Make a Giant Whiteboard for only $15

whiteboard diy cheap alternative

For a productive brainstorming session, whether as a team or solo, nothing beats a good old fashioned whiteboard. There have been online apps that try to fill this need, but I just haven't found anything that allows the same kind of non-linear think vomit. Draw arrows to empty corners of the board for an extra thought, sketch out a design layout, or create an easily modifiable list; the whiteboard is the tool to get the job done.

There's a problem, though. They're mad friggin expensive. I recently had an incredibly productive whiteboard brainstorm at the local library, and decided that it'd be worth putting one up at home. A quick Amazon search revealed a stumbling block: a 6'x4′ board like the one at the library was a whopping $109. “Ok, so don't get such big one, ya idiot,” I hear you saying, but even a tiny little 11×14 inch dorm room door whiteboard is $10.

The other issue I had, as usual, when you want to put something large on the wall and you live with your girlfriend, the gf wasn't super-keen on putting a giant whiteboard up for all to see.

There had to be a better, cheaper, solution. I initially started out looking for Dry Erase paint, thinking I could just paint a section of my wall with it. But reading several poor reviews for such an expensive paint dissuaded me.

Then I came across an interesting tidbit: the surface whiteboards are made out of is also sold as a cheap-o shower liner at places like Home Depot. For only $13. For 4 FEET by 8 FEET.

The board at my store was labeled “Thrifty White Panel Board,” but may also come under the names of “solid white tileboard,” “Melamine tile wall panel,” or “showerboard.”

To keep things groovy with my girlfriend, we agreed to put a split whiteboard on the back of the door, and on the wall right behind the door. When the door is shut, I've got a giant whiteboard to use, when the door is open, no one can see it. Win-win.

The best part is, Home Depot will do the cuts for you free of charge. So I measured the width and height of the door (minus room for the knob), and had the panel board cut to fit.

I used 4 screws with large fender washers (about $2) to hold the boards to the door and wall, and then used double-sided foam tape from 3M to prevent any board wobble. Other folks have used picture hanging hooks, or liquid nails to hold it in place, but I was looking for a less permanent solution. Others have also glued the panel to a piece of plywood to create a super-sturdy surface that they then hung up. My method works fine for my needs, but there may be better ways depending on what your location requires.

It only took me about 20 minutes to get set up once I had the board at home. It works perfectly, with no ink ghosting, and erases just like a normal dry erase whiteboard does. I would recommend using good dry erase markers for the best results. Happy brainstorming!


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Andrew Snavely

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.