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September 3, 2014 Quick Covers for Ugly Classroom Surfaces By Lindsey Petlak
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    School surfaces take a beating. Even in newer schools, but certainly in older ones, classroom spaces take tons of wear and tear. We spend the majority of our waking hours in these rooms, so we want them to look their best for our students and ourselves. You’ll be shocked at these quick and simple cover solutions for unsightly classroom surfaces. They’re so easy, just by picking up a few items (or use what you already have) you can transform your ugliest spots in minutes!


    Decals Cover Dents

    Both on inherited classroom furniture and surfaces like walls, dents, holes, scratches, and irremovable marks abound. I can’t afford to replace everything, so I found removable wall decals in cute paisley print and inspirational quotes at my local dollar store and used them to cover up the spots. Four years later, the decals that cost me only a dollar each are still clinging perfectly to the walls, look great, and cover the spots completely!


    Storage Caddies Over Cubbies

    After decades of abuse from backpacks, coats, winter boots, and more, the wall space behind my cubby/coat rack area has many permanent scars. It’s made of a laminate material, so patching and painting isn’t an option. Instead, I found cute, soothing-colored plastic caddies at my local dollar store, attached some adorable wooden chalkboard tags with student numbers on them, and placed them on the top rack above student coats to cover the wall scars. Not only does your eye go directly to the cute baskets instead of the scrapes, but even better is that these provide amazingly compact and effective storage for tons of miscellaneous student personal items!


    Party Store Scene Setters

    As you already know from my previous classroom decor posts (1) (2) (3), I have a retro road trip theme in my room. I also have a small cubicle-style office with windows on all four sides. This year I gave my office an organizational overhaul and decor makeover, but in previous years (and I’m sure as this year progresses), that space became a disorganized catchall. Open windows looking into that mess can be quite unsightly.

    In the past, I’ve used curtains in such areas, but to enhance my theme, I found the most perfect plastic party scene setters (plastic party backdrops and wallcovers) to use instead. On the three sides with the largest windows, I looped one of the scene setters (Route 66 desert roadside and sky) around inexpensive spring rods, stapled in place, and hung in the windows. On the small window I used a retro jukebox scene setter because it fit perfectly and was a spot-on match for my retro reading cafe area of the classroom.  

    Best of all, these party backdrops pack MAJOR bang for their buck. You can find nearly any theme (beach, western, space, etc.) or even simpler patterns (wood, brick, stone, sky, solid color). On average, the roll of plastic wall covering costs around $16 for 30 x 4 feet of coverage!


    Hiding Our Heaters

    We have huge, old heaters built into our external walls. They take up a large amount of space, and many of these surfaces have peeling paint, chips, dents, etc. The covers don’t get hot, but they look awful. I’ve made these surfaces usable student spaces for magnetic alphabet letters, magnetic displays (birthdays, class jobs, etc.), and more. I still want this to be a usable surface, but would love for it to look better.

    My #teachingtwin, friend, and super fab colleague, Jenna Weinstein, had the most brilliant and beautiful solution for this Goliath of a heater cover. She simply bought some cute fabric and border paper. In this case, she used chevron fabric and polka dotted border paper. She attached both to the heater surface with sticky tack, but you could use magnetic tape, too. Now, the surface can go unused by students, but not be unsightly, or it can still be used for magnetic learning purposes without being an eyesore.


    Bed Sheets as Curtains

    When I moved into my classroom initially, the collapsible wall was fully exposed, holes and all. Pencil marks, stains, and more covered its entire surface. I knew I needed that space covered, since we are not able to use it as an actual collapsible wall. The only problem was to purchase curtains to cover a space that’s nearly 8 x 12 feet would cost a fortune.

    I found the perfect solution for a grand total of $35, and it’s lasted for four years with no problems whatsoever. Twin sized BED SHEETS are perfect for covering large wall (or window) spaces! For only five dollars each, I purchased six sets of sheets, the most inexpensive curtain rods I could find, and some bistro hoods to clamp onto the tops of the sheets and thread onto the rod. Voila! Each year, I take the sheets down, wash and dry them, and then hang them back up like new the following school year. Maximum coverage for minimum investment!


    Plastic Table Skirt Miracle

    Since moving into this room, I’ve searched for ways to hide the mismatched cabinet doors with missing or broken handles and open book cubby space in my room. Fabric would cost FAR too much (and I don’t sew) and would require major time investment. Then, while planning my son’s birthday party, I had an idea. The pleated, plastic table skirts that you attach to the outer edges of party tables look great, and are inexpensive. For $8 each, I found table skirts that perfectly cover the height of my damaged, mismatched cabinet doors, and measure 29 x 168 inches. They add unified, solid color to spaces around the room, with a touch of softness due to the pleating. They are plastic, have adhesive on the back side for instant application, and I don’t have to worry too much about them getting dirty or enduring wear and tear. Replacing them, if/when needed, will be simple and won’t totally break the bank.

    What are your eyesore solutions?  How have you covered scrapes, dents, stains, and scars in your classroom?  Please link up and share!

    Thanks for reading, and see you next week!


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