DIY Whiteboard Wall

13 Oct

I mentioned that I was a superhero last week- that’s because I was so productive! I don’t think I’ve ever been so effective.  I finished most of the old projects in my garage and even started some new ones.  AND…also surprised my husband, Manny, big time.

Manny was in California all week working and when he came back to Texas on Friday night he was stunned to see I finished building a floor to ceiling whiteboard for him in his home office.

Here it is!

A whiteboard may not sound exciting but Manny has been wanting one for his office for quite some time.  Buying a whiteboard wasn’t possible because large ones are very expensive and hard to find. Buying small ones and piecing them together would take away from the goal of having one continuous whiteboard.

Moving across the country two months ago helped delay the project.  When we moved into our new rental home, it also delayed the project because I wasn’t sure how in the world to make an entire wall covered with whiteboard paint without damaging a wall.   Our lease is up in 10 months and I am not sure where we will live when that occurs.  There is a chance we might be able to buy this house but that is so undetermined since we still might need to sell our house in Los Angeles.  If we move out, the last thing I want to do while packing up and moving out is repaint and retexture a room.  Kudos to all those renters that modify and paint but I am still on the fence about doing that.

So until I get crazy ambitious and paint a wall, I figured out another solution– covering the wall with thin boards before using whiteboard paint.  The boards can easily be removed if/when we move out.

That’s my handsome dad helping me hang the boards.  I never usually have help with my DIY projects but thanks goodness my dad stopped by to help with this one because the large sized boards were too difficult for one person to hold up.

This whiteboard project would have been much simpler had I not had to cover the walls with wood.  The whiteboard paint could have just been painted directly on the walls. Whiteboard paint can be painted on practically any surface but here is the long complicated way I completed this project to protect the walls.  If you don’t need to protect the walls, just skip on down to the whiteboard paint part of the tutorial.

One tip when using whiteboard paint is that the surface MUST be very very smooth.  Whiteboard paint is not an epoxy.  It will not flatten out uneven surfaces. I learned this after completing this project.  If you start with a rough surface, you will end up with a rough surface.  Whiteboard paint is pretty much the same consistency and texture as regular paint so keep that in mind before applying.  If the wall has a textured surface, you will get a textured whiteboard.  It will still work like a whiteboard but be pretty dang difficult to write on top of wall texture bumps.

Here’s the how to make a whiteboard:

I bought two thin boards for $12 each.  They are about 1/8 inch thick.

The picture above shows the completed whiteboard from the side.  The boards are so thin, the whiteboard is flush with the wall.

The boards were originally 8′ x 4′ but I had them cut down slightly to fit between the crown molding.  The original plan was to make the entire wall a whiteboard but because of a huge air-conditioning vent at the bottom right side of the wall, we could only cover a portion of the wall.

It ended up working out well because now my husband can put other things like pictures or a calendar on the right side.   I’m starting to decorate his office so I’ll let you know about the fun stuff happens there soon!

Nail boards to the wall using thin nails.  It needs to be small nails with thin, barely there nail heads so that there are not any indentions on the board surface.  Nails that look almost like a pin. The surface needs to be flat as possible. If large screws or nails are used it will be very hard to cover up and sand down so many holes with wood filler.

Here is how we installed the boards.

If more than one board is used, wood filler will need to be used between boards to make it look like one continuous sheet.  I filled with wood filler and sanded twice to get it smooth.

Then I taped the sides with painters tape and applied five coats of latex primer.  Five!!

The wood I used was pretty smooth but I wanted to make the whiteboard as smooth as possible which is the reason for applying 5 coats.  The first two coats just absorbed into the wood and it was really only the last 3 that started to give it good coverage.  I also lightly sanded between coats to help ensure smoothness.

All five coats were applied using this tiny smooth roller..which is one of my new favorite toys.  I used this roller on a few other projects including painting furniture and am really pleased with the results.  Pretty smooth finish and the roller doesn’t suck up or waste a bunch of paint.

Priming took two days to give the paint adequate time to dry.  Then it was time to whiteboard!  I didn’t buy the Idea Paint I talked about before.  Idea Paint was more expensive ($175.00) and it also required shipping.  I had already held off on this project long enough and didn’t want to wait longer for it to get shipped.

I ended up using Rust-oleum which I bought at Home Depot. It was substantially cheaper –$21/kit.  Each kit can provide two coats of a paint for a 7′ by 7′area so I bought two kits.  (Something to consider if you want to do this project is the Rust-oleum only comes in white.  Idea Paint comes in several colors.)

The whiteboard paint kit comes in a two part solution.

Mix Part A with Part B to activate solution.

Stir well.

Then start painting using a roller designed to leave a smooth finish.

Each coat an be applied after the prior coat has had 20-30 minutes drying time. All coats must be completed within 2 hours.

At least two coats of whiteboard paint are recommended.  I painted 4 coats.

And here it is!

Now Manny can talk to clients and plan and outline their needs visually at the same time.

Overall, we were very 90% satisfied with the Rust-oleum kit. We were pleased with the whiteboard paint but the texture was not as smooth as I thought it would be. I sanded the raw wood pretty smooth but still the whiteboard paint dried with an oh so slight bumpy textured surface.  I hate to call it bumpy because the bumps are barely there.  You can’t even see the bumps well but I just thought the whiteboard paint would be glass like which is why I warned above about making sure the surface is very smooth before painting. I am not blaming the whiteboard paint…perhaps it was my roller or the wood?  I hate to complain because were were happy and would use this product again…but am still left wondering if maybe the Idea Paint is better and would provide a more perfect result.  Regardless, it is one really nice whiteboard and my husband loves it.

Here are the costs of the project:

  • Two 8′ x 4′ x 1/8″ boards $22
  • Two Rust-oleum whiteboard paint kits $42
  • TOTAL COST = $64 plus tax (I already owned the painter’s tape, roller and primer.  If installing boards is not necessary, project costs will reduce $22 based on same size whiteboard.)





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22 Responses to “DIY Whiteboard Wall”

  1. Angie & Carrie October 13, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Awesome!!!!!! I bet Manny loves it!

    • Aaron March 20, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

      They Sell panels of this 4 x 8 at home depot for around $15.

  2. michele@hellolovelyinc October 17, 2011 at 3:41 pm #

    you go! such a functional piece for this room.

    found you and your lovely blog via BBC and would love to have you visit and have a great giveaway at the moment!



  3. Chris October 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    What a great idea wall. I’m glad to know your experiences with white board paint. We’re starting a new home, with lots of design possibilities…and I would love a bit white board. :)

  4. Shiloh October 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

    I didn’t even know there was such a thing as whiteboard paint. Can you save the left overs and use it for small things??

    • Angie & Carrie October 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

      Unfortunately I don’t think it is possible. The directions state that the whiteboard paint must be applied within 2 hours after activation (activation occurs after the two parts are mixed together). I wanted to test it out to see if it was possible to save and use later on other projects but I ended up using all the whiteboard paint I had with this project.

  5. cassie October 19, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    that is so fun! i have yet to use dry erase paint and want to!

    • Angie & Carrie October 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

      Cassie, I’ll admit I was scared at first but…it is just like paint and SO easy to use!! — Angie

  6. Katie D. October 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    By the numerous markings all over my walls by my 3 and 2 year old, I think I need an entire wall of this in our playroom :) Never been a fan of giving them a piece of chalk inside because of all the dust, but I think this will work great. Maybe if I dedicate an entire wall to them, they won’t be as apt to color smiley faces on my carpet :) Thanks for the idea!

    • Angie & Carrie October 19, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

      Katie, It would be perfect for your kids!!! Idea Paint has some great ideas on their website. You can do fun things for kids like make cloud shapes with the whiteboard paint. If you end up making one, send us pictures because we would love to see how it turns out.

  7. jalinda October 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

    I love dry erase boards. What a great project!

  8. Gwen October 20, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    I just saw the white board paint last week when I was buying magnetic primer. Seeing your finished project is great to know how it works. And that was so smart to use the thin wood like that. Your wall looks fantastic!

  9. erica October 22, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

    I’m thinking of taking on this project for my home office. Seems like your experience was a good one. One question I’d like to ask, now that you’ve had the wall for a while, how is the erasing? Does it leave ghosting/marks, after erasing, etc?

    • Angie & Carrie October 24, 2011 at 6:50 am #

      Erica, We did have a good experience and would use it again. There are not any ghosting marks but using a typical whiteboard eraser doesn’t work that well. My husband actually uses a rag instead to wipe the board and it works great. I think the fault lies in the fact that I used wood for the underneath surface. Even though I primed it and tried to make the wood very smooth, there are still some tiny texture marks on the wall. I highly recommend trying to use an underneath surface that is slippery or glass like. Had I done the same, I have no doubt our white board would work even better. – Angie

  10. SJ @ Homemaker On A Dime October 22, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    Hi! I featured this here, pinned on Pinterest and posted on fb. Thanks for linking up at the Creative Bloggers’ Party & Hop :)

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  12. Chloe January 19, 2014 at 1:55 am #

    hi Angie!
    I love this idea and I’m going to try it in my new room once I move to a new house. I believe it will have textured walls though, should I use boards like you did to make it smooth underneath or should I use a different surface?

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