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. 

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