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Shower Board as a white Board

Dry erase boards are really cool; I find them really remarkable.

Be sure you have removed the protective film!

Don't laugh - I failed to do this with a new board - it had some green text that I removed with solvent - but the white board was very hard to erase. Looking at it very closely revealed nothing. It wasn't until I was googling for information on a replacement that I ran into a note about protective film.

I took a sharp knife and made a hole in the coating - removed it with some difficulty - and now it works fine!

Why not do this the easy way?

If you are wanting to go with a paint on substance, use 1 of two items. Either use White Engine enamal available from any autoparts store for about $7 a can, or go to your favorite DIY store (Menards, Lowes, Home Depot) and for about $24 you can purchase the "Bathtub reglaze kit" which is a ceramic epoxy kit, and will not break down like the other surfaces.

Dry-Erase Solution

Apparently some shower boards are better than others - If you have brand part number information please share - also if you know what real White boards use for a finish I would like to know. It is clear that porcelain or glass is the best surface, but not cheap.

I bought some white Shower-stall laminate to use as White board. It runs just under $10/(4 x 8' sheet) (as of 2001). The problem I ran into is that if the dry-erase sat on the White board for more than a few days it became almost impossible to erase. I tried several different brands - the Expo II seemed the worst, but they all had problems. I have also seen where other folks had problems - where the board got darker and darker as they used it - perhaps staining?.

Things that don't work

( Looked at the Expo site - but there is not any useful information other than the MSDS sheets)

Use "Goof-off" to wipe off permanent marker from the white board, this works perfectly.

What Works

The first job is to get the dryerase off - Expo makes a "White Board Cleaner" but it is sort of pricey for jus 2 oz. so I checked the ingredients:

2-Butoxy Ethanol/Acetate, Isopropyl Alcohol (MSDS Sheet says water, isopropyl alcohol (67-63-0),ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (111-76-2)) and figured that "Goof Off 2" (available at Wal-Mart). MAKE SURE YOU GET GOOF OFF 2 - The other one may ruin your board!

Goof off 2 also contains Glycol ethers (111-76-2) and Propanol (notice the (111-76-2) CAS-number* is in both product as well as an alcohol solvent. - With the Goof off 2 product you get 16 oz for about the same price and it does the job. A little elbow work and the board gets clean again - even cleans off indelible markers (laundry markers, sharpies, rub-a-dub) used by mistake!

Simple green is the fastest remover of dry erase markers on shower board, you don't need to put any effort into scrubbing, just spray and wipe off.

Wiping down with a bounce fabric softener sheet - this works!!!
I tried wiping down the board with bounce sheets and it left a residue that made the whiteboard markers stick worse than before. Isopropyl Alcohol is definitely the way to clean it. A little bit of car wax will help if the markers stick.
All PG had was blank MDS sheets - if anyone knows for sure - not guesses - please post it here.

Originally, fabric sheets/softeners are made with animal fat, hence the slick effects.

I've had great success using citrus-based non-toxic general cleaners you find in any drug or hardware store. Works great.

I accidentally wrote on my showerboard/whiteboard with permanent marker and got it off easily with OUST air deodorizer I have been using rubbing alcohol on my white board (shower board) for 20 years now, never had a problem removing dry-erase marker no matter how long it's been there - clean as a whistle!

Using rubbing alcohol works. I just did it after having the dry-erase marker writing on the shower board for a couple of months. I usually wipe off pretty quickly with the dry -erase eraser. But this time I left it on for some time. I tried to use the dry erase eraser but I needed to use a lot of force to rub off the ink on the board. Upon the google search, I found this page and the rubbing alcohol works great. Not sure if it will damage the board in the long run, but the guy above says 20 years, so I'll report back.

You can buy this from Lowe's. It comes in 48" x 96" sheets for around $11/sheet: DPI 1/8"D x 4'W x 8'H White Hardboard Wall Panel Part# 16605

The best way to get permanent marker off of a dry erase wall: Draw over the permanent marker with a dry erase marker–or use hand sanitizer and wipe with a tissue.

Manufactures of dry-erase Markers

THIS WORKS to clean both dry erase boards and shower boards. Wright's Silver Cream. You can find it at your local grocery store or pharmacy. Really, it works like a dream. Cleans the board very well from faded marks.

CAS numbers

(67-63-0) is a CAS number that identifies both isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol, which is a good thing see as they are the same chemical solvent. The CAS number is what identifies a chemical (a solvent in our case) - even if the name varies.

The solvents in the pens themselves varies a bit:

It appears that most everything is soluble in isopropol or Glycol ethers (111-76-2)

From a reader

I work for DOD as a civilian instructor, many of our classrooms use shower board. When they get bad, use lacquer thinner on a rag and rub, works every time and will not hurt the finish. Sincerely B. E.

From another reader

Georgia Pacific makes a Wainscott called Mark R Board (48"x32"), which I bought at Lowes for about $10. There may be other sizes available, but this was the only size in stock.

But in looking around I found a company that specializes in whiteboards, and noticed that they talked about poly... Hmmm...
I have also recently done some research into wood finishes and paint. Seems to me that a wipe-on polyurethane might work for this. I just thought of it and haven't tried it, but it seems reasonable. Wouldn't take a thick coat, but
probably want to wipe on more than one coat to get some durability.

[I tried a generic polyurethane varnish - It wouldn't erase.]

In my research I also found that Minwax is a rather soft poly, and one of the hardest is Varathane Professional. In this application, I'm torn. I tend to want to think that a harder surface would be best. One of the reasons for that is that a harder poly can be hand rubbed to a nice smooth finish, and I would think that would be desirable for a whiteboard.

[I sure hope someone tries this and will share their results - I'm thinking an epoxy might be the way to go?]

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.

[Yep - they are the best]

It simply lasts forever and never streaks. If you use it a lot, it cannot be worth it to spend valuable time struggling with cheap whiteboard surfaces. Still, the idea intrigues me if a good surface could be had as cheaply as shower board...

Seems to me there might be a cheap source of porcelain on steel? If you find one please share it here]

What about Teflon fabric coatings (Scotchguard)? It lasts for quite some time on fabric...

[Please somebody try this and let us know if it works! ]

You'd think so. I will let you know if I find one. I'll be outfitting a new office in the next few weeks and will be looking for solutions. Here is a list of companies that do porcelain on steel for various industries:

The other thing that works well, and I am using currently, is the plastic sheets that cling to the walls. I'm using the Avery "Write-On Cling Sheets" and they work great. The surface erases like porcelain, with no hint of marker residue a week later. The sheets are 27" x 32" and cost about a buck a sheet (in a pad of 20). Just be careful when ripping them off the pad, as it's easy to start it tearing in the wrong direction.

Basically, they are the cheapest whiteboard surface there is, and don't have all the problems of the showerboard. But perhaps the showerboard as a backing would be good to provide a smoother surface. That does not give exactly the same full surface as the shower-board, but for the price and effort involved, you do get an exceptionally nice writing surface. If you carefully trimmed
this stuff and installed it sideways, you could use 6 of them to cover a 4' x 8' showerboard. One pack would do three showerboards, so for about $50 you would have three 4' x 8' surfaces. There will be seams of course, but overall not too bad for the price! (just don't mount them too close to a forced air heat register or they will get blown off the surface; at least they did on the wall for me) So this might actually be the best way to use showerboards for whiteboards.

From Yet another reader

...Another interesting material that can be used as dryerase boards,
believe it or not, is GLASS. We had a conference room with little windows
that always had something or other on them. Cleans up real nice, too...

More reader feedback

While looking around the Web today, I came across some information about this. The author lists the Solid White Tile board (aka Melamine) as the cheaper solution and available at your favorite home improvement center. The commercial grade the author mentions is ceramic coated metal, called P3 Ceramicsteel. In addition to the list mentioned above, this author lists Polyvision as a retailer of ceramic over metal whiteboards.

I make my own dry erase boards using the white board.I make and sell boards both magnetic and non magnetic boards . Last as long as porcelain for a fraction of the cost. When you clean white boards (melimine) you remove some of the coating thus the ghosting. You can clean boards with Nail polish remover.

From Yet another reader

Very interesting material. I'm in the process of building a little activity desk for my kid and am going to build the table surface with melamine coated particle board. The kind they sell for shelving at Menards. I'm sure I'll have problem with ghosting.

I did see a cool product in the paint aisle though. Rustoleum makes a two part epoxy coating that can be painted on to produce a dry erase surface. I haven't tried this personally, but figure should deliver better results than just melamine, since it should produce a smoother harder surface. So I figure if I'm unsatisfied with the melamine surface I build for this table, I'll just finish over it with this stuff. Only problem is that this product costs $20. A bit pricy just to mix up for a 2' x 2' surface.

[a different reader commenting on above] Warning: The product reviews for the "Rustoleum Dry Erase" paint have been horrid across the board (pun intended) with regards to ghosting and erase-ability (and also installation). I haven't tried it, but from what I've heard from multiple sources, it's likely to work no better than a shower board (in some cases it will be far worse). You can check the product on Amazon for reviews, or Google it.

From another reader May 2009

I read many people's accounts of finding this shower board cheap at Home Depot. I am planning on using it as part of a robotics competition game board so I don't need anything fancy.

[a different reader commenting on above] I purchased this material from Home Depot in 2005 for $10 for a 4x8 sheet, and it worked well. The current stock (can't verify part number) is slightly less slick, with a minor amount of texture, just enough to keep the marker from being fully erasable. We have found that with a lot of elbow grease and the EXPO cleaner you can get it off, but it's not a practical solution in my opinion as it becomes time-consuming, messy, and costly (isn't that why we ditched chalk?).

I have used the Rustoleum brush on white board and it is a mess. It is more economical to just purchase the shower board. You have to sand the surface with the Rustoleum and paint on several coats. It does erase well and doesn't leave a smooth surface. I will cover my boards this year with just plain shower board.

From Yet another reader

A convenient way to remove permanent marker from white boards is to go over the permanent markings with dry erase markers. The chemicals in the dry erase marker dissolve the permanent marker. Simply wipe the reside away as normal. This works on all white boards.....I've shown it to a number of people and it works every time.

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