So we all know how useful a dry erase board can be for brainstorming. I use them when working out my project designs and find them especially useful for working out ideas that involve many different parts. And of course, the larger the board the better! Unfortunately, they can be quite expensive. In fact doing a quick Google search I was presented with several boards ranging from a 2'x3' board for $18 to a 4'x8' board for $126. Not horrible pricing, but if you're on a budget like me you'd like to do better than that! So with all that in mind, I set out to find an inexpensive, quality dry erase board alternative. In addition, I wanted something easy to set up. Performing a quick online search on DIY dry erase boards I was presented several alternatives: Masonite, Showerboard, dry erase paint, dry erase sheets, and laminate. Here's the scoop.
First, Masonite or Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), that's right, clip board material. Well, clipboards are made with it, but its also used to make a myriad of other products — doors, molding and even furniture to name a few. And it seems lots of folks use the stuff for their dry erase needs. That's because it comes in a version with one side painted white, can be picked up at the local hardware store, and is very inexpensive — I found some 1/8”x8'x 4' sheets for $15 bucks that can be cut to size. Unfortunately the stuff just isn't made for use as a dry erase board and after a short time will begin to not erase easily or even at all without cleaner, and will begin to experience 'ghosting' (smudging). And this is especially true if you leave the dry erase ink on the board for days at a time and/or use the board often.
Next I looked at Showerboard or panel board, which is another popular alternative. Similar to sheets of MDF it's pretty inexpensive stuff, easy to hang up, and can be found at the local hardware store. Apparently, some showerboard products are better than others though so you'd have to do some trial and error with this stuff. It does seem a much better alternative than MDF, but still, lots of folks complain of 'ghosting' and lack of durability with this material.
I then looked at dry erase paint. This might actually be a good solution. Not certain about durability and quality though. What I do know is that if you have textured walls you'll have to sand them. In addition, you gotta let the stuff dry for a few days before you use it. Just not easy to setup if you ask me, so I'm out on this deal.
How about dry erase sheets? Well this stuff is either way too expensive or way too cheap. Apparantly, the affordable versions are difficult to apply to backer material (the backer material could be your wall or you could also choose to apply it to a sheet of panel board first, and then hang it on your wall). The challenge is in getting all of the wrinkles out of it the first time, because if you don't get it right the first time and then try to peel it back to try again it might not re-adhere. Then you've got yourself a brand new sheet of garbage! And the more expensive versions are just too expensive.Might as well buy a real dry erase board unless you're needing something possibly more portable. I'm thinking what you'd gain in portability you'd lose in longevity.
Finally, enter Laminate, more specifically Wilsonart Laminate. No I haven't tried this, but I do think this might be the real deal. It's used in counter top manufacturing. That means it provides a very durable, non-pourous surface. It is quite a bit pricier then the other alternatives however at about $43.00 bucks for a 1/16”x4'x 8' sheet. This might be the way to go though. Purchase some adhesive and maybe a nice sheet of plywood or some other form of backer board and you could have yourself a large, good quality dry erase board for about $70 bucks give or take. Not too shabby, I might actually give this one a try.