Whiteboards, also known as dry erase boards and dry marker boards, are among the most common pieces of office and classroom equipment. They come in various sizes and are easy to use. They are most commonly white in color (thus the name), though they can be found in other colors as well. Whiteboard markers, also referred to as whiteboard pens or dry erasable markers, are used for writing on these boards.
Whiteboards can be made of a wide range of materials, though the most common ones are melamine, painted steel, enameled steel, aluminum, and porcelain. Let’s take a closer look into whiteboard materials.
History of Whiteboards
The whiteboard was invented by Albert Stallion back in the early 1960s while he was working for Alliance. The company was making enameled steel at the time. Enameled steel was mainly used in architectural cladding, though Mr. Stallion saw that it could also be suitable for a writing surface.
Mr. Stallion then parted ways with Alliance and founded his own company which he named MagiBoards. The first commercially available models came out soon after, though they went relatively unnoticed. They needed to be cleaned with a damp cloth and were easily stained by markers. However, with the invention of the dry erase marker in 1975, whiteboards started gaining momentum.
By the end of the 20th century, whiteboards became a common sight in classrooms across the US. Today, they have almost completely replaced chalkboards.
Enameled steel or porcelain
Enameled steel was the original whiteboard material back in the 1960s and remains very popular today. Enameled steel board are designed for heavy-duty use and can usually be found in schools, universities, training centers, and similar places. This type of boards usually comes with long-term warranties.
Enameled steel/porcelain whiteboards consist of a steel core and a three-layer surface. The core can be either a solid steel sheet or mesh. The writing surface (first of three top layers) is made of a combination of cobalt, nickel, and glass. The second surface layer is the substrate, usually coated with a moisture barrier.
As a result, porcelain boards are magnetic and highly resistant to scratching. They don’t absorb permanent marker or dry erase ink.
Melamine is today’s most common whiteboard material. Basically, melamine is a type of plastic polymer combined with a range of base materials (MDF and particle boards are the most common).
The overall quality of melamine boards can vary greatly, mostly depending on the thickness of the resin coating. While generally less durable than porcelain steel or painted aluminum and steel boards, some melamine boards can last quite a long time.
Melamine boards are generally prone to ghosting and staining. Due to this, they are not well-suited for use in official settings or for heavy duty use. You can find them in virtually every office supply store among the most affordable boards.
This is another type of inexpensive whiteboards. These boards come with laminated surface and are easily stained. Also, they have a short lifespan and are not intended for heavy-duty use. Due to that, you won’t see any laminated chipboards in schools, hospitals, or offices.
Painted aluminum and steel
These two materials are often put in the same category as far as whiteboard materials are concerned for the similar production process. However, along with the similarities, these two have their fair share of differences.
Both painted aluminum and steel boards have smoother surfaces and are easier to clean than melamine boards. They are usually made up of a white-colored surface plate with a clear coating of dry erase component on top. Aluminum boards are lighter and more expensive than their steel counterparts. But unlike steel boards, aluminum boards are not magnetic.
Steel boards are by far the more prevalent of the two which is mostly due to the difference in production costs and magnetic properties. Steel boards are commonly used as patient information boards in hospitals, tracking boards, and tournament boards.
Whiteboards have almost completely replaced the classic chalkboards at offices, classrooms, hospitals, sports facilities, conference rooms, and factory floors. Many people also use whiteboards at home instead of the classic post-it cork boards. They are also quite handy for homeschooling purposes.
Whiteboards have numerous advantages over their archaic counterparts. They are lighter than chalkboards, as well as easier to clean and maintain. Additionally, whiteboards are healthier, as they eliminate dust from the picture.
Finally, whiteboards are affordable and offer great durability. Some models, especially the ones made of high-grade materials (such as enameled steel), are very resilient and can last you a long time.