Looking for an easy way to track your frozen foods that's also cool and unique? Use this tutorial for a DIY chalkboard freezer door to transform the front of your old freezer into something better looking AND useful.
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Our first full size freezer that allowed us to preserve a ton of food from our garden, as well as take advantage of sales to stock up, started out as a circa 1992 white freezer with rusted edges and a black and gray "racing stripe" down the left side.
Which was fine when the freezer was in our Portland bungalow basement or out in the garage, but once we created a laundry/mud room during our ranch-to-cottage garage remodel and you could see the freezer through the new French door, I knew I'd have to come up with something to make it look better.
And with a couple coats of chalkboard paint and some wood molding, it became one of my favorite things in the room!
And not just because painting a chalkboard on the freezer door made it look better, but also because it was such an easy way to keep track of what we had in the freezer.
I didn't realize how indispensable it would become as a time-saver for keeping track of the garden produce that I freeze. Not to mention meats and other things I buy on sale.
Having chalk and an eraser in a magnetic holder on the side of the freezer made it simple to update the totals, whether I was putting something in or taking something out.
DIY Chalkboard Freezer Door Steps
- Medium grit sandpaper
- Chalkboard Paint
- Foam roller and foam brush
- Chalk - my favorite, easy writing chalk is this brand
- 1-inch picture molding (not picture frame molding - you want a flat back like the linked example) - enough to go around edges
- Miter saw
- Paint or stain for molding
- Liquid nails
- Magnetic shelf holder and eraser
- Sand the front of the freezer, just enough to dull the shine, with a medium-grit paper. Spend a little extra time on any rusty edges to smooth them out.
- Paint a coat of chalkboard paint on the freezer door with a foam roller and brush around the handle. Let dry according to the directions on the can.
- Paint 2-3 more coats. If it looks like it needs it, go ahead with a third coat like I did.
- Prime the chalkboard: using the edge of a piece of chalk, cover the entire surface with chalk and then use a clean rag to wipe it off. This leaves a layer of chalk, giving it the chalkboard look as well as making it easy to write and erase.
- Apply molding to the edges. Measure the edges (we used a 1" picture molding) and cut using a miter saw or box to make the corners. Paint or stain the molding, let dry, and attach to the edges with Liquid Nails, holding in place with clamps.
TIP: We did one or two edges of molding at a time, letting the Liquid Nails dry before doing another edge. The clamps were tricky to keep in place because they didn't have much to hold onto, so doing it this way minimized any bumping.
Once the door is ready, place your magnetic holder on the side of the freezer and keep it filled with an eraser and chalk so you'll always be ready to adjust the totals.
Using Your Freezer Door Chalkboard
You can of course draw anything you want on your chalkboard door and use any organizing system that makes sense to you.
As you can tell, ours is completely utilitarian and I simply wrote the words in my handwriting. But I can see an artistic person making beautiful chalk labels, can't you?
To give you an example of one way to use the chalkboard door, I thought I'd share how I used it:
- In May, when the new produce season begins with asparagus, peas, and strawberries, start a new section on the bottom of of the door that lists what was left from the previous season.
- So, in the example in the photos, the 2009 title is moved to the bottom along with the names of any produce left and how many packages.
- Then write the new year - in this case 2010 - on top and erase all the category numbers from the previous year. It is now ready for the new season's produce.
And I love, love, loved this! I always struggled to keep track of the things I threw in the freezer, not to mention regularly using up the packages from the previous year that often got buried.
Bonus! The bottom can also serve as a sweet art display for anyone interested in drawing. Our daughter did the flower above and it would be a fun activity for any kids. You could even use a magnetic primer under the chalkboard paint to be able to use with magnetic letters and words.
After I completed this project and was writing this tutorial, I read some advice for painting freezer or refrigerators that say you need to prep the surface first. Other than the light sanding, I painted right over the top and it looked great and was easy to write on.
So, for less than $25 (even less if you already have some of the supplies) we got a much better looking freezer and an awesome organizational tool! That's a good DIY, isn't it?
Update: It looked the same for the four+ years we had this before the freezer died on us and we had to get another one. And how I miss the chalkboard!!
I'd love to know if you've done this and how you used your chalkboard freezer door! Be sure to leave a comment if you do.
This article has been updated - it was originally published in February of 2010.Disclosure: affiliate links in this article will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price. Click here to read my full disclaimer and advertising disclosure.