Do Your Homework When Choosing a Whiteboard

Whiteboards have become a standard classroom tool, and a significant amount of money is spent purchasing them — more than $1 billion per year in the United States alone.

Since there are so many types of whiteboards available, doing your homework before purchasing one can save a lot of time, money, and effort. The following questions are important factors to consider when purchasing a whiteboard.

1. Does the whiteboard carry a guarantee?

Guarantees vary widely from one whiteboard to the next, and one manufacturer’s version of a “surface guarantee” may be completely different from another manufacturer’s version.

It is impossible to look at a whiteboard the day it is installed and know whether or not it will look discolored two years later, so the key to protecting your investment and ensuring that you won’t have to replace your whiteboard is to read the details of the guarantee. Some surface guarantees cover scratching, but not staining, while other guarantees cover only workmanship defects.

It is hard to find a whiteboard with a true lifetime surface guarantee that covers staining, but they do exist. You can rest easy when purchasing a whiteboard with a genuine surface guarantee, because it is an indicator that the whiteboard will have a long life.

2. Does the surface resist staining?

The fact is, if marker residue is left on the board without daily cleanings, staining will often occur unless the surface is exceptional.

Many dry erase surfaces retain marker pigments. This leaves behind a discolored look known as “ghosting” or staining. The result is an unsightly whiteboard with remnants of writing from the past, and the reduced contrast makes it difficult for students to read the writing on the board. Many whiteboards are replaced after less than 10 years on the job, simply due to staining.

Can you prevent staining? That depends on the type of whiteboard you purchase.

Melamine whiteboards inevitably stain. Daily cleanings can prolong the life of such boards, but even with strict maintenance, this surface will not last very long with daily use. It is meant for light usage, and it is commonly found in dry erase boards designed for home use.

Porcelain whiteboards are higher in quality than melamine and make up the majority of whiteboards currently used in classrooms. They vary significantly in quality, and the purchase price does not necessarily correlate with the quality of the surface. Since there are so many different “recipes” that can be used to manufacture porcelain, the surface pores of porcelain can vary greatly, and these surface pores are what allow staining to occur. Since a glossy board has fewer surface pores than a whiteboard with a matte finish, as a general rule, the glossier the surface, the longer it will last without staining.

Yet another type of whiteboard is a hardcoat laminate. Fewer brands of this type of whiteboard are available. Hardcoat laminate boards are nonporous and do not allow marker ink to penetrate, so they do not have to be cleaned often to prevent staining. The downside of a hardcoat laminate surface is that it is more susceptible to scratching, so it should not be used in environments where vandalism is a problem.

As you can see, stain resistance varies greatly from board to board. It is an important factor to consider because it is the main determinant in how much time and effort is required to maintain your whiteboard, and it also determines how long a whiteboard is able to withstand daily classroom use.

3. Is the whiteboard easy to install?

Before ordering a whiteboard, make sure that it is not too large to fit through stairwells or doorways necessary to transport it to the classroom where it will be installed. If you think this could be a problem, you can usually order the whiteboard in two separate sections that can fit through narrow spaces.

When installing a new whiteboard, removing the old chalkboard or whiteboard can be a large undertaking due to the work of dismantling, wall patching, and cleanup. One way to bypass this problem is to order a dry erase resurfacing panel, commonly referred to as a “skin.” Most resurfacing panels are self-adhesive, and they simply adhere onto the surface of an old chalkboard or whiteboard, transforming it into a new whiteboard with little effort. If your old board has a frame that is in good condition, resurfacing it can be an easy and cost-effective option.