Friday, September 21, 2012

How do you use your whiteboards?

How are you using your whiteboard? 
Are you doing something different? Is it helping in an unexpected way? Have you made the change from some other medium? Do you just love your whiteboard?

Be a guest writer for our blog and share your story.

Submit your story for review.
Guest authors will receive all the fame and glory that accompanies guest blog posters on whiteboard blogs, and we will include a link to your website.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Best Classroom Whiteboard

Looking for a long lasting whiteboard that will hold up to the wear and tear of a classroom? Let's face it no one uses their whiteboard more than teachers, lets make sure that you get the right board for your needs! 

First you should know that all whiteboards are not created equal and costs vary widely. The number one dry erase board for classroom use is porcelain steel; in fact many of these whiteboards come with 50 year guaranties

Porcelain steel whiteboards are extremely durable and resistant to stains & scratches. The hard enamel surface doesn't wear away over time and it cleans easier. The steel backed surface allows the use of magnets and magnetic accessories, which serves double duty as a magnetic bulletin board as well! 

This board is perfect for the classroom hazards that can occur on a daily basis. These boards are more resistant to damage whether it is from vandalism, misuse or neglect (leaving writing on board for extended periods of time).

Porcelain boards provide a quality teaching tool that will not have to be replaced for generations (or at least until current students grandchildren are in the classroom)! If you plan on constantly using the whiteboard, it will be more cost effective to purchase a porcelain whiteboard once, instead of replacing multiple melamine boards over the years.  
Sure there are less expensive options available and we know that often there is little to no budget available for individual classrooms on a year to year basis but do your classroom a favor and cross whiteboard off your needs list once and for all. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Having trouble erasing your dry erase board?

What good is a dry erase board that doesn’t erase?
Many different factors can contribute to a whiteboard not erasing, but with a little knowledge and some tips & tricks you can easily get that board clean or at least know when the time has come to replace it.

Use the right tools
Traditional felt chalk board erasers were not designed to be used on whiteboards. Instead of trapping the ink, they tend to push the dry ink around the surface of the board. They leave a trail of dry ink debris on the surface, causing the board to look messy and dirty.
A soft microfiber cloth tends to work better than a paper towel or a rag because the fibers trap the ink and get it off of the surface while polishing the smooth dry erase surface.  Microfiber cloths have negative charges that actually attract dust, ink, dirt, etc.

For the stubborn stains
If simply wiping the cloth over the stain does not remove the stain, adding water to the cloth may be the next step. Wetting the cloth in a way reactivates the ink. It loosens the ink particles making it easier for the fibers to clean the board. A damp microfiber cloth should erase the simplest of stains.  

For resilient stains
For resilient stains try using a whiteboard cleaner. Whiteboard cleaners are designed to erase stains while cleaning and conditioning the whiteboard. You can make your own whiteboard cleaner using a solution of 50% water and 50% isopropyl alcohol.
If the cleaner does not seem to be doing the trick, increase the proportion of isopropyl alcohol to water, this should erase the hardest of removable stains. Using straight isopropyl alcohol, or isopropyl wipes should be the next step if increasing the solution does not erase pesky stains.  

Helpful Trick
Sometimes simply re-writing over the stain with a dry erase marker and then erasing the ink will remove the stain underneath. Writing on a stain with a dry erase marker in a way reactivates the ink and when it is erased it pulls the old ink into the cloth along with the new ink; resulting in a clean board. This has been known to erase permanent marker stains and is an easy trick if you are out of dry erase cleaner, or if there is no water nearby.

The worst thing you can do for your whiteboard would be to use abrasive cleaners that could potentially scratch or harm the board. Magic erasers, tile/tub cleaners, all-purpose cleaners, bleach; harsh chemicals such as these can ruin a board.  

Resurface or Replace?
If the staining gets out of hand and the previous solutions do not work for your whiteboard, then it might be in your best interest to either resurface or replace the whiteboard. See our post on resurfacing dry erase boards

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Before you make your own whiteboard

The do it yourself dud

There are a lot of do it yourself (DIY) websites instructing people on how to create their own whiteboards. Building your own homemade whiteboard can be a fun weekend project and can save a couple of bucks in the short run. But before you get started, there are some factors to consider, and I am going to outline them here.

Okay I’m ready to start what do I need?
Many plans suggest using melamine shower board panels for homemade whiteboards because they are cheap and can be written on and erased. The thought is that shower-board melamine is the same as whiteboard melamine. And while they are similar they are not the same, shower board is not made to be used as whiteboards and will only last so long before it starts to ghost or stain. The hardware store material is only meant to be water resistant and hold tile adhesive. A dry erase board is intended to be nonporous and scratch resistant. 

So why does this matter?
First let's explain how and why melamine boards "ghost" 
Most melamine dry erase boards have some abrasive resistance in their surface (some are UV cured to harden them) and even they eventually wears out over time. What happens is the glossy top surface wears away from the friction of marker and eraser rubbing on it. As the surface wears away,  it becomes more and more difficult to erase the marker; then as you scrub harder and harder to erase the marker the surface wear away faster and faster until the nonporous surface is compromised and you are writing on the porous white under the surface and the board stains; this is commonly called ghosting. 

With a shower board, the surface isn't made for abrasion resistance so this process will happen far quicker.  

Compare these to the best and most expensive whiteboards have a surface made of a porcelain enamel that is so hard and durable that many come with a 50 year warranty.  

But I don’t want to spend that much!
Quite frankly not everyone needs a porcelain board, unless you are using the board every day for long periods of time (think schools) you probably don’t need one either. That said, if you are going to spend time and money making a whiteboard why not save yourself the trouble and money and choose something that is guaranteed to last, instead of throwing your money away into a homemade dud.

Obviously you could purchase actual quality unframed dry erase panels and have them shipped to you but anything even fairly large would have to ship on a freight truck and that in itself is very expensive.

You do have another option
Opti-Rite Lite has a peel-n-stick self-adhesive backing that is easy to install onto a wall or existing board. The material comes in a 50 inch wide roll sold by the linear foot. It may be applied directly to a smooth wall or to a panel to make your own framed board. It sells for under $20/foot and ships without the expensive freight charges. And the writing surface is as good or better than any other dry erase board available. 

Fixing your homemade whiteboard
If you have already made your homemade whiteboard you may cover it with Opti-Rite Lite as a preventative measure against staining or you may use it to "restore" a board that has begun to stain. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Melamine vs. Porcelain Steel

Not all whiteboards are created equal.

When you need a dry-erase board, you will have many options to choose from and they are not all created equal and do not all perform the same.  Two of the most common options are porcelain steel and melamine. If you find yourself wondering what the differences are, you are not alone. I hope to clarify the Pros and Cons of both melamine and porcelain boards in an effort to help you find the right board for your needs.

Economy option: Melamine (Non-Magnetic)

Melamine is comprised of a plastic film on white colored hardboard. These tend to be economically friendly but are not magnetic receptive. Over time and after repeated use, the clear coating will wear away which will result in ghosting or staining, so melamine boards should be cleaned immediately after every use to prolong the good condition of the boards.

If treated and maintained properly, melamine can last several years. However, this means that the board needs to be cleaned with a dry erase board cleaner and a microfiber cloth, rather than other harsh cleaners can eat away at the clear coating and cut down the ‘life span’ of the melamine board. Avoid leaving marker on the surface for extended periods of a time; this too can eat at the surface.

Durability option: Porcelain Steel (Magnetic)

Porcelain steel whiteboards are much more durable than the melamine boards because the writing surface is so hard. The porcelain is hard baked enamel that resists resist dents, scratches, stains and ghosting!
Additionally, a porcelain boards’ enamel surface is backed by steel.  The steel strengthens the board while making it magnetic receptive allowing the use of magnets and magnetic accessories.  With porcelain you get a durable writing surface that doubles as a bulletin board.  

The best porcelain whiteboards come with a 50 year warranty on the writing surface! They are perfect if you plan on using the board on a daily basis, they can withstand the maximum amount of usage.  Think about it, with a 50 year guarantee, if a porcelain board is purchased for a classroom, the board will not have to be replaced until current students’ grandchildren are in the classroom!
If you plan on constantly using the whiteboard, it will be more cost effective to purchase a porcelain whiteboard once, instead of replacing multiple melamine boards over the years. 


Finding the perfect whiteboard for your needs doesn’t need to be difficult. Melamine and Porcelain boards both have advantages and disadvantages, either one could be the right fit for you consider your budget but also how you plan to use and care for your whiteboard.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Dry Erase Thought Bubbles

What could be more fun and unique than a dry erase thought bubble from! OptiMA Inc. has created colorful speech and thought bubbles that are a fun and creative way to decorate any kids’ bedroom room or the office! The adhesive on the back won’t ruin your walls when you decide to take it down which makes it a perfect option for college dorm rooms.

These speech and thought bubbles are easy to use and easy to apply. Peel and stick dry erase wall decals come in a set of four speech and thought bubbles. These are perfect for reminding yourself of appointments or meetings or to record thoughts and ideas.

They come with the option of either being all pink, all blue, a solid black outline or you can get each one a different color and they come four to a pack! These dry erase thought bubbles look great on pictures or posters so use them in a photograph for whimsical profile pictures!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Wood Framed Dry Erase Board... In a tube?

Opti-Rite Print decals
A wood framed dry erase board in a tube?
It doesn't make sense does it? But the Opti-Rite® Print Dry Erase Decals can in fact ship in a tube. The faux frame design looks just like a real wood frame but is actually part of the decal itself so it looks cool and it saves you a bundle on shipping!

The decals have an excellent dry erase surface on the front and a re-positional self adhesive on the back. You really need to see these to believe just how great these are.

Current designs include plain whiteboards, calendars, and music staff boards but they can be custom made with your own design for a small set up charge, even in single quantities!

These are available a a number of websites including

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Dry Erase Board Lesson Kits

I've just seen a new white board lesson plan kit that is still in development at OptiMA. The kits, geared toward the classroom contain a dry erase magnet that looks to be about 2' x 3' as well as a set of dry erase lapboards and full sets of markers and microfiber erasers.

The unique thing about the kits is that each dry erase board is printed with beautiful full color graphics. The kit I saw had full color United States Maps on them; I can see these being extremely useful in interactive geography lessons.

The magnetic map will stick to a magnetic receptive whiteboard, chalkboard or any other metal surface and the 9x12" lap boards are perfect for students to write on and demonstrate their knowledge to the classroom without having to leave their desks.

There is no exact launch date for these kits yet but I'm told that they will be available soon and be more than ready to ship for next school year.

UPDATE: OptiMA has created a series of boards for students ranging from younger children to college aged kids. The series will include a kit based on the currency lap boards, a kit with X/Y axis grids and the polar coordinate grids.