Cheap Whiteboard Solution

I love whiteboards.

I have even been known to reserve the nicest of my company’s conference rooms (executive board room) for hours at a time to use the 16′x4′ whiteboard for brainstorming.  Whiteboards are very useful for formulating ideas, especially if you are somewhat scatterbrained (like me). I have always wanted whiteboards at home in my office, but all of the dry erase products you can buy are too expensive, especially if they are a decent size.

TLDR;
I put 32 sq. feet of whiteboards in my office for $70, you could do it cheaper if you were more clever with the mounting or willing to cut up a bigger white board into sections yourself.

This weekend I decided I was going to buy whiteboards and put them in my home office. Originally I was expecting to get the adhesive type whiteboards, though I was somewhat apprehensive due to poor reviews about the quality. Someone at work has a few of these and they got them at Home Depot. I also knew that Home Depot had boards with the dry erase board finish on one side.

The odds seemed good that I could get what I needed there, and if not I could just order something online.

I opted into getting four 4′x2′ panels; even though I only had a 64″x40″ area to put them without it looking ridiculous. I knew I could get it to work or put some up on a different wall. The panels were $10 a piece, so that’s $40 so far; still much cheaper than other solutions I’ve seen.

Then I started thinking about how to mount them, I was hoping to be able to use the 3M strips but that was all dependent on the weight. It turned out that they are only 3 pounds a piece, which is right in the wheel house for the 3M strips.

While going through my stash of 3M strips I found the dual locking (they are basically like velcro if you aren’t familiar) strips and then a light bulb went off.

I could setup multiple available configurations, allowing me to move whiteboards to different locations as needed. The practical usefulness of this is still to be determined, but it sounds really cool anyway, so I did it.

Fortunately my local convenience store had just enough, so I bought everything on the shelf and went back home to assemble it. I got the large ones, they hold up to 16 pounds.  They were $5.99 a pack and I got 4 packs, but I had a packs worth at home, so the actual cost is 5 packs at $30.

Then at home the fun began. I knew that I wanted to be able to move the panels around, but where the heck would I put them?

I finalized on a location right by the entrance, which is where I got ‘approval’ for a whiteboard. This space I realized has enough room for two panels stack horizontally and a third next to them in a vertical orientation. There has been a 2′x1′ whiteboard just to the left of my desk on the wall which is pretty nice, so I looked at that space, and there was a 4′x4′ area I could use. This means I could fit up to two boards there as well.

The mounting itself was pretty straight forward, just be sure that the strips are aligned. I had to take a couple off and re-adhere them to better line them up. Also it is important that the strips have time to adhere; I put them up and then let them get stuck for about an hour before putting the boards back up.

The most annoying part of the process is that they put the price stickers on the dry erase side. Why? I have no idea. After taking off the sticker it left behind a lot of glue residue, which can’t be erased with the dry eraser (and ruins your markers as I found out).

A little googling yielded that vegetable oil is great at removing glue like this.

Here are the steps I took to remove the stickers.

  1. Put the board on the floor
  2. Place a generous amount of water on the sticker to make the sticker removal easier.
  3. Get a paper towel soaked with vegetable oil and rub it on the glue.
  4. There was still a little bit of glue left. I used the eraser to find it because the marker sticks to the glue.
  5. Using a wet cloth and your finger nail scrap glue loose.
  6. Then I repeated steps 3 – 5 as needed.

Now I have lots of white board surface on the walls in my office for a fairly cheap price of $70. Like I said before, this can be done for even less money if you were more clever or willing to do a little more work.

At Home Depot they also had an 8′x4′ white board that was $15, but they were all slightly damaged and the corners were bent. If you found a good one, or didn’t mind, and cut it into sections you could save $25 there.

Also after I got home I found out that you can buy the 3M dual locking material by the yard, which would undoubtedly be cheaper, though seeing as you only need about 1 yard, you might have to buy more than is needed so the saving might be diminished.

If you come up with any creations post a comment below with pictures, I would be interested in seeing what other people are doing.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have ideas to formulate on my whiteboards.

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