DIY bulletin board

I’m back!  I’ve had a cold for four weeks now (remember the one that took me down and required homemade soup?).  Two and a half weeks in I got stomach flu, too.  Needless to say, I wasn’t up for much blogging.  Nor cooking.  My sense of taste and smell have been seriously diminished.  So even after I regained the ability to eat normally again, I haven’t had much interest in cooking or eating.  (Gasp!)

However, I have a new (old) love.  A lovely morning spent perusing a DIY magazine generated a spark that lit a crafty fire.  I have been on a roll, my friends.  I’ve got numerous projects to tell you about, but I’ll start with a brilliant DIY bulletin board.  It’s quick, easy, inexpensive and really beautiful.  It requires no special skills or tools to assemble (although it does require a power drill to mount), and it is completely customizable to your taste.

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DIY bulletin board (before pinning papers up)

I’ve been wanting a giant bulletin board for my office for a long time.  You see, I’m a visual person.  Out of site, out of mind.  So if I can’t see my notes, bills, project materials, inspirational and educational what-nots, I tend to forget about them.  No bueno.  To avoid that, I keep all those papers spread around my desk. Also no bueno.  A huge board is a perfect way to convert empty wall space into an organizational system that works for me.

Initially I thought I wanted to make a cork board.  But the raw materials cost a fortune.  And I worried about hanging such a heavy board given that our walls don’t take kindly to screws.  A quick internet search yielded an ideal solution.  I read about it over at Making Lemonade (hurray for talented bloggers!), and was inspired to make it right away.

Basically, you buy a foam insulation board at a home improvement store (mine cost $10.52).  Have them cut it to the size you want (free) after checking that it will fit in your car (very important).  Wrap it in fabric and adhere with packing tape (cost varies with cloth, but you likely already have something lying around that will work).  Screw into the wall (maybe $0.40 for screws?).  A DIY bulletin board for as little as $11 that can be made in under an hour.  Are you feeling how genius this idea is???  I’ve already sold two people on the idea just by word of mouth.  I’m hoping after you see my results, you’ll want to give it a try, too.  It’s amazing.

Assuming you’re gonna want to make one, and I think you are, allow me to break the process down for you.  Below I describe how I made mine and what you’ll need to make your own.

Materials and tools required:
Foam insulation board
Fabric (8 inches wider and longer than board)
Push pins
Packing tape & dispenser
Level
4-8 screws and washers
Power drill

Cost: $11 or more (depending on fabric selected) Time: 1 hour

Instructions:

1. Select your fabric and board dimensions: Measure the wall space you want to fill.  The board can be as large as 4’x8′.  If you have the cloth already, hang up a sample to verify the size you chose looks good on the wall.  I used some cloth I bought in Egypt years ago.  It’s a lightweight cotton.  I think anything would work as long as it’s not too delicate (pins could damage the fabric) or thick (hard to push pins through).   You could repurpose a sheet, tablecloth, or some fabric you bought for a project but never got around to sewing (I’ve had some for more than 10 years and I’m sure I’m not the only one!).

**Update: I thought of another money-saving tip for purchasing the fabric.  Most stores that have fabric departments sell remnants for half price.  (Remnants are the pieces left on the bolt when there is less than a yard left.)  So, if the bulletin board you’re making has one side that is less than 3 feet, you could shop the remnant bin for a great deal on your fabric.  Just be sure to check the dimensions of the remnant you choose (including the width) to make sure it’s large enough for your board.

Whatever you choose, the piece of fabric needs to be at least 4” wider than the dimensions of your board on all sides (i.e., add 8” to both the width and length of your board).

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This is just the cloth pinned up to test the dimensions

2. Buy a custom-cut foam insulation board: Go to the home improvement store and select a foam insulation board.  They come in 4’ by 8’ sheets of various thicknesses.  I chose an inch, which looked like the minimum feasible.  If you want a chunkier board, you can go with 1 ½” or 2”.  Those look great, too.  Take the board to the wood cutting area and ask them to cut out a piece with the dimensions you want.  (You may want to consider making more than one bulletin board at a time from a single sheet, so sketch out how to get the pieces you want from a single 4’ by 8’ board.)

Note that if you want a board larger than will fit in your car you can simply have two pieces cut (halves) and tape them together once you get them home.  That’s what I did.  Mine is 4’ by 6’ and made of two pieces that are 4’ by 3’.  (You can’t just put a big piece on the roof of your car.  I asked.  The foam is too delicate to survive the ride.  If you simply must have a single large piece, you could sandwich it between two pieces of plywood and tie it to the roof.  I’m quite sure that would work.)

3. Attach foam pieces together: If necessary, tape your pieces together using clear packing tape.  Make sure you match up the front and back sides of the board so you have one side that is a solid color and all the writing is on the other.  (The printing might show through your fabric, so you want it all on the back side of your board.)

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Two halves taped together
Back side
Back side
Front side
Front side

4. Pin the fabric: Lean the board against a wall with the silver (non-writing) side facing the wall (this will be the front), slide your fabric down between the wall and the silver side with the right side of the fabric (the pretty side) also facing the wall.  [If you’re making a smaller board you can simply lay the fabric and board flat on a table or the floor.] Using push pins, affix the fabric to the back of the board pulling the cloth tight and even (use your best gift wrapping and hospital corner-making skills here).  The pins will hold the fabric temporarily while you tape it.  Tip: Place the pins 2” from the edge of the cloth to leave room to adhere the tape without having to move any pins.

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5. Tape the fabric: Working in pieces of a length you can manage (I did about 2’ at a time), adhere the tape to the cloth and the board, pulling tight as you go.  Tip: Do the top and half way down the sides and then flip the board 180 degrees so you can tape the other side with ease.  Remove the pins.  Your board is done.  Now you just have to mount it.

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6. Mount the board: I used 6 screws that were ½” longer than the thickness of my board.  (So, 1 ½” in my case.)  I added a washer to each screw for aesthetics and a bit of added security.   With a power drill and a lot of force if needed, drill the screw straight through the cloth, foam and into the wall.  Tip: Pre-drilling the screws into the board until they just emerge from the back of the foam makes the mounting a lot easier.  Hold the board steady after checking that it’s level (using a level).  It helps to have an extra set of hands, but isn’t strictly necessary if you can support the opposite side while you drill the first screw.  I used a chair and some pillows.  That’s a real pro technique.

Drill screws 1” in from each corner.  After the first screw, double check that it’s level, and proceed with the next corner.  Once you’ve finished the corners, add additional screws anywhere you see the board bowing.  (I added one additional screw on each side to hold it flush with the wall.)  Done!

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7. Pin things up: Now comes the fun part.  Pin things to your bulletin board!  I am using mine for organizing papers, but you can use yours for an inspiration board, photo board, display for artwork, informational center… or even leave it plain and just use it as a wall hanging.

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My son loves pinning things to it, so that’s a bonus.  I think I’ll make him one of his own next.

If you try this DIY project, let me know how it went and what you use your bulletin board for.  And send a picture if you can!  I love to see how people make a project their own.

This post was shared at One Project at a Time at A Bowl Full of Lemons and From the Farm Blog Hop at Sunny Simple Life.

3 thoughts on “DIY bulletin board

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I’m really thrilled with how this came out. I have two extra pieces from the board I had cut, so I’ll be making more! I may hang one as is, and forget pinning things into it. With nice fabric they are gorgeous as is!

      Beautiful blog, BTW!

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