Sunday, July 2, 2017

DIY Dry Erase Table [educational: shapes, letters, numbers & story telling]

Confession time:  I am *obsessed* with dry erase products.  I have a several foot wide dry erase board in my craft room (which I used daily in college), I've purchased 5 dry erase learning to write books for my son, I've created dry erase reminder boards and dry erase party decor.  I would love to paint a portion of my wall dry erase to use as a large calendar but I'm still getting the details worked out in my head.  It goes without saying that I love this stuff.

[Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  I have received free product from Rustoleum upon my request in exchange for a DIY and honest review of the product.  All opinions are my own and are entirely my personal experience with the product. I do not endorse any product that I do not personally use and believe in. )

Why do I love it?
For starters, it's much better for you than chalk.  Whether you have respiratory problems (like asthma) or not- it's never fun breathing in all that chalk dust.  Yuck.  It's also cleaner.  Chalk boards always have leftover residue after being wiped down, the eraser gets dusty and the chalk itself is a mess - especially when you accidentally step on it. Yes, there are chalk markers but I haven't found one that I like yet.  Dry erase boards are clean, give a much crisper appearance and since they use markers, there is no accidental mess (unless your kid takes the lid off!)  Plus, coloring with all the bright colors of dry erase markers is just fun.   It's like those adult coloring books but re-usable!

That's why I am SO EXCITED to share today's craft project with you.  I've been meaning to get this done for a very long time and life kept getting in the way.  Now that it's done I wish I wouldn't have waited so long.  It's everything I imagined and more and my son is absolutely crazy about it.

Here's what you'll need:
- children's table & chairs (we got ours from a yard sale!)
- colored paint (for the non-dry erase parts)
- white paint
Rustoleum CLEAR dry erase paint
- basic sanding and painting tools
- vinyl, transfer tape and a cutting machine (Silhouette) or stencils

Let's get started:
First clean off your table and chairs and prep them for paint as needed.  If you are using a dark color of paint, don't worry about small marks because they will get covered.  Our table and chairs had some pen marks from the previous owners:

Now paint, paint, paint!  You'll want to cover all surfaces in your colored paint- even the top which appears white when finished.  This is because your "stenciled" area shows through and you'll want it to match the rest of the set.

If your little one is interested- get him or her in on the action!  Paint can always wash off (well... maybe wear old clothes...) and they will have a blast being involved with this project.

{He is proudly showing off the paint on his hands to both me and his mamaw}

Let dry and repeat with as many coats as you feel necessary.  We only painted one coat and it looks great but we also used a pretty dark color.

Sand and Stencil!
After your paint is all dried, lightly sand the top of the table to prep it for the next layer of paint.  Be careful not to take off the colored paint that you just applied!  This just gives it a little more texture to help the paint stick better since it's going on top of other paint.

{Such a good little helper}

Creating the stencil is the hardest part (and it's not so bad!)  Decide what you want your design to be.  I chose to have the letters of the alphabet plus numbers 0-9 going around the edge of the table with shapes scattered around the middle.  In Silhouette Studio I created a circle shape with my letters and numbers evenly spaced (trial and error) and then expanded the size until the bottoms of the letters fit just around the outside of the table (measure your table).

Next, duplicate your circle multiple times and rotate it so that you can get every letter/number on the cutting mat.  If this is easier to do cutting one row at a time that's fine- this just saves you some vinyl and time!  YOU MUST make it a circle first or else your letters will not curve around the table correctly.

After everything is cut, weed out your vinyl pieces.

Before attaching the vinyl, lay out your pieces where you would like them to be.  This will save you from any surprises at the end (like finding out that you don't have enough room for X,Y, and Z!)

If everything looks good, use transfer tape to put the vinyl onto your table.

Continue all around your table until all pieces are on.  Go back through and press down the vinyl as tightly as you can so that your next layer of paint doesn't bleed.

Next up: White Paint!
Once all your vinyl is attached (don't leave any transfer paper on!) get your white paint ready.  Paint over the entire top of the table (including vinyl).  For a little extra "something" tape off the legs of the table and chairs and dip them into the paint for a bit of contrast color.  I also chose to paint the back of their chairs white (and later, dry erase) so that the kids could write their names on the them.

Dipping the legs gives a sharper, cleaner look and takes much less effort than painting!

It took a few coats of white paint to cover the grey.  Use your judgement to decide what works best with your chosen color.  Once the paint is dry enough that it wont bleed, carefully pull up your pieces of vinyl.  I suggest using a pin or needle if you can't get a hold of the small pieces without scratching the paint.  I would try this before the paint is entirely dried though to also reduce the risk of it pulling off more than the stencil.  

Here's what it looks like after all the vinyl is removed:

Dry-Erase Paint:
Now is the part that makes this table extra special.  Grab your Rustoleum dry erase paint (make sure you bought CLEAR.  If you bought white it will cover all the stenciling you just did).  Read the instructions and follow carefully.  It's simple but you don't want to waste time once it is mixed.

I love that they made the can for Part B large enough to mix both parts together without getting another container.  It made this job much easier and cleaner!  When your white paint is entirely dried, simply pour, mix and roll the dry erase paint over the top of your table and on the chair backs.

I was worried about working with a 2-Part paint but it was so easy! Literally pour, mix and roll.  I also didn't come close to using all of it (and it sets up in 90 minutes so if you don't use it you lose it).  Next time I work with this product I am going to have several projects lined up so that I get the most use out of it.

Note: DO listen when they say that you can paint again after 60 minutes and no more than 90.  I tried to paint another layer in just over 90 minutes and the mixture was no longer smooth and creamy but thicker and tacky.  One layer works great on the table but I wish I would have paid better attention and done an extra one for good measure.  

Although it is clear, you will be able to see a shiny texture on the top of your painted surface.

Final Step: Enjoy!
Per the instructions, allow 3 days before marking on the dry-erase paint.  It's hard to be patient but do it!  I didn't even move the table into the playroom until day 4 just to be safe.  The verdict: WE LOVE IT. 

Here's a breakdown of the types of designs I included on the table and how it targets different areas of learning:

1. Letters
2. Numbers
3. Shapes for tracing & expanding upon
4. Shapes & Free space for storytelling and making connections

I included both uppercase and lowercase letters so that my kids could practice tracing their letters.  This also lends itself to learning sounds (see point #4)

Similarly to #1, children can practice tracing their numbers and counting in order.

Shapes for Tracing and Expanding Upon
Include a variety of shapes (some basic some more fun like flowers and clouds) so that your child can learn by tracing.  They also can use their imagination to create different objects from the shapes.  For example: A triangle could be an ice-cream cone, a piece of pizza or a tee-pee.  A circle can be a baseball or part of a snowman. etc.  The possibilities are endless and I love that. I want my children to see something and think "what can I do with this today"?

{okay, I actually drew the robot but he was giving me instructions! This table is fun for moms too!}

Storytelling and Making Connections
Similarly to #3, encourage your child to use the shapes to build a story. For example: I started drawing raindrops coming from the cloud.  My son told me to put an umbrella, then created a story about the man under the umbrella.  As he spoke, I drew along.  They can draw along too.

There is also plenty of free space for children to draw whatever they want.  Use this to help them make connections.  My son wanted me to draw a ladder as I was doodling.  After drawing it we talked about the letter "L" and the sound it made.  Then I had him find the letter "L".  After doing so, I drew a circle around it and connected the two.  This creates a visual and gets him involved in the learning process.

He has fun and I like watching him use his imagination and learn more about his letters.  It's a win-win.

Here's what the table and chairs look like from afar.  You can also see how I painted the backs of the chairs with the white paint and dry erase paint.

One final note: For long life of your table and chairs, try to erase the drawings at the end of the session.  I have found that it comes off easily with a paper towel or tissue but if left on for longer does leave a faint line.  I have also found that red/pink/purple leaves marks more than black.  I have not used a dry-erase cleaner on it yet. Only a dry paper towel.

That's it!
Thanks for sticking with me. I love tutorial posts but I wanted to be thorough which means long (aaaand I'm probably a little chatter box too).  I can't wait to see your finished projects so please share them with me on our facebook page

Happy Imagining and as always,


  1. That is such a wonderful project. And little fellow seems to love help in making the table his...and his sister! :)

    1. He's such a good helper! Hard to believe I started planning this project before we were even pregnant with his sister! #iworksoslow