DIY White Boards – so CHEAP!

I was so surprised this week when I asked my colleagues if they knew about how to make super easy and cheap white boards out of white panelboards. They did not know! So I thought some of you may not know! Here’s the scoop:

Go to Lowe’s or Home Depot (lumber store) and locate the White Panelboards (in the paneling section of the store).
It is 4 ft by 8ft which cuts into 24 pieces of white board (12 inches by 16 inches).
Did you know that they will cut it for you?  It is just a couple bucks extra and bam!  You have 24 white boards ready to go for under $15.  Can’t beat it!
 Just use kleenex or paper towels as easers!

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Comments

  1. A quick and easy alternative is also to run an sheet of white card in the laminator. Done! You might even chose a different color for fun.

    • Katricia says:

      That is an awesome idea!

    • Heather says:

      I love this idea! Also, I hot glue pom poms on the lids of their dry erase markers (the fine tip ones) for my students to use as an eraser that is attached to the marker. It’s so easy and it won’t get lost. Works great!

      • Sally says:

        Love the pom pom idea! Brilliant!

    • Cheryl says:

      The only problem is that they don’t work. You can’t erase the dry erase markers.. I went to Home Depot followed your instructions and it DOES NOT WORK. I am annoyed.

      • Sally says:

        Cheryl,

        I am wondering if it is the same board or if the markers were different – because I have done this method for years with no problem. It has always worked like a charm. I am going to go to Home Depot and see if the quality has declined – I am curious now.

        • Michelle says:

          This used to work well but they changed something with the boards. They no longer erase well. My original boards from 15 years ago work well. We have also used the large boards to replace our chalkboards, but that becomes frustrating since they no longer erase well.

          • Sally says:

            One of the comments above has nailed the issue – the boards have a different name than before. I need to go and search it out and test it — then report back!

      • Jo says:

        I’ve done or for years, it works! Make sure you only use black dry erase markers. Also don’t use any cleaning products on it.

        • Sally says:

          Great advice! Another reader suggested covering the edges with pretty duct tape that she found at the dollar store.

      • Barb says:

        I had the same problem with the boards not erasing well. I found out it was the markers I was using. I had gone to the Dollar Store and purchased cheap dry erase markers that came 3 to a pack. So I paid $10 for 30 markers as opposed to $30 for 30 markers at Staples. Used the cheap markers and the blue and red smeared. I used dry erase board spray to get most of the smear off but will try some of the suggestions on this blog. My school had some of the markers from Staples and guess what. i tried a red one. Not only did it not smear, the entire marking erased AND it erased the red film left by the Dollar Store markers. So you can go cheap on the board but invest in the dry erase markers. I noticed they had the same kind at Wal-Mart. The brand name for the good dry erase markers was Expo.

        • Sally says:

          Thank you so much for the tip!

    • Shari Mackin says:

      I always used the heavy mil sheet protectors (Costco has the best price) with white/colored paper in them for my kiddos. Comes clean and kids can take them home in their binders. My husband is a C-6 (millwork and cabinetry) contractor, talked him into make small boards for my students and used them for years. This year, talked the dear into using panel board on classroom tables (he will glue the board and router it smooth onto the current table surface) this year for group work and see how that goes. Thinking I can have them take a picture and send their work to me or post the work to Google classroom.

  2. Miss J says:

    What a great idea!! Just found your blog and am loving it!!

    Miss J
    Smiles, Crayons, and Endless Stories

  3. dkteacher says:

    you can also use plastic plate like the paper plate kind.

  4. Thanks for this great idea. I’ll have to remember it.

  5. YES! I love the laminated paper and have used it (sooo cheap too!) The cool thing about the panelboard is that it does not get the build up of marker smear that laminated items tend to do. But, of course, with laminated paper it is so easy to just make more!

    I have not done the plastic plate idea! How cool! Does it get smeary build up?

    • Barb Findlay says:

      We use Melaleuca cleaning products in our school. They have a cleaner called Sol-U-Mel. A few drops of this cleaning solution on a kleenex or papertowel will wipe the marker residue/buildup right off the laminate and it will look brand new. i also use this on our white wipe off boards when they occasionally have colour residue left behind after repeated usage. Sol-U-Mel, when diluted with water is an excellent spray disinfectant that is safe for the children to use when cleaning their tables and classroom surfaces!

      • Sally says:

        Great tip! Love it!

      • Kenya says:

        Thanks! I use their laundry detergent, and haven’t tried any of their other products. Can’t wait to try this!

  6. Love the inexpensive way to get more white boards. Kids love them so much! Are the edges rough when they are cut at the store? Thanks for this great idea. Renee

    • I had Lowe’s cut them for me so there were some boards with “not perfect” edges. They warned me that their saw was not the best choice for this panel. I do not have access to a saw so I went with it! I will say – it is pretty darn good even with the big saw.

      If you have a handy man in your life – you can get perfect boards!

      • Mandy says:

        if you want to “dress” them up or fix the rough edges, cute duck tape words great!

        • @TaraVatSLC- college prof stealing k-12 ideas! says:

          Awesome IDEA! I just got mine cut and agree the edges can be rough. Went to the dollar store to get cute duct tape and my students can personlize their boards and markers to match! Thanks everyone for the inspiration!!!

          • Sally says:

            The children will love that! It will be easy for them to identify their own as well as give them ownership! Who doesn’t love fancy duct tape?

    • Anonymous says:

      I love this inexpensive idea! I am going to go to Lowe’s ASAP and get me some. This would be great for a brainstorming session with the children. Sally you amaze me daily.Keep the ideas coming!

      Love, love, love your blog,
      Holly 🙂

  7. Jill says:

    They hold up too, I’ve had mine for a while (15-16?)years. Yikes, I’m old. A bit Scratchy on front, but still going. Or I’m too cheap to replace them.. I have the rough velco tab on the back that I stick a felt square to for an eraser. And a binder clip on top makes it a clipboard. Sanding edges for a few seconds is all it needs, if that. I have sharp corners too and no one minds (until tomorrow..). I also use the dollar store 3pack micro fiber face cleaner disks? Circle things… As erasers. Not so good with the velcro, but they are a class favorite. Have fun 🙂

    • Oh my word – you are a fountain of wonderful information! I never thought to add a binder clip! Brilliant! And the microfiber face cleaner disks from the dollar store!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your wisdom!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      You can also make it even more multi-purpose by spray painting the backs with chalkboard paints or even making a chalkboard substance such as this… (http://www.attemptingaloha.com/2011/02/how-to-make-your-own-chalkboard-paint.html)

      At least, that’s what I plan on doing with the set I make for my classroom next year! 🙂

      • Rebecca says:

        I am currently in the process of making some multi-purpose whiteboards: spraypainting the backs white and duct taping gel boards to them. White boards on one side, gel boards on the back-a perfect lap activity!

        • jessica says:

          Gel boards? Do tell! This sounds interesting!

        • Jenny Baker says:

          What is a gelboard?

      • Cindy Dozier says:

        I tried the spray chalk board paint at Lowes and do NOT recommend it! I was pretty upset that it was basically just black spray paint in a can and nothing else. I had to go to Walmart and in the craft section is a bottle of chalkboard paint. You roll it on with a roller generously making sure it is even. Let it dry 24hrs. Then repeat. (I repeated 3x) It worked perfectly! And for the exact same price I paid for the can at Lowes but have lots left over in the bottle. I’ll know next time though where to purchase it from.

        • Sally says:

          Thanks for that tip! Now we all know!

  8. Anonymous says:

    how about taping the edges? I’ve seen some really neat duct tape!

  9. MrsW says:

    I use old or odd socks as erasers for whiteboards. It’s a more eco friendly and there’s always a constant supply from the laundry basket!

    • Amy says:

      Socks also work great for storing the markers!

  10. Liz Mccaw says:

    Hello, we all have so many great tips! I picked up a baby receiving blanket at our local thrift store and cut it up into twenty wipes. They are fantastic and was like a dream!

    I have awarded you the Lovely Blog Award. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful tips! Liz McCaw 🙂
    @ http://crazyforkindergarten68.blogspot.com/

  11. This is so great! I am your newest follower!

    michelle

    Apples and ABC’s

  12. dlmerts says:

    My daughter is teaching summer school and has to bring her own supplies (she student taught last year and doesn’t have a classroom yet). We went tonight to Home Depot and got the board cut for my daughter. They didn’t even charge us to cut the boards AND bonus, we got 10% off for military discount. The guy told us he did this for his kids and put a big board on their walls for them to draw on. Thanks for the idea!!!!! I have passed it on to my teacher friends.

  13. Mr. Wittmer says:

    This post was a great one as I just returned from Lowes with new whiteboards ready to go. I told the store employee what was cutting them that I was a teacher and he in turn didn’t charge me for cutting the boards. I’m going to run over to Five Below the next few days and try to duct tape the edges to show which board goes with each table. Just another way to keep the edges clean and boards in one area. Thanks for sharing this great idea.

  14. Anonymous says:

    OMG what a great idea. I am a teacher and have been using laminated sheets but the build up of marker crud is aweful. As a thought, my daughter’s teacher uses baby socks as erasers.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Some awesome extra tips on here in the comments too! I would have to say, I totally see half my class on any given year picking at the duct tape and peeling it off, which would make a yucky mess. Love the binder clip idea! I had purchased clipboards at the dollar store and put contact paper on the back so it would be white board on one side, then I put chalkboard sticky paper on the clipboard side so it’s three in one. The kids started to peel both sticky papers off…sheesh!!! So this board painted on the back with chalkboard paint and a binder clip seems like a better solution.

  16. eyorteach says:

    Just finished mine! Thanks for the great idea. Love the binder clip idea and Velcro with felt on the back.

  17. Jennifer Willes says:

    Used dryer sheets are also great for cleaning your white boards – cheap and easy to replace. They seem to clean better than socks.

    • Sally says:

      Great tip!! Thank you!

  18. Leslie Ryan says:

    I love the panel idea – I have also used old dryer sheets for erasers and they work well. Now, any ideas about the markers? They dry out so fast and our school does not buy them. Some luck with the erasable crayons, but they don’t erase as well.

    • Lisa Hughes says:

      The teacher in the room next to me has a seal-able plastic baggy for each of the students that holds their eraser ( a shop cloth) and their marker. Her students don’t seem to need new markers throughout the year. I am going to try it after Christmas brake.

    • Angela says:

      Be sure to save all the dried up markers’ lids when you throw away a marker. I keep all the extra lids in a baggie for the inevitable- “I can’t find my lid!”

      • Sally says:

        That is a genius idea! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Julie says:

    I purchased the wipe-off pockets & have used 4 yrs now. They were inexpensive and what I like about them is I can keep a blank paper in them to use as a board or I can put worksheets in the pocket and use them over and over.

  20. Nina says:

    I made mine this way too, years ago, and they are all holding up great. For erasers, try cutting black felt into 6×6 squares. It fits easily into their pencil box, and look great all along. I’ve used the same ones for 5 years now!

    • Sally says:

      Nina – great tip for erasers! Love it!

      • susan brooks says:

        You can hot glue a pom pom to the end of your marker….. works great! And it doesn’t get lost!

        • Sally says:

          Great idea!

  21. Kim says:

    I haven’t tried it with other boards but when our real whiteboard was used with permanent marker I used hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol to clean it and allll the old marker came off perfectly

    • Carrie says:

      If you accidentally use a permanent marker (like a Sharpie) on your white board, just trace over it with a white board pen and it wipes right off! Also, if you have a white board that starts getting to where it doesn’t want to erase completely, clean it and then spray it with WD-40. Once you wipe that off your whiteboard will be as good as new! 🙂

  22. JaelynRae says:

    If you put a thin piece of sheet metal (also super cheap at Lowes) behind the white panel board, you can make it magnetic – for boards that are mounted on the wall. 🙂 I think I spent less than $40 for a huge 4×8 whiteboard for our homeschool classroom. If I had purchased an actual whiteboard of that size, it would have easily cost $300+.

    It held up really well for about a year. When it started leaving marker stains (I use both dry and wet erase pens), I cleaned it really well with bleach, and sprayed the entire surface with several coats of clear sealer. Note: Do not clean a whiteboard with bleach unless you plan on sealing it after, as the bleach strips off the gloss surface.

    Tips: Test the sheet metal in the store though. I made that mistake and had to go back because I happened to grab one that wasn’t magnetic at all, and found that different types offered different magnetic strengths. Also, when adhering the sheet metal, use something strong and only apply it to the edges. I used LockTight and it worked great. Then I made a pretty framed border from crown molding that I found on clearance.

    • Jenny Baker says:

      Wow! We bought a large chalkboard for our kids years ago,but soon realuzed that it was not meant for colored chalk. We then learned later that our third child is asthmatic.

      So, today. I decided to figure out how to transform it into a whiteboard. I called HomeDepot, but their panelboards are NOT magnetic. The metal sheeting is a perfect solution! Exactly what kind of whiteboard material did you buy that let the magnetic proprties behind it work? Was the metal sheeting cut for you?

  23. Kim says:

    Our local Lowe’s store now sells whiteboard paint by the quart.
    By using the paint, you could make anything into a white board!

    That’s my next project for my class — I want to use the whiteboard
    paint on a larger size piece of wood, add a decorative frame around
    it – for our classroom entrance to announce the “special days”
    i.e. birthdays, special guests, etc.

  24. Alison says:

    I just had a thought: If you had this cut into bigger squares, you could have project whiteboards that would allow several students to use these at once! Just push their desks together, and you have a dry-erase table! Great for collaboration!!

  25. LindaJean says:

    for magnetic board…simply use a cookie sheet (of course, test first to see if it will hold a magnet…most do)

    • CJ says:

      I bought Dollar Tree cookie sheets this year for my classroom. They come in several sizes but I bought the smallest size. A 9″x12″piece of construction paper fits nicely inside the tray. The magnetic strengthof these trays is great. We use our trays for lots of purposes.

      I love all the dry erase suggestions as well! My kids love dry erase boards and I have purchased some and have used the laminate ideas, but the economic value of this idea is most appealing. I know what my next diy project after the holidats is! Thank you everyone for the great suggestions!

      • Alysia Duncanson says:

        I was just wondering about the cookie sheets at the Dollar Tree. I would like to paint some with white board paint.
        What do you think?
        I teach math at all grade levels and I am looking for new ways to reach more students with less money.

  26. Casey Chote says:

    What kind of markers work best on this, dry erase?

  27. Beth says:

    i bought one panel is 2002 and had 24 boards cut. My students ARE STILL using those same boards. They look good, write, and erase easily. Definitely a great use of money!

  28. rebecca says:

    Empty DVD cases. Store a cloth inside and you have a great white boards

    • Jenny Baker says:

      You would have to stick a piece of white paper in first, so that the pens show up OR buy the bright gliw in the dark pens…..

      Ooooohhhhh, what about getting some metal sheeting to put inthe cover to make it magnetic? This would only work if you could have it cut to thise sizes.

  29. lindsay says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love this idea and would love to use it in my office. any suggestions for how to put it up on a wall for the challenged crafter over here? =) thanks girls!

    also thought my blog (for school admin/teachers/principals) would be a good fit to share here as well about ways to stay in touch online with students/parents. http://on.fb.me/1PC76DR

  30. Heather says:

    Great idea! Did you know that you can write on your small group reading table that was shown in the pictures? My table erases like a white board and I wipe it with a Lysol wipe at the end of the day.

  31. Lucy Gray says:

    It is really a great idea, i have not tried it but i will try .

  32. I bought the boards and cut them. Any ideas of how to get the dry erase markers off them? The markers just smear all over the boards. Maybe I bought the wrong type.

    • Oops I bought the boards and had them cut.

    • Sally says:

      Shelley – I have never had that problem. Hum. I wonder if it is a different board quality. I will look at Lowes to see if it is the same quality as my last purchase two years ago. That is all I can think. Socks and tissues work perfectly on my set.

  33. Wow, this is a perfect activity to keep the kids occupied during summer. I’ve been trying to be more creative with ideas and this will be perfect. We could even play a home-made version of pictionary with these whiteboards. Thanks!
    http://www.vistavisuals.com.au

  34. Colleen says:

    Like Julie, I have used plastic sheet protectors with a page of cardstock in each to make a quick and lightweight erasable surface for deskwork. I have an issue with storage space where I work so the more compact and portable, the better. We use dry erase markers and I cut up a few sheets of felt paper for the erasers. Black or blue markers come off easily, but other colors (especilly red) leave a stain. A damp towel makes everything fresh and new again!
    I love all the great ideas here and am planning to borrow a few for September! 🙂

  35. Meliss Eckhardt says:

    I did ths years ago and was told to wax them with car wax every summer and they will erase easier. Also, I used painters tape around the edge to keep it nice. After wear and tear it does come off and leave icky sticky residue but just replace it with a new edge. Great idea and thank you for sharing with others.

    • Sally says:

      Great tip! Will have to try it!

  36. zulfah says:

    Great ideas!!

  37. MARIA says:

    Thank you so much, because I need 30 white boards, for my students. 🙂

  38. mandy falgout says:

    i use cut up felt pieces for erasers and it’s awesome.

  39. peg horn says:

    Another suggestion I have used on my wall so it could work on the back of the white boards made from the panel sheet is I painted my wall with magnetic paint and painted over that with chalkboard paint. So the children can write on it with chalk or place magnetic letters and shapes on it.

  40. Belle says:

    Our whiteboard just worn out so it needs replacing, and this idea is the best option. Thanks for the idea. For sure my kids will love this. 🙂

  41. Laura Zoumberis says:

    Just an FYI: Lowe’s and Home Depot now call this material “smooth white hardboard”. The dimensions are the same and it is the same material, but neither store, at least in my area, carries anything called panelboard.

    • Laura Zoumberis says:

      Also, the Kagan website store sells really nice mini erasers for the best price I’ve found.

      • Sally says:

        Thanks for the tip!

    • Sally says:

      Oh my gosh! You are an angel! I wondered what the issue was! Phew! Mystery solved!

  42. Michelle says:

    FYI, I haven’t done this yet but another article on doing whiteboards this way mentioned they sometimes have a protective coating you need to peel off before using them as a whiteboard. If you’re having a problem with them not erasing, it’s probably worth seeing if you have something clear you can peel off since they’d be fair useless otherwise anyway. 😉

  43. Lyndsi says:

    I tried to do this last week, and the guy at Lowes told me they couldn’t cut it because their saw was too big and it would break the board…did you have this issue?

    • Sally says:

      I am so sorry! Our Lowe’s folks did it for me. Do you have another place? Perhaps a parent might cut them for you! Good Luck!

  44. Tammy says:

    I purchased my $15 shower board 10 years ago, my first year of teaching. Our school janitor cut them for me. Last year I stared putting a few in my prize box, because needless to say, I need to replace them. They have been well worth the money! My erasers–socks that have lost their match, whether mine or my students, too.

  45. Tricia says:

    If you use baby wipes as erasers it helps cleans up nicely and the lanolin in them helps to keep them working properly.

  46. J-Dog says:

    Put a coat of car wax on it and buff it off before using it for the first time. It will clean off a lot easier.

    • Sally says:

      Great idea! I never have heard that handy trick!

  47. gillian says:

    Old socks work wonders to clean off the boards.

  48. Kimberly Rose says:

    I teach in a high school and have found that recycling beaten up binders works great too! Any binders students leave behind (or that you can find on the last day of school) that are too beaten up to reuse and have the clear plastic for sliding in a cover page work great! Just cut out the middle section with the ring binder, slide in a white sheet of paper and tape down the open edge and you’ve got yourself a dry erase board.

    For a less sturdy option, you can also use clear page protectors and a sheet of paper too.

    • Sally says:

      Great tip!

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