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Page history last edited by Bestow 10 years ago

Thanks to everyone who responded – I received a bunch of ideas. I’ve thrown the results together here, and added links I stumbled across along the way.






- the consensus is that “porcelain-on-steel” is the best whiteboard surface (unsurprisingly, also the most expensive)

- some people say they’ve had good luck with HD tile/showerboard, others say not – results vary with cleaning frequency & brand of markers.

- tileboard suggestion: use Rain-X regularly to treat the surface and maintain it’s eraseability

- glass is a great, “high end” surface, but expensive (and possibly a safety hazard)

- plastic (acrylic, polycarb) may work – but there’s not much supporting evidence one way or the other

- paint - haven't tried it


Useful Links for General Information

- Good design-oriented summary page: http://www.kk.org/cooltools/archives/000679.php

- Here’s a guy who experimented with a bunch of alternative materials (some good, some miserable): http://rumkin.com/reference/whiteboard/

- Here’s another rambling (but good) summary of a bunch of tips & tricks: http://xtronics.com/reference/whiteboard.htm

- Nice installation pic: http://www.cs.swarthmore.edu/program/facil/map/whiteboard.html


Porcelain-on-steel (provides magnetic surface also)

- Having spent the last decade teaching on whiteboards all day long, and as far as I can tell enameled steel is the best.

- But there is a trade-off between money saved and time spent. I worked at a company making an electronic whiteboard and learned something about them. It became clear to me that if at all possible, porcelain on steel is the way to go (from http://xtronics.com/reference/whiteboard.htm )

- Given my way-more-than-I-care-to-admit-to experience with whiteboard design, I recommend porcelain coated steel if you can afford it and you can find a vendor to supply it in the size you need. PolyVision (IDEO's sister co. and client) is the 500lb gorilla of the architectural whiteboard business. Everything else stains and looks crappy pretty quickly.

- I think what you’re looking for is actually called Porcelain enameled steel. Same stuff the top of your stove is made out of. Well my stove anyway. Try a Thomas register search and you should find some sources. Here’s a source a friend claims to have used…



Polyvision (a Steelcase company)

4888 S. Old Peachtree Rd.

Norcross, GA 30071

Phone: 770-447-5043, 800-631-4514 (toll free)

Fax: 770-446-5951



- Full Height Markerboard (FHM) walls: http://www.polyvision.com/media/product_sheets/Full-Height-Marker-Walls.pdf - sheets are “splined” together at the seams with what looks to be a long metal strip in a rabbet

- Polyvision distributor: http://www.electronicwhiteboardswarehouse.com/polyvision/polivision_edge.htm

- the best quality whiteboard is porcelain steel. the downside is it's almost impossible to field cut a clean edge (so batten or trim is used to cover the seams). i think that the first 3 below are all porcelain steel:



- polyvision 510.263.4100 (i'm pretty sure this was used at lunar)

- dryeraseboard.com (they also make a peel/stick non steel version)

- optima 866.366.1500

- lunar whiteboard was installed by:


Fred E Turner Co.

429 Littlefield Ave.

So. SF 94080

PH: 650-588-8883

The field rep. Was John Varley: cell-415-725-4924, feturner_at_pacbell.net

- Eric Bloom at Fred E. Turner says he's not using too much Polyvision any more - apparently they are a PITA to deal with. He is installing mostly Platinum Visual Systems porcelain-on-steel now. This looks promising: http://www.pvsusa.com/home.html A ballpark estimate was for $2626 for two walls meeting in a corner, one 80", the other 160", spline joints between panels, aluminum trim all around outside, hidden screws top and bottom, bonded to wall, 2 outlet + 2 wall switch cutouts, installed and with tax. Panels to be 8' tall. Eric stocks 4x6, 4x8, and 4x10 (ft) sheets. Sheets are backed by 1/2" particleboard. Edges would be unfinished if not for the recommended aluminum trim.


Other Porcelain-on-Steel supplier links

- Magnatag: http://www.magnatag.com/page/WW/board/whiteboard-wall-panels/#works – note the finished edges/seams – I think this is the only option that has it. Note that surface is “porcelain-like”- whatever that means.

- Bulk sheet, edges not finished: http://www.dryeraseboard.com/resurfacing.html and http://www.dryeraseboard.com/resurfacing-porcelain-steel-1-4--panels---markerboard.html

- Bulk wall material: http://www.magneticconcepts.com/magnetic_panels.htm (note that they DO sell frameless panels: “Whiteboard Skin only - plain surface whiteboards (porcelain whiteboard on steel with no backing) are available for re-surfacing applications, sizes up to 4'x8', price is 60% of panel prices below” – unfinished edges

- IKEA sells small (roughly 3' x 2') enamel on steel boards - not what your looking for, but nice for an office.


Whiteboard “wallpaper” (a.k.a. “walltalkers”)

- Walltalkers (www.walltalkers.com) is a very slick option. It's essentially whiteboard wallpaper, available from local distributers in a variety of styles. Not cheap, as I recall: perhaps $30+ per yard in 48" wide rolls. I've only seen it professionally installed, and there seemed to be a fair amount of wall prep and finishing.

- at IDEO our walls are covered with Walltakers sheets. I'm not sure which product it is, but Erase-rite looks pretty close. it's a flexible sheet that comes in rolls and is smoothed on like wallpaper then trimmed. works pretty well.

- IDEO is using Walltalkers in a lot of project rooms and conf rooms because it's cheap, can be easily custom fit, and doesn't require ugly frames or a lot of trim-out. It won't last like porcelain and stains a bit. It goes on like window tinting film.

- We used this product: http://www.walltalkers.com/ We've had it up for about 8 years and are starting to think about redoing it (getting hard to erase) but it sounds cheaper than porcelain on steel. we did floor to ceiling walls with it.

- korseal/magwrite 800.935.9359 makes a whiteboard "wallpaper"

- Whiteyboard.  No experience with it. http://www.whiteyboard.com/


12 x 18 inches $10


2 x 3 feet  $15


3.3 x 6 feet  $30


WhiteyNotes  10 sheets(3x3in) of dry-erase adhesive sticker with one black marker. It is a post-it size  $5

Whitey Kitchen Pads 10 sheets(5.5x8.5in) of dry-erase adhesive sticker with one black marker. $8


Tileboard (aka “showerboard”)

- We plastered that stuff all over the d.school last year and the showerboard crap from Depot was the only financially sensible thing to do... especially since the place was a prototype. You can purchase edged material that works better, but the showerboard costs 1/10th of the price and actually does erase well as long as the board is cleaned somewhat regularly and you use good markers. The thing you definitely want to avoid however is any vinyl material... that stuff doesn't erase worth anything. Home Depot showerboard may also be referred to as melamine in the store and most of the employees don't know where you find it (usually stacked horizontally in a bin under the vertical lumber pieces). A few panhead screws and a lot of liquid nails was our trick (keep the boards from warping) and went up like wildfire! In an office setting frequent erasing is invaluable and my uber trick is Rain-X -- get some rain-x spray or wipes from a car parts store and have the cleaning guys put that on once a week... then you're in business.

- The d.school has been using loads of this stuff called called "showerboard"... It might be the same stuff as your "tileboard".. We find that the stuff lasts about a year or two before the ghosting becomes unbearable.. And I'm pretty sure we've cleaned the greater Bay area out of the stuff..

- The “ghetto” home-depot whiteboard (4x8’ sheets) has worked pretty well in my experience. I did notice that some dry-erase pens worked better than others, and it helped to clean the boards with dry-erase board cleaner instead of just wiping it down.

- Cleaning concoctions: http://xtronics.com/reference/whiteboard.htm


- Water with micro-fiber towels really is the best cleaning combination... not just the most eco-friendly.

- Sourcing in SF Bay Area is best at Pine Cone Lumber in Sunnyvale and Discount Builders Supply in San Francisco.


Commercial “markerboard” (but only in smaller sizes):

- Georgia Pacific makes a Wainscott called Mark R Board (48"x32"), which I bought at Lowes for about $10 (from: http://xtronics.com/reference/whiteboard.htm and http://www.gp.com/build/PageViewer.aspx?repository=bp&elementid=4659 )



- You can also use glass that is frosted on the back, or placed up against a painted white wall in lieu or "whiteboard" stock also

- An office I work at has glass boards mounted to the walls in the conference rooms for writing on -- it looks much more stylish than a whiteboard, and seems to erase better, even after a long time. Maybe a little more expensive and heavy for a big piece of plate glass though. Good with a slight tint, or the wall behind it painted to whatever background color you want. Could also have a glass-topped conference room table I guess.



- abet laminati 510.567.1400 makes whiteboard plastic laminate (http://www.abet-laminati.it/primapagina/main.asp?inglese=1 - but good luck finding anything there...impenetrable site)

- A friend of mine had a cool, small board that he made by hanging a piece of polycarb and sticking a giant 3m pad on the back side when he wanted it to be opaque. Big sheets come in a lot more expensive though.

- Plexiglas works too...

- Acrylic DIY example: http://www.elephantstaircase.com/wiki/index.php?title=DIYDryEraseBoardb




In the end, I think I will explore the porcelain-on-steel options, starting with these:


- http://www.polyvision.com/media/product_sheets/Full-Height-Marker-Walls.pdf

- http://www.magnatag.com/page/WW/board/whiteboard-wall-panels/#works

- http://www.dryeraseboard.com/resurfacing-porcelain-steel-1-4--panels---markerboard.html

- http://www.magneticconcepts.com/magnetic_panels.htm




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