Fireplaces always create a hazard for little kiddos, especially if they happen to be in their playroom. And especially if you have four busy, curious tiny people all at once. Before we ever moved the kids into the new house, I'd already come up with a way to block off this potential safety hazard. A chalkboard fireplace cover! Then I went a step further and made it magnetic. It's been a genius addition to our house ever since!
What you need:
1 large piece of thick plywood cut to fit fireplace opening
2 cans magnetic paint
1 can chalkboard paint
1 roller paint brush
2 roller brush refills
2 small paint pans
sander or sand paper or sanding block
Measure your fireplace opening exactly then head to Lowe's or Home Depot and have them cut a piece of plywood to your specifications. This was so much easier than my husband having to mess with it himself and saved him searching through tons of boxes for the right tools anyway. The custom cut is free and you just pay for the plywood. I chose a particularly thick piece so that when the quads leaned on it or pushed toys up against it, the wood wouldn't crack or warp easily.
I hauled that bad boy home and the husband made a setup on the back patio so I could paint it. We sanded it down a little bit but I wasn't overly concerned with turning it into some super smooth chalkboard. If you do want it really smooth, I'd highly suggest a sander. By the time our kids are able to successfully use chalk without eating it, it'll probably mean we don't need as much babyproofing around the house and the fireplace cover will come down—hence the reason I didn't sweat over it being perfect.
The board takes three coats of magnetic paint and then two coats of chalkboard paint on top of that. It's a bit of a timely process so be patient and wait for those coats to dry in between.
And yes, that's a chandelier in the background above, lying in the grass. I'd spray painted it for a little makeover in our dining room. Multi-tasking, baby! You can find that DIY project here.
Once the board was dry and we'd tested out the magnetic hold with a couple magnets, we brought it inside and the husband used thick wood screws with a flat head to attached the board to the mantel. We have brick around the immediate outside edge of the fireplace, but the wood on the mantel made it easy to screw and unscrew the board. There is a thin strip of wood that runs around the perimeter of the fireplace, right beneath the board you see. That's what we attached it to and it'll be no problem to remove the board when we're done with it.
It's held up great to the kids and has been the perfect solution to blocking off the fireplace. We're a little sad we won't be able to use the fireplace this winter (our first in the new house), but we spend all our time in our "adult living room" on the other side of the kitchen anyway. One day, when the quads are bigger, their playroom will revert back to a living room/study area. We are always in transition around here!