When we redecorated Caroline’s bedroom, we decided to include a chalkboard wall. She’s creative and we knew she would have lots of fun with it. Well, this decision to put a chalkboard wall in a kid’s bedroom took a few twists and turns we did not expect. I didn’t anticipate I would be writing an entire post about this or I would have taken more photos and so on. But what we learned is really important and I want this post out there for other parents to find and learn from our experience. Hence two posts – a post about decorating a tween girl’s bedroom and a post about chalkboard walls.
Painting a Chalkboard Wall
We selected a wall that would be large enough for Caroline to enjoy using as a chalkboard, but wouldn’t take over too much of her room. This one was perfect. David cut in around the corner with the new color and taped it off.
We selected Rust-Oelum Chalkboard Paint in black.
He started cutting in and things seemed to be going pretty well.
Until they weren’t. This is the first coat. Big problem. What caused the big problem? He used the wrong kind of roller. Technically, it wasn’t wrong. He used a standard 3/8 inch roller which should have worked. But it didn’t. It was pulling up the paint and making a huge mess.
But a foam roller apparently works better so we got a foam roller for the second coat. He smoothed out a few spots and put on the second coat with a foam roller. The final result was a thing of beauty!
Next up was priming the chalkboard wall. You rub a side of white chalk all over the wall. If you don’t do this, whatever you write on there the first time will stick.
After you rub all over, you remove it with a dry cloth.
Then you discover that putting a chalkboard wall in a bedroom isn’t a good idea for all kids.
Chalk Dust Allergy and Milk Allergy
We thought Caroline had come down with another cold. Actually, first we thought seasonal allergies since we know she is allergic to some trees and the pollen was heavy. But she was really congested and a mess. So then we assumed it was a cold. But she wasn’t getting any better.
I wondered to myself for a day or two if it might possibly be related to the chalk. We had purchased dustless chalk, but there is no way to have no chalk particles in the air. I did some poking around online and discovered chalk allergy is a thing, especially for kids who have milk allergies. It is related to the casein used in dustless chalk that is also found in milk.
I didn’t think it was an allergy, but she was probably irritated by all the chalk dust in her bedroom. She spends a fairly large part of her day there since we homeschool, it’s her favorite place to be, and she sleeps there.
I mentioned the possibility the chalk was making her sick when she wasn’t getting any better after the fifth day and she readily agreed to get it all out of her room ASAP. So we removed all the chalk and wiped down everything that had any chalk dust on it. We ran our air purifier in the room for a bit.
Within 24 hours she was markedly better and within 48 hours her terrible congestion was gone.
Chalk dust is an irritant and some people are very sensitive to it. Because Caroline has always been homeschooled and we’ve used chalk minimally, we had no idea she would respond so negatively to it.
Someone might suggest using chalkboard markers like you see at coffee shops. Those aren’t an option because they are only for non-porous surfaces. The chalkboard marker packaging specifically says they are not for use on walls.
In the end, we opted to keep the wall since we liked the way it looked. As I mentioned in my post about decorating her room, we added a magnetic dry erase board and she can use the rest of the wall to display her artwork in the months to come.
The Danger of Chalkboard Walls in the Home
Even people who wouldn’t put a chalkboard wall in their kid’s bedroom might want to think twice before adding it to a homeschool room or playroom. I had no idea this would be an issue. I knew it would make a bit of a mess and I was fine with that because I knew my daughter would get a lot of enjoyment out of the wall. But it never entered my mind the dustless chalk would literally make her sick.