my friends!!

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Fall Farmhouse Decor–9 Simple Ideas You’ll Love For Your Home

How to Decorate Your Front Porch In Time For Fall–8 Clever Ideas

7 Unique Rustic Home Decor Ideas That You Will Love

7 Easy Ways to Add Farmhouse Chic Style to Your Home

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