Chalkboards - counters? backsplash?

hunziNovember 13, 2013

Hey y'all! I'm not really ready to do my kitchen yet - I'm in the middle of working on bathrooms, but I just ran across a chance to buy EIGHT real slate chalkboards (42"x52-62") for only $25 bucks each!

First, - my dream kitchen is very classic white/black - heart pine floors, white cabinets & woodwork, soapstone counters, possibly with a butcher block island, and subway tile backsplash. Super traditional for our 1884 farmhouse (now in the city). We are extreme DIYers, and try to do as much for ourselves, on as little budget as possible without skimping on quality.

I had been planning on using soapstone for our counters, but if these chalkboards/slates would work well, I think I'd be crazy to pass up over 35 linear feet of countertop for $200.

So has anyone here worked with slate? anyone recycled chalkboards? can we fabricate them ourselves or do I need to run them to someone who can cut the stone/fab the counters? Would I save much if I did?

I may use part of it in our laundry room/basement bonus room first and see what we think of it.

FYI They are real black totally non veined slate slabs. My soapstone choices were also very black/ as veinless as possible (like the older "Cobra" stone - not sure what would be available when we are ready).

However, I don't know enough about slate! I know it's much harder - more porous?

If it's a poor choice for counters, I guess I could use it as a backsplash? - Not with soapstone, but maybe with butcherblock or marble to balance the black?

It seems like a good opportunity, but I want to know what folks think - am I crazy to snap these up, or crazy for not getting them?

I need to make a final decision in 24hrs! (Oh how I love having so much time to consider my options - *eye roll* )

Always ;-)

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robo (z6a)

Here is one helpful link:

Some pointers:
"Slate is usually ground to a matte finish with only mineral oil used to seal it, if you feel the need. But, you may need to buff it with a fine sanding attachment for your drill."

"So far I've learned a few things: You need to build up the counter to be as thick as a countertop by using a combo of MDF, concrete board and slate, all sandwiched together with flex mastic to make a 1.25 - 1.5 inch thick countertop. You'll also need a good diamond circular saw blade and some other stuff. Cutting the sink opening is by far the hardest part. For the front edge I am planning on cutting 1.25 inch wide strips of the slate and attaching them with marine grade adhesive."

"if you don't want to cut out a hole for the sink you could use an apron front sink...The tile-in version sits on the countertop substrate, so you could just butt the slate up to the side of the sink with a silicone caulk joint like you would tile."

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 11:12AM
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Great idea! How thick are they?
If not for counter tops, then definitely as backsplash.

Modern Kitchen by Seattle Architects & Designers Fivedot Design Build
Some links:
chalkboard counter tops

Here is a link that might be useful: recyled chalkboard

    Bookmark   November 13, 2013 at 12:08PM
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They are about 1/4 inch, maybe 3/8 thick. I would definitely put 3/4 plywood under so they had no flex/cracking issues.

I am going to go up to the school and pay for them in the morning. I think we'll try using a piece for the laundry room counter - if it works well, and I like it, we can use more for the kitchen- if not then I might use them for blacksplash or some other option, if not, then I'm only down about $25/slab and can probably resell the rest.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, the bathroom renos continue!

Always ;-)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 12:33AM
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Make sure to report back, with pictures.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 9:21AM
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    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:30AM
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My carpenter neighbor used old slate chalkboards as tile. Apparently the back side (the non-writing side ) is gorgeous.

Whatever you do with them, it sounds like FUN to me!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 1:16AM
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So... the latest trend in countertops is not the thick slab look, but the ethereal thin floating look shown in the image no posted. You may have to reinforce the slabs and laminate their edges, but don't feel the need to make them too thick, unless that's the look you like. Below is an image of a thin stainless steel counter by architect Jerome Buttrick.

Sounds like a great plan. Maybe karin_mt can weigh in on the stone properties.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 4:32AM
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I initially was looking at slate for my kitchen counters. It was so gorgeous. I love my marble, but might have enjoyed slate more because it is supposedly not as prone to staining, etching, etc. it is brittle though and the fabricator said it can crack easily.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 8:03AM
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Funny this should come up - I actually just purchased chalkboards to do the very same thing! I got about 50 linear feet of slate chalkboard (3/8" thick and 42" tall, I think) for about $50. There was a school a couple hours away that was being demolished that was auctioning off entire classrooms.

My kitchen renovation is still very far off, but I plan on treating the slate slabs as giant tiles - 3/4" plywood, then 1/4" cement board, then thinset mortar, then the slate. One of the chalkboards broke during removal, so I was going to use the broken pieces to experiment with edges and sanding and honing techniques. Epoxy mixed with slate dust from cutting should make the seams all but disappear completely.

As far as your immediate decision goes, though - DO IT! The chalkboards I got are absolutely gorgeous and I'm giddy with the possibilities. Of course my kids are having so much fun coloring on them with sidewalk chalk that the habit might be hard to break once they've been turned into counters :)

A couple of tips for transport. 1. Build a simple A-frame to put in your truck or trailer. Slate is strong but brittle. Transporting them nearly vertical will reduce the possibility of cracking in transit. We used an A-frame and drove 2.5 hours on both interstate and bumpy country highways without issue. 2. Bring some muscle! The sheets are thin but will probably weigh over 100 pounds each. I am pregnant and couldn't help my husband carry the chalkboards down two flights of stairs to the trailer, so he had to get help from the poor schmo that won the classroom next door to ours.

Good luck! I'm excited to see that somebody else has the same crazy idea as I had! And knowing our progress schedule, your kitchen will be done long before ours even starts, so I'll be able to learn from all your wisdom :)

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 2:02PM
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The slates are in the house now (currently leaning against the wall in my dining room). DH is busy with the laundry room renovation, and we'll experiment with the chalkboards in the laundry room. I need a counter over the washer & dryer, and might need another piece for the sink area. And I will have a small bar area in the basement bonus room (home theater....exercise room, it's unclear still) that will need a counter.

Once we do those, I'll know if I want more in the kitchen, or if I want to play with them as backsplashes, or maybe just as a large message board zone on one wall.

Either way, it was a bargain at $200.

I'll keep y'all posted!

This post was edited by hunzi on Thu, Dec 26, 13 at 17:49

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 5:48PM
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My question: What happens when oil and other food stuff gets on chalkboards? I'm thinking it'd be porous. I'd want to take a bit of the worst-quality chalkboards and experiment.

If it turns out to be a bad mix with food, you could definitely use it elsewhere in the house.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2013 at 9:40PM
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