(also known as a whiteboard, dry-erase board, dry-wipe board or a pen-board
) is a name for any glossy surface, most commonly colored white, where non-permanent markings can be made. Whiteboards
operate analogously to chalkboards in that they allow markings to temporarily adhere to the surface of the board. The popularity of whiteboards
increased rapidly in the mid-1990s and they have become a fixture in many offices, meeting rooms, school classrooms and other work environments. Instead of using chalk (as on chalkboards) to make the markings, a special whiteboard erase marker
containing removable ink is used. Whiteboards
are constructed with one of three materials; the cheaper melamine resin, polyester coated steel and more expensive models made from enameled steel.
Whiteboard ink markings are less susceptible to external factors, such as water, because the ink adheres in a different manner than chalk does to chalkboards. As well, using markers
does not generate the dust that comes from using and erasing chalk, allowing their use in areas containing dust-sensitive equipment. Some who are allergic to chalk or are asthmatic use markerboards as an alternative. A markerboard can be used as the projecting medium for an overhead
or video projector
. This allows the person giving the presentation to fill in blanks, edit, underline and make comments by writing directly onto the markerboard, which in turn shows through the projected image. A dry erase marker
is easier to hold and write with. This can benefit persons with limited mobility in their hands, such as those affected by diseases such as arthritis or systemic lupus erythematosus. In addition, marking on a markerboard takes less time, effort and pressure than marking on a chalkboard. Markerboards also save paper.
Whiteboards are slightly more expensive than blackboards. In addition, only special whiteboard markers
are suitable for use on whiteboards. Using other markers that resemble whiteboard markers but contain the wrong kind of ink creates markings that are hard or impossible to remove. However, some techniques have been developed, which include filling over them using a marker with the right type of removable ink and then erasing the ink; wiping the marks with acetone or alcohol; or by using board cleaning sprays
or prepackaged wipes. The white background can cause contrast problems for people with vision impairment. Additionally, markerboards cause some problems for those who write left-handed as many write with their hand curved around the pen, therefore causing their hand to drag across the board, smearing the marker strokes previously made. This is obviously only a problem for left-handed people when writing in a left-to-right language, such those that use Roman characters, for example, English. Another disadvantage of the markerboard is concerned with the issues of the actual usable ink remaining in a dry-erase marker
. Since the markers are often tightly sealed in plastic, it is not possible to accurately gauge the amount of ink available. In contrast, blackboards, using chalk do not have this problem as the chalk visibly reduces with use.
Read more on our full Whiteboard and Easel Buyer's Guide