DIY Decorated Clipboard

I absolutely love decorating clipboards. It's fun and super easy. Today I'm going to show you how.

You can buy a clipboard from anywhere. Preferably wood -- I haven't tried this project on plastic clipboard yet. I usually buy my clipboards from Staples in a multipack.

If you want to paint your clipboard, you need to sand it first. It's totally optional to paint it, but I prefer to with the light colored clipboards because I like them to be dark brown. If they come dark brown, then I don't paint them.

The paint I use was bought from Smith's Marketplace, so at the time that I bought it, I had no idea what I was buying. But luckily this paint (Rust-oleum American Accents) works great. I use a foam paint brush because it works better than a regular paintbrush. The paint goes on nice and smooth with a foam brush.

I totally coat the back and don't worry about painting over the two silver studs on the back. After the first coat dries, I usually add one more, if needed.

I paint the edges of the front so that I can leave a border around the clipboard with the paper.

After the paint is all dry, I measure my paper and cut it to size. I generally will use heavy scrapbooking paper. The thinner the paper, the more of a pain it is to ModPodge down -- bubbles, ripples, tears, etc... you don't wanna mess with that.

To measure where I need to cut out the section for the clip hardware, I line the paper up where I want it (so both border edges are even on both side) and slip it under the clip. I use a pen or anything to make the edges of each side of the clip hardware and then take it back out and cut it. Cut it a little bit at a time so you don't cut too far.

This is my first time using a corner rounder for a clipboard, but it looks a lot nicer than how I was doing it before (I was eyeballing it and trying to get both sides the same...it looked terrible most of the time).

This is optional, but I always tear my top piece so it looks ragged at the bottom where it will meet the smaller, second piece of paper. You can always just use one big piece if you don't want to mess with using two pieces. If you are going to tear it, make sure you've left your bottom piece of paper enough space to fit underneath the top paper...meaning make sure it's long enough...you'll see below.

The bottom piece of paper should just fit under the top piece so it looks like one piece. If you put too much of the bottom piece underneath, you may have a "bump" in the middle of your clipboard from the overlapping.

To adhere the paper to the clipboard, use ModPodge. I choose to use the matte ModPodge. And please, use a foam brush. It gives a smoother layer of ModPodge and is cleaner than using a regular brush. Slather it all over the top half of the clipboard and on the back of the top piece of paper. Carefully place the top piece of paper on the clipboard and smooth it down. ** Don't ModPodge the very bottom of this piece if you want to stick your bottom piece underneath. **

Best investment ever...seriously -- use a squeegee to smooth out any bubbles and excess ModPodge. I didn't have a squeegee for any of the other clipboards I made and they all have wrinkles or bubbles. Not terrible ones, but noticeable enough that it bugs me.

Repeat with the ModPodge on the bottom piece and slip it underneath the top piece. Make sure you now add ModPodge to the section on the top piece of paper that you left un-podged so it stays down and doesn't rip. After both pieces of paper are dry (give it about 5 minutes, it dries quickly), ModPodge the whole front -- on top of the paper and on the sides. This gives the clipboard a nice matte finish and allows it to be wiped if anything ever gets on it...and protects the paper.

Once the front is dry, I ModPodge the back as well -- for the same reason: protection. This is optional, of course.

Okay, now you may have noticed that in many of the pictures above, some of the clip hardware was painted blue, but the clip itself wasn't. I didn't wait long enough between coats and ruined the clip the first time around, so I decided to just wait until the end to repaint it. This is the first time I've painted the clip and hardware. It took two coats -- which need at least one hour of dry time in between. I used Martha Stewart Satin Paint. I think it looks kinda neat since it matches my paper.

To punch the holes in the clipboard, I used my Crop-a-dile. Love this tool. I used the bigger punch (where the arrow is) to punch the holes.

Because I didn't leave a lot of room on the border of the clipboard, I decided to place my holes up top.

I chose coordinating ribbon colors and tied them on through the holes. I added one to the clip for fun.

Ta-da! All done...looks cute, huh? It took me about 30 minutes total, counting drying time for the paint and ModPodge.

Here are some others I've made.


  1. Hi Tiffany-

    These look divine. Do you sell them? I covered one with paper front and back, but I like the way you covered yours and stained the back. The little bows are such a cute accent. Great tutorial.
    Thanks for leaving the nice comment on my blog.
    My best- Diane

  2. These are soo great. Love them for gifts or a teacher gift. I made a small one for my daughter's dance teacher.
    I am following you now

  3. I've always wanted to do one of these and you make it looks so easy! Thanks for inspiring me!

  4. What a fab idea! You took a drab clipboard and made it into a work of art! Love it! I am a new follower and would love for you to share this idea at my Real Life Tips Link Up http://www.messforless.net/2011/09/real-life-tips-blog-link-up.html

  5. SO cute!! I'm going to have to make some of these for the girl I serve on several committees with!

  6. Thanks for all of the positive feedback. They're tons of fun to make. I may be adding some to my etsy store soon. =]

  7. These are so cute! I use clipboards all the time, and mine could use some fancying up! Thanks for the idea. These would make great gifts too!

  8. I love your clipboards! I have actually just bought some to make! You have given me some great ideas! Thanks! Im your newest follower!

  9. What fun clipboards! I love that bright number one. What do you use them for?

  10. @Autumn -

    I use the clipboards all around the house. To-do lists, to hold my inventories, for my grocery list, and for whenever I'm hanging in the living room needing a place to write.

  11. Soo pretty.. Love it..Hi there, I found ya via blog hop and had to stop in and say hello, LOVE all your creativity and space here.. Excited to get to share in more blog fun reads and inspiration from ya.. I'm officially following ya.. I'm Marilyn via http://theartsygirlconnection.blogspot.com/ - hope you can stop in & link this awesome craft in my fall crawl blog hop happening now :)) TY

  12. wow! love your clipboards so much i had to make one but mine didn't turn out as good as yours so i had to reread your tutural and i realized that i need to get a squeegee. my clipboard paper keep bubbling up and i didn't know how to fix it. now I do. Thanks.

  13. Where do you get said squeegee? Missy... mcdeluca@bellsouth.net

  14. Wow, this was exactly the info I needed! I found some clipboards on sale for pocket change and got a couple for my littles boys to take on car trips, but they had really girly patterns on them. This is the first good advice that I have found on how to redecorate them, and all with materials that I have on hand! Now I wish I had bough more of the inexpensive clipboards just to do a bunch of these lol. Thanks a million!

  15. Thank you so much for letting me know that my Crop-a-Dile could punch through clipboards! I never would have tried that! I make these for my teacher friends because as a teaching student I'm on a strict budget. I love them. Thank you for helping me improve the design of my own clipboards by teaching me about how you trim your paper. :)

  16. What kind of paper do you use on this?


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