Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I've received many e-mails with questions regarding chalk markers.  I thought the easiest way to answer them would be to put all the info in one post.  The chalk markers that I use are the Marvy Bistro Chalk Markers.  (This is my personal opinion from my own experience using that particular brand only.)

The Good
What I love about using a chalk marker is how smooth the writing looks.
This is chalkboard vinyl with chalk marker writing. 

In comparison to using regular chalk, you have more control over the size of your writing.  Chalk markers are very easy to use and really don't cost very much.  The price per marker is comparable to a paint marker.  I also like that they don't erase as easily as regular chalk does.  So when you're using them for something like labeling a child's closet you don't have to worry about the writing being erased by little fingers.

In addition you don't have to deal with chalk dust.  Although, there are two sides to every coin, and this "erasability issue" will also be covered under the ugly section as well.  More on that in a bit.

Lastly, if stored properly they will have lasting power making the small expense very worthwhile.  Store them horizontally and make sure the cap is on tightly.  I've used my white marker a ton and it still has a long life left!

The Bad
Really the only bad thing is the fact that they are hard to find.  In my town I have only ever found them at Hob Lob and only sold in sets of four.  They come packaged - white, blue, red, and black.  I have never used any other color than white.  You can buy them separately online, but I feel silly buying an item that is less than $2 online.
Marvy Bistro Water-based Chalk Marker (480S0)

That is probably just my own weird personal issue though.  Anyhow, I really wish you could buy the white ones separately and that they were available at more stores.

The Ugly
Going back to the "erasability issue" I have to say that these markers just don't erase as well as regular chalk does.  Although even regular chalk can leave a film, all you need to do is use a damp cloth to wipe that film off completely.  When you are using chalk markers simply wiping the surface down with a damp cloth will not do the trick.  I have noticed that the longer the chalk marker stays on, the harder it is to erase.  Here's a personal example.

These chalkboard shutters sat propped up on my potting bench all summer long.

The writing stayed perfectly in tact even being outside and exposed to the elements.  These shutters are in a covered area but they would still get a little rain on them.  The writing wasn't phased at all.  I pulled them down to erase our Summer list and write down our Fall list.  This is what wiping them down with a wet cloth looked like.

Not quite erased they looked like an ugly, hot mess.  So I used a little bit of soap (just a mild hand soap) on a sponge and gave them a good scrubbing.

This erased the writing.  I used the green abrasive side of the sponge and a little of the chalkboard paint came off.

I'm fine with this because I like the worn look out here. In addition, if I want to freshen the chalkboard surface sometime in the future (which I probably won't) I'll just add a fresh coat of chalkboard paint.  They look just fine.  If I was using regular chalk than anytime we had any rain at all my list would be washed away.  So, the marker may be a bit harder to remove when I want to erase my list, but I don't have to keep writing my list over again every time it rains.  Sometimes you just have to take the good with the ugly.  In the case of my chalkboard shutters out on my potting bench I can definitely deal.

When it comes to using the chalk markers on chalkboard vinyl.  Erasing is a bit easier.  You will still need to do something more than simply wiping with a damp cloth.  I have found that acetone (nail polish remover) works quite well to remove the chalk marker.  Also a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will magically erase chalk marker too.  (I couldn't resist!)  I would not recommend using the acetone or Mr. Clean Magic Eraser on your painted chalkboard surfaces only on your chalkboard vinyl surfaces.  I honestly don't know what acetone would do to your paint job, but I don't think it sounds like a good idea.  I have always felt like the Magic Eraser is best used on light colored painted surfaces.  Anytime I've ever used them on a darker paint color they have left a little white residue.

So there you go.  That is my take on the good, the bad, and the ugly of using chalk markers.

In a nutshell- 
1.  I recommend using them on surfaces where you want the writing to stick around for awhile.  Using them for labeling.......

or for projects you don't plan to erase very often are your best choices.

2.  For areas you want to erase with ease use regular chalk.

3.  To erase chalk marker from painted chalkboard finishes use a mild soap and water on a soft lint-free cloth or sponge.  (Don't use the abrasive side of the sponge unless you want the paint to come off too!)

4.  To erase chalk marker from chalkboard vinyl use acetone or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

No go forth and chalk up the world!

What is your experience with chalk markers?  Any special tips for usage?  Have you found them sold separately in any stores?  Have you tried any other brands?  Let's swap chalk marker stories!

*Linking up at Tutorials and Tips Tuesday at Home Stories A to Z


  1. I didn't even know these markers existed. Must. Have. Now!

  2. thanks for all the tips! i have never found the markers, but i am ok with regular old chalk! :) i liked your honesty because i really felt like iw as missing out in not finding them before, but now i think i am ok with it since they are harder to wipe off.

  3. I've been on the hunt for those markers.....I keep stealing my kids' chalk out of their rooms. Thanks for the good, the bad and the ugly scoop on them.

  4. Great information! I've been wondering about those. I'll have to check out Hobby Lobby on my next visit. Also, your outside area looks adorable for Fall!

  5. I use Chalk Ink wet wipe markers exclusively. They can be purchased at Michael's crafts. I currently own two sets: white, yellow, red, and blue; and the autumn set in mustard, purple, maroon, and a muted green (I am not sure on the names of the colors but thats close.)

    I use the white on our every day board which is chalkboard vinyl and just wipe it down with a crocheted wash cloth and water. If it is up longer than I use one of the crocheted scrubbies and it does a great job.

    I also use these on mirrors to leave little messages, etc. Currently I have the words from "You are my sunshine" written on our living room mirror.

    I don't use chalk any longer because the dog was continually knocking it down with her tail....

    Have a great day!
    (I forgot to mention that I used a 40% off coupon to buy mine to make them a little more affordable... I'm all about buying on the cheap!)

  6. I've never used the chalk markers but now I'm going to have to come up with a little project to try them out! :-) Thanks for the great tips Carmel! Oh, and I absolutely LOVE your fall mantel...simply gorgeous!

  7. Thanks for the info. I recently asked for these at Michaels and they didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Love your outdoor display.

  8. Great pointers, Carmel. I have only used regular chalk up to this point but have contemplated markers and will investigate sources further :)

  9. Yep, I agree with the good...and actually, I think they are super fun to write with (c;...but the ugly? Darn it! I hate things that require *effort*...I wish I was being sarcastic (c:

  10. I've never used chalk markers, but they look fun. but what's weird is I'm working on a post the same title as this one! great blogger minds ;)

  11. Peggy thanks for the info. I've been wondering how other brands compare!

  12. I'm enjoying jet lag after our bicycle trip through France and have been catching up on blog posts this morning. Thanks for the tips on your two favorite shops here in Lexington. I have been to the coffee shop many times but never went into the vintage shop. I will be sure to check it out the next time I'm on Regency Road.

  13. I tried that same brand and had the exact same experience. I also noticed it left a little "shadow" where the writing was. No one would notice it but me, but still . . . I just went back to using regular ol' chalk.

  14. This is so funny! I was just going to email you about these pens! Thanks for the detailed review!


  15. Hi, sorry, I know I'm INCREDIBLY late to this party, but I'm thinking of putting chalkboard paint in my home office, and I'm very interested in the Chalk Ink markers because of the great visibility and lack of dust.

    I'm sad to hear about the erasability issues. The Chalk Ink website recommends using either water (which seems not to work) or an ammonia-based cleaner like Windex. Have you tried Windex, and did it have better results?

    1. yes, I've tried windex - the longer the chalk ink stays the harder it is to remove - the best thing I've found to remove it is a mr. clean magic eraser.

      they also make dustless chalk - google it - it's worth a try -

  16. Thank you for this post! I'm hopping onto ebay to purchase some Marvy Bistro Chalk Markers now... all the way over in Australia!!

  17. Thank you for all your great pointers. I painted the outside of my kids' lockers with chalkboard paint with the hope of using it for reminders and messages, etc. I love the look of the chalkboard paint markers and that's what I started using. You can find them easily online for a reasonable amount. My problem is the washability because I want to change them regularly and as you said, it doesn't come off easily. I have used everything under the sun including: Mr. Clean magic erasers, windex, soap, vinegar, goof off, acetone and other things I can't even remember. My sons went to town on their lockers with their own artwork (which I love) and now it's one HOT mess, as you say!!! I don't want the mess of regular chalk. I've seen this used in restaurants and it's washed off just fine. I asked and they couldn't remember the brand of paint but they were using the Bistro markers. I'm wondering if it's the brand of paint. I think I used Rust-o-leum. Any suggestions?

  18. Hobby Lobby and we now carries four different packs of Bistro Markers & a White Jumbo Marker.
    Medium Point - Red, black, white and blue
    Medium Point - Fluorescent Pink, yellow, green and blue
    Fine Point - Red, black, white and blue
    Fine Point - Fluorescent Pink, yellow, green and blue

  19. I found your blog trying to find a solution on how to remove the chalk marker from a blackboard vinyl, I'm leaving a comment here just to let you (and everyone that might stumble on here the same way I did) that I have found something that actually works without the use of chemicals. I mix 1 tsp of baking soda with 100 ml of warm water and that just wipes the marker off, even when all else failed.

  20. where did you find the last pictures long chalk board? i love it for wedding seating chart!

  21. where did you find the last pictures long chalk board? i love it for wedding seating chart!

  22. I recently bought a framed 8X10 chalkboard from HomeGoods to leave inspirational quotes/reminders to myself. I used the Recollections brand chalk markers from Michael's to write my quotes with and some reusable stencils to create a decorative border. Just now I went to erase my writing to update my board with something new and the chalk marker absolutely would not come off. First I used water and that did nothing. Second, I used 409 and a teeny tiny bit began to lift off. It was at this point that I googled the problem and found your blog. Third, I tried Dawn dish washing liquid (which cuts through absolutely everything) and a scrub brush. The pink started to lift off, but not nearly enough. Finally, I tried Nail Polish Remover. Voila! It worked! There is still a faint reminder of my old writing, but I think my new writing will hide it well enough. Long story short, be very careful when using chalk markers - ESPECIALLY colored markers. You could ruin framed chalkboards. I'm SO glad I didn't write on my new huge framed chalkboard I recently bought from HomeGoods. I believe both framed chalkboards were put out by Parisian Home. I might just go ahead and use old-fashioned chalk from now on for the big boards. For chalk labels, which I use for everything in my pantry and linen closets, I'll continue to use the chalk marker as they are inexpensive to replace.

  23. get them on amazon, but the Chalk Ink brand is best. you need to use glass cleaner and then a damp rag to clean.

  24. The things which you describe about chalk markers are very helpful. Recently for a home project, I used liquid chalk markers the good thing about that they are easily removable with a damp cloth.

  25. The Chalk Color brand of chalk markers sold on Amazon is what I have found to be the best overall value. They are bright and vibrant and a fraction of the cost of the other brands.

  26. The Chalk Color brand of chalk markers sold on Amazon is what I have found to be the best overall value. They are bright and vibrant and a fraction of the cost of the other brands.

  27. The Chalk Color brand of chalk markers sold on Amazon is what I have found to be the best overall value. They are bright and vibrant and a fraction of the cost of the other brands.


Be nice or I'll tell your mom! xoxo -C


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