We have a big-ass whiteboard in the Toolmonger office, and it’s often a centerpiece for creative work. There’s nothing nicer than having lots of space to spread out a group’s ideas and kick them around visually. So when it comes to whiteboards, bigger is indeed better. But what if you want to turn an entire wall into a whiteboard? Sure, people have been doing this for a while now, but it’s been more the sort of thing you’d see a startup blow VC money on than something you could do at home or in a small business environment. Thankfully, that’s changed.
We found a couple of pretty good-looking options, which we present here from the most expensive to the least.
The high-buck whiteboard variants we mentioned at the top of this post are porcelain-coated metal sheets, and they’re the best. Not only is the porcelain durable as hell, but the magnetic backings are also ferrous, allowing you to stick stuff to the boards with magnets. But if you’re willing to forego the magnetic bit, we found some much more cost-effective stick-on solutions. WhiteyBoard, for example, offers a peel-and-stick variant that’s thick enough to smooth out rough wall surfaces, yet significantly cheaper than hard panels. $80 gets you a 4′ x 6′ sheet, which they claim not only doesn’t damage walls, but is removable and reusable. Tack on another $50 and you can have the same thing in a 4′ x 10′ variant. They call this their Corporate Whiteyboard. They offer the same thing in a whole bunch of different sizes and prices as well.
Assuming you have smooth office walls (or are willing to deal with whatever texture surface you’re stuck with), the same company offers a dry erase paint, which when applied in multiple coats turns (so they say) your wall into an erasable, reusable dry erase surface. Pricing starts at $65 for enough paint to cover a 30 sq. ft. area, so this stuff runs about 80% the price of the stick-on types, with the advantage that you can easily cover odd-shaped walls or surfaces. There’s also something kinda cool about being able to write all over what otherwise appear to be normal walls.
The installation process looks pretty simple: just clean, paint, re-coat, and let it dry. If you want something other than white, they offer a clear version of the dry erase paint, which you can apply over normal paint colors of your choice.
This is the old standby. Showerboard, a white-coated high-density fiberboard designed for use in building super-cheap showers, actually works as a mostly-passable whiteboard. I say “mostly” because if you leave marker writing on the board for more than a day or so, it starts to seep in and become permanent. The advantage to this method is that it’s cheaper than dirt: you can score a 4′ x 8′ sheet from your local big box for around $15. Just don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re really dry erase boards. They’re not. Still, some folks have come up with interesting ways of cleaning them. Personally, the few times I did this (once in college and once in a really, really cheap office) I just pulled the boards down and replaced them when someone forgot to erase ’em.
I’m interested to see if the Whiteyboard products hold up well, especially the paint. If we get a chance, we’ll do a test. Do any of you have experience with this stuff?