How to recycle old slate chalkboards

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Modern chalkboards are made out of a synthetic material, but were once made from a natural surface called slate. Antique chalkboards are being removed from classrooms and churches where they were once key instruction tools, and replaced with dry erase boards and computerised smart boards.

Old chalkboards can make an excellent interior design piece, when used as a wall covering, table top, splash board or other accent piece. You can resurface and repurpose an old slate chalkboard for use in your own home.


Fill a bucket with room temperature water. Wet sanding is most effective when the water is slightly warm.

Dip the sanding block, intended for wet sanding with 60- or 150-grit paper, into the water until it is fully submerged.

Sand the chalkboard in continuous lines. Run the block from the top to the bottom of the board.

Repeat this process, dipping the block back under the water after each pass you make down the chalkboard.

Wet down and wipe off the chalkboards surface with a squeegee. Repeat this sanding and cleaning process as many times as necessary to provide a smooth finish to the chalkboard. This should remove all the shallow scratches and blemishes from the slate's surface.


Resurface chalkboards with blemishes that cannot just be sanded out. Apply a chalkboard surfacing paint, available from specialist paint retailers.

Brush a thin layer of the paint over the slate using a wide, synthetic bristle paintbrush. Do not allow the paint to drip or run.

Apply a second coat of resurfacing paint after the first coat is has dried for no less than 4 hours.

Allow it to dry for three days before dusting the surface to make it usable.


Dust the surface of the chalkboard to make it easier to write on the surface with chalk. Run a piece of chalk, laid on its side, over the whole face of the chalkboard covering it in fine white chalk dust. Wipe the dust away with an eraser, or clean rag.

Cut the piece of slate down to size for the project you are going to use the recycled slate in. Wear a mask to prevent breathing in the slate dust.

Leave a slight crack between the pieces and seal them with a black silicone, if you are using multiple pieces of chalkboard over a large wall or walls. This accommodates the slight differences in the thickness of the slate.