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How to make your own dry erase board for $20


Here we build a 4' x 3' dry erase board for $40. This is less than half of what a board this size would retail for.



Whenever working on anything technical, visual or long, it's nice to be able to draw and store these ideas conveniently. One can find an endless amount of uses for a white board. Personally I'm an Engineer, and I like to see thing visually. We have already filled our custom dry erase board with project ideas, to-do items and things for this site. Immediately after building one, we saw a huge increase in productivity and organization. Okay, starting to sound a little too business-like. The point is, it's sweet having a big dry erase board.


There are a number of different approaches to making/installing a dry erase board:
1. Buy it - this may be the easiest, but definitely the most expensive. You can get a cheap 36"x48" dry erase board at office depot for $40, or a really nice one with mahogany trim for $100. Dry erase board at amazon for $66
2. Glass - glass is a great surface for writing on with dry erase markers, unfortunately it's heavy and dangerous.
3. Plexiglas/Lucite (acrylic plastic) - these materials are ideal, combining the best qualities of glass with the best qualities of plastic. It's easy to write and erase. Plexiglas is lightweight and won't shatter.
4. Tileboard - Solid White Tileboard (sometimes called Melamine tile wall panel) is used as a tile substitute in bathrooms. Some know it as showerboard because a couple of sheets of this and you have a nice waterproof shower stall. You'll need a $1 tube of panel adhesive to glue this 1/8 inch surface to the wall or a piece of plywood. You can cover an entire wall for $50. You can also cut it into smaller pieces with a regular circular saw. I've heard about some issues with markers staining this material. We're going to try this one next.
5. Write on sheets - these look pretty cool, pretty cheap for the size and quantity as well. available here at amazon

What you'll need

Part Cost/Unit QTY Total Link
36"x48" acrylic plastic sheet $22 1 $22 --
Drill (already had one) -- -- these are nice
Washers $.04 6 $.24 found here
Drywall Anchors $6/6 1 $6 the ones we used in 100 ct box
Screwdriver -- -- -- --
Markers $10.91 1unit/6markers $10.91 amazon
Eraser $2.56 1 $2.56 amazon
Total $41.51 $41.71


1. Find a good place to put your dry erase board. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but this can make a big difference in how effective your dry erase board will be. Pick a spot where nearly anyone will be able to easily reach both the top and bottom of the whiteboard. Also it's nice to have a place that is visible from any point in a big room. Since dry erase boards are typically used for collaboration, you want to ensure as many people as possible can collaborate. Measure the area you have available to make step 2 easier.

2. Choose your material and purchase the appropriate size. We bought a 4 ft x 3 ft piece of clear acrylic plastic at Home Depot. There are a few different paths to take as far as what type of material to buy as previously discussed in the introduction. We chose acrylic plastic for a few reasons. first of all it comes in very large sizes at a low cost. The board can be cut into any shape desired and fit any wall or location. It achieves the same functionality as a white dry erase board you might find at office depot (these are normally ceramic on steel I believe). Although you can buy a similar size board for around $40 with a spiffy frame, when the size is scaled up the price increases dramatically. If you are covering a large wall the price of acrylic will be much less than a retail dry erase board.

The acrylic plastic with blue plastic coverings

3. Drill holes in the board and the wall. To mount the board on dry wall we used drywall anchors. Match up a drill bit with the screw for your anchor. Peel back the protective plastic sheet around the edges of the acrylic. Hold the board into position on the wall as desired and have a friend hold it firmly in place. We drilled 6 holes, one at each corner and one in the midsection of the long edge of the board. Our drywall anchors provided plenty of support, but use more if you have a larger board. Place the holes approximately 2 inches or more from the edge of the board. Drill through the acrylic and tap the wall behind it so you know where to put the anchors or simply drill straight through the wall as a guide hole for your anchors. This way you can be sure the holes and anchors line up.

Peeling the plastic back
Drywall anchors
Drilling - we drilled on the ground for fear of cracking, easier to drill on the wall

4. Screw the drywall anchors into the wall. We broke a couple by not following directions and in the end it was easier to use predrilled holes and simply push them in. Make sure the anchors are flush with the wall. The anchors we used were rated for 60 lbs. so there should be no worries of it ever falling down. With all the anchors in place you are ready to mount the board.

A drywall anchor in the wall

5. Clean both sides of the board and mount it. Before the final mounting you should remove all the plastic protective lining from both sides of the board. Use some Windex or any window cleaner to remove dirt and dust. Hold the board in place and screw the screws through the holes in the board and into the anchors. We used washers between the screw and board to help distribute the force on the acrylic and help hide the drywall anchor. Once everything is screwed in, take a step back to admire your work, then grab a marker and let your imagination go wild.

The finished product
Notice the washers under the screws
Stupid lightswitch was barely in the way

General tips - The acrylic is prone to scratches very easily, so be careful when moving objects around it or taking it down.

Marker/ Eraser holder - We wanted an easy marker and eraser holder so we tried out velcro strips. They worked perfectly for a day or two and then the small strips detached from the markers probably due to heat. We are going to try applying them with super glue, that will work for sure. If it works, then that system is really easy and cheap too. Some other ideas we've had for the marker holder are pvc pipe cut in half lengthwise, a small rectangular box or ledge built out of wood, or simply a cup affixed to the wall.

Sources and inspiration

http://www.glasswhiteboard.vox.com -- (link dead)

Further Ideas

It's always nice when doing elaborate planning to take a picture of the board when you're done that way if something gets erased you've got another record of your thoughts. We still have yet to do the marker/erase holder, we'll post more on that when it's completed. Also storing it over the summer might be a little difficult but I'm sure we'll figure something out.

Post to del.icio.us - a cool site to check out if you haven't yet.

Post to digg.com - another great site, if you don't read the main page daily you should.

Also, check out our main page with more projects