Monday, July 23, 2012

Bifold Screen Saver

Back in October of 2006 I came upon a set of old bifold doors.  You know, the kind with half of the upper louvers missing....

I wanted to make a screen that would have a more functional side with a chalkboard and a pretty side with fabric.  The screen could then be used as a divider in a large living area creating an office or playroom side using the chalkboard and the fabric would create interest on the living room side.

The first step is to remove any remaining louvers and sand the whole piece.  I wanted an old world look and a punch of color so I decided on a medium green.  My doors were originally white and I like the look of multiple layers of paint so I only lightly sanded leaving most of the white.  Apply a good coat of green and let it dry.

While the paint was drying, I cut new upper panels from 1/4" fiberboard.  For the chalkboard side I like to spray at least two or three thin coats of chalkboard paint, changing the direction I spray with each coat.  I had a beautiful piece of upholstery fabric for the other side which I adhered with a spray adhesive.  Use a brayer to roll out any wrinkles or bubbles, just like you would when wallpapering.

Now that the green paint is dry, I sand off a little here and there to create a distressed look.  Finish off the frame with a coat of Minwax Gel Stain in Aged Oak to give the whole piece that extra layer of depth and an aged look.  This also gives the white under layer a warmer tone.

To insert the panels into the screen, I cut quarter round trim using a miter saw and stained the pieces with the Gel Stain.  Attach the pieces to one side using a small finish nail gun and insert the panels like you would a picture in a picture frame.  Then nail the remaining quarter round trim pieces on the other side.

Pretty and practical!

Tip:  Always cure a new chalkboard!  Have you ever bought a new chalkboard, written on it and the first time you go to erase it you find that whatever you wrote on it is now permanently visible?  It's because the chalkboard was not properly "cured".  To cure a chalkboard simply take a piece of chalk on it's side and rub it over the whole board.  Sometimes chalk is a little waxy and it's hard to get started so I use a little sandpaper to get the side of the chalk rough enough to work.  Once you've covered the whole board, simply erase.  This leaves the board with a light dusting of chalk which serves a little protective  layer between the board and the chalk.  Sort of like using that wallpaper primer so that when you go to remove wallpaper it comes right off.

Idea:  Make one side a bulletin board using cork which can be exposed or under the fabric.  Burlap or grain sacks are really hot right now and would look great.  Or try vintage wallpaper.....the list could go on and on and on.....


  1. Sherri - I have only praise for your site and the folding screen. It's not only pretty, it's practical. I love, love, love it. Good going!


    1. Thanks, Jane. I've always valued your advice and support. I hope you'll check in from time to time and keep me on my toes!

  2. Sherri! I must congratulate you as your advice is very practical. Please keep going and share your good work with world at large. I'll try this idea of 'bifold screen saver'.


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