Art, Building, Children, Crafts, DIY, Gardening, Home, Make Over, Outdoors, Painting, Saving Money, Toddlers
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Goodbye Ugly Wall

concrete block wall

So recently I wrote a post about our recent garden sprucing, which included new furniture, splashes of colour and a home made planter. But I failed to draw attention to this ere eyesore above. The mingin’ concrete wall boundary wall. Luckily our neighbours agree it’s bloody horrible so they were happy for me to attempt to make it look a little better from our side of the garden.

The driveway and patio are also completely knackered, but we are planning an extension down the entire side of the house in the next few years, so no point in paying to get the wall, patio and driveway re-done. So that’s why it looks so rubbish. All in all. This bit of the garden sucks.

I was stuck with how best to improve this area as I wasn’t allowed to eat up any driveway space. It’s already tight to get the car down the drive, so there was literally no floor space to use. So I played around with some ideas:

  • Ivy – Nowhere to plant it and takes ages to cover a wall. By the time it’s covered we’d be knocking it all down for our extension.
  • Tin cans, spray painted, planted and hung on wall – Would need too many and might still look pretty kaka.
  • Outdoor Art – Expensive, too small, hard to find anything decent.

Hmmm…. so I kept thinking and it came to me. And I was pretty excited to get started. It needed these items:

plywood exterior

One enormous board of exterior 12mm plywood. £20 from timber merchants.

roof lats

Roof lats. £5 from timber merchants.

wilkinsons paint blackboard

Cuprinol Garden Shades, a can of Wilkinsons Blackboard Paint – £5.95 and some chalks.

You’ll also need some exterior screws, wall plugs, SDS drill, hand drill, screwdriver, handsaw, tape measure and paintbrushes.

Have you guessed yet?

sealed exterior plywood

I painted the reverse and edges of the board in Garden Shades Muted Clay as it was going show through the concrete blocks into next door’s garden. I’d already checked beforehand if I was ok to fix a board on the wall and they were super cool about it (because we have ace neighbours) but I didn’t want it to feel too intrusive, so we painted the back a light colour. The three coats will also add additional weatherproofing and am hoping we get about 5 years out of the finished project.

dewalt drill

To stop the board from bowing and give it greater integrity when screwed into the brick wall, we framed it in lengths of tanalised roof lats. The lengths were cut to size, and holes were drilled around the edge of the board to screw through into the frame. Now because i’m one of these impatient creative types, I would have just whacked a bit of exterior glue around the edges and planted them on, but my pops is a joiner by training and was a Design & Technology teacher* by trade, so everything was done properly (read, “slowly”).

*(Disclaimer – I’m certain my A* in GSCE D&T had nothing to do with my dad AT ALL. A-hem).

framed board

The frame also made it look like a proper piece of garden furniture and finished it off nicely. Now the holes were drilled and the frame was fixed, we had to take it all off to paint the board and frame separately. And this is why we didn’t go with the glue option. My dad is so clever.

We marked the sections of frame “left top” etc. so we knew which pieces went where and which way around. All the screw holes lined up perfectly when fixing back on this way.

wilkinsons blackboard paint

Action shot of me blackboarding it up. No make-up, bad hair. I look pretty happy don’t I? Flipping love painting. The Wilkos blackboard paint went on really well. Dried quickly and had a great depth of colour. I was impressed!

Painted board and frame

The frame was painted in Cuprinol Garden Shades, Wild Thyme to match in with the rest of our garden furniture colour scheme. Everything had a couple of coats and we left it to dry. Then it rained and we were flapping around trying to cover everything, I didn’t get any photos of that bit.

frame screwed on board

Once the sun came out again, and everything was finally dry, we screwed the frame back on and we got to see our enormous outdoor blackboard for the first time. I was excited.

painted corner of framed board

See how the top section of frame goes across the full length? This prevents the sawn edge from facing upwards and potentially taking in water. Even though everything was painted and sealed, the length will always fair better than a cut end.

hanging blackboard

Then we reached the heavy lifting bit, so needed some muscle. We measured the length onto the wall and marked out where we needed to drill the holes. My dad bought his SDS drill so it was a pretty easy job. Four screw holes, four heavy duty wall plugs and four exterior screws.

I have to admit I was awol for this bit as I had to go and pick up the Chinese. But I was only gone 10 minutes and they were putting the last two screws in when I got back. So this wasn’t that difficult by all accounts. As you can see Charlie is already enjoying his prawn crackers.

We then celebrated our achievements with a nice chow mein. Nom.

Let me remind you where we started at 11am that day.

concrete block wall

And here was the space at 7pm. A long day. But so worth it!

After - outdoor blackboard

Our enormous, wall covering, no space taking, outdoor blackboard. I love it. And I made it with my pops. Which makes it a proper family project. I shall bombard you with photos now, so you can see some details and action shots. Enjoy!

garden chalkboard

Handy little ledge for chalks. Or “chalkings” as Charlie calls them.

garden chalkboard

garden chalkboard

Charlie’s first word when he saw it finished was, “WOW-WEE!” 🙂

outdoor chalkboard

And we’re off.

outdoor chalkboard

That was Elsa from Frozen.

outdoor chalkboard

Then the requests for The Emperor, Darth Vader and Light Sabers came in thick and fast.

garden blackboard

garden blackboard

That was Olaf.

garden blackboard

A very camp Darth Vader with narrow hips.

garden blackboard

And this is probably the person who will actually use it the most.

garden blackboard

What did I tell you?

I’m so pleased with how’s it turned out. I looked for enormous outdoor chalkboards and they were super expensive and just too small. This did take a day to make and fix, but it’s only cost us:

  • Plywood – £20
  • Lats – £5
  • Blackboard Paint – £6
  • Cuprinol – already had
  • Chalk – £1
  • Screws & plugs – already had them

So all in for about £35. It’s given us a whole new section of the garden that just never got used. I cringed every time it caught my eye, but now i’m beaming. I hope you like it peeps. It’s a perfect project to get done for the summer hols. If you’ve got a wall going spare, get involved and let me see!


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