There’s something magical about a whiteboard. It’s like a canvas for our ideas and a playground for our imaginations. It’s where we capture dreams, plot world domination, and play hangman.
It’s quite pricey often costing hundreds of dollars for decent-sized dry-erase boards. But what if you could make an entire wall a whiteboard for cheap? You can! Not only that, it’s quite simple to do, too.
Over the years, I have installed whiteboards in each of my kid’s bedrooms and in my home office for minimal investment. You can too.
Here’s a simple guide for transforming an ordinary wall into a huge whiteboard without breaking the bank. In fact, I did it for less than $30, tools and all.
Step 1 – Purchase Melamine Board
This is the same material most dry-erase boards are made from so it’s good enough for me. A 4×8 sheet of white, melamine wall panel (or shower board) at my local hardware store is priced at $11.86. Compare that to a manufactured dry-erase board of the same size for $149.99. Your size and price options may vary, but that gives you an idea of the kind of savings we’re talking about. It’s a no-brainer.
When you get your board, it’s important to make sure you don’t get one that is textured. Instead, go with a smooth surface. Also, these boards are quite flimsy (1/8″), so use caution when transporting them, and avoid scratching the surface.
You can get enough material to cover an entire wall or trim it down to a preferred size or shape. If you do need to cut it, use a table or circular saw. Because the boards are flimsy, try using a sheet of particle board as backing to help make the cut. Here are more helpful tips on cutting melamine board.
Next, you will need to decide how you want them applied to your wall.
Step 2 – Adhere it to the Wall
At this point, you could decide to adhere it to a 4×8 piece of plywood to mount on your wall. This is ideal if you want to move it around or if you are renting your home.
Because I wanted a wall with nothing but whiteboard, I went for a more permanent solution and applied it directly. Here how I did it:
1. Make sure you know exactly where you want to place it. Once it’s up, it is going to be a pain to take down.
2. Place the board face down and liberally apply your adhesive with a caulk gun. Avoid getting too close to the edge to avoid oozing upon placement.
3. Because adhesives like Liquid Nails dry quickly, you’ll want to get it up on the wall fast. The flimsy board can be awkward, so I suggest using a partner to help place it on the wall.
4. Once you and your partner have it positioned, hold it in place and press the board to the wall for about 10 minutes (or whatever the drying time is for your adhesive). This step is critically important. I once made the mistake of assuming a board was good to go after a few minutes. Hours later, the board fell off the wall and had to be re-applied.
A word about adhesives: The type of adhesive is important. I’ve used Liquid Nails Paneling and have used Liquid Nails Tub Surround. Both worked well. From personal experience, I can tell you that if you use the wrong kind (such as heavy duty), it will bleed through the whiteboard.
Step 3 – Apply a Coat of Turtle Wax
A great tip someone gave me was to put a finish of Turtle Wax on the board. It helps ease the removal of dry-erase markers and prevents ghosting. You’ll still need a cleaner (see next step), but using the wax will make cleaning much better.
I already had some wax for my cars, so it didn’t cost me anything extra. I just buffed it into the board like I would a car and let it dry.
Step 4 – Arm Yourself with the Proper Tools
Finally, you’re going to need the right tools to plot and scheme on your new whiteboard. This is the kit I bought which contains dry-erase markers, an eraser, and cleaner.
Break it in with a good ol’ fashioned game of hangman.
A Final Note
This is a guide for make your own whiteboard, but there many other creative and functional ways to go about it. You could add a frame around a board. You could cut it into shapes. You could even go wild and make every wall in a room a whiteboard. Did you know they make whiteboard paint?
It’s a doable DIY project that can have a big impact. The whiteboard is a tool to help you think, create, and play. Let it reflect you, your style, and your preferences.
I hope this piece inspires you to make a space in your home or workplace to chase a vision, produce something worthwhile, and have fun along the way.
If you’ve ever tried this project, what tips do you have?