Welcome to the "Dry Erase Boards are Expensive" Recovery Blog.
I decided to write this support blog because re-designing an entire office on a $250 budget is difficult, but not impossible. Re-designing an entire office on a $250 budget that requires a $200 dry erase board, however, is...
actually impossible. (I'm looking at you, Staples!)
...that is, until I discovered how to make one for $45.
Fine Print: Price reflects parts only. Time and energy spent at Home Depot arguing with the lumber department about fiberglass, sawing the frame pieces by hand at a 45* angle, figuring out how to put a panel board the size of a football field into a Prius without breaking it, actually building the darn thing and attaching it to the wall: NOT INCLUDED. Your participation after reading this may vary. Pull out your big girl panties. You got this.
The template I provide in this blog is for a 4 ft. x 6 ft. dry erase board, but you can adjust these measurements accordingly for any size you want*.
Truck or Large Trunk Transportation (although this material is bendy, I recommend arranging appropriate size transportation ahead of time! My husband's Prius worked, but just barely!)
STEP 1: SELECT, CUT, & PURCHASE SUPPLIES
At Home Depot, select the 4’ x 8’ Hardboard Thrifty White Panel Board and your frame profile. Be sure to inspect the items you are selecting carefully, as some might be bowed, crooked, or really scuffed, which will affect the construction and look of your dry erase board.
Next, have the lumber department cut your materials to the appropriate sizes.
Pro Tip: Finish cutting the lengths of the frame pieces first, including the corners. I had all of my materials cut at the same time, but when I laid my competed frame on top of the panel board it was too large and I had to get it cut again.
FIY: The lumber department will not cut 45 degree angles (lame), which is needed for a mitered corner frame, so you will have to do this part yourself by hand at the saw station they have for "customer convenience."
Ensure they have a miter block that looks like the photo to the right (or you will drive yourself nuts):
Since I was a bit timid (terrified, actually) of cutting the angles by hand, I decided to have the lumber department cut my frame pieces 7 ft. and 5 ft., which is 12" longer than I needed to give me a 6" buffer on each side in case I royally screwed things up.
I also brought my husband along and made him do the cutting.
Don't judge me.
P.S. That smile is his "I'm trying to support my wife's DIY insanity" smile.
After getting the frames cut to size, we headed to the saw station to hand-saw the mitered edges.
Pro Tip: Practice with some similar scraps before you cut your own material to make sure you know how the hand saw will feel and what technique gives you the smoothest cut.
Pro Tip: It is really important that you think through the angles because if you cut the angle wrong, you'll have to start again with a whole new piece. (Thankfully an employee warned us of this before we started because otherwise I would probably be suggesting this from experience.)
Next, lay the completed frame on top of your selected panel board piece and mark what size to cut it. I had my panel board cut first and when I laid my frame on top, I realized that it stuck out a bit, so I had to have it cut again.
Pro Tip: If they try to tell you that they won’t cut the panel board in store because it is fiberglass, they are wrong. It is A) not made of fiberglass and B) says on their website that they will cut the product.
Once you have everything cut and you can lay it out to your liking, grab your hardware and head out!
STEP 2: ASSEMBLY
This part is relatively easy and easily depicted with my graphics below:
1. Lay the board face down on the floor.
2. Line up the edge of the board with the edge of the frame as best as you can so the board isn’t sticking out past the frame. This part is easiest to do with two people (or lots of heavy-duty clamps). Starting from the middle and working out, staple the particle board to the frame along the edge, where the thickest part of the molding is.
Pro Tip: To prevent a bowed/rippled effect in the panel board, I recommend working on the long edge first.
3. Next, line up one of the side pieces, making sure the mitered corners match up nicely. This time, start stapling from the edge closest to the side you just finished.
4. Proceed with the same instructions (#3) on the opposite short side.
5. Lastly, line up the final piece (the other long side). starting in the middle and working your way out, again, making sure the mitered corners are matching up the way you want them to.
6. Congratulations! You have made a dry erase board! It should look like this: (but more realistic. I forgot to take photos, ok? I'm not perfect.)
STEP 3: HANGING THE DRY ERASE BOARD
Because the panel board is such a thin material, I recommend purchasing this hardware which will allow you to hang the board completely flush with the wall. You will need two packages.
The hardware will be exposed, but I actually like that look!
1. For my white board, I felt more secure attaching three hangers on the top of the dry erase board. If you can, use a stud finder to find the studs in the wall, marking the location of them with a sticky note or light pencil mark you can erase.
Pro Tip: Wall studs are typically 16" apart. If you want your hardware centered on your white board, you will need to center your dry erase board on a stud.
Measure and mark the location of the studs on the back of the dry erase board in relation to where the board will hang on the wall (or you can hold your white board up to the where you want to it to hang and lightly mark your frame where the studs are). This is how you will know where to attach the hangers on the board.
2. Screw the hangers to the back of the dry erase board where the stud locations are marked.
Pro Tip: Double check to make sure the screws aren’t going to be too long that they will poke out the front of the white board! If yours are, you should purchase shorter screws!
3. Calculate the top height of where you want to hang your dry erase board. Please note, you board will hang about ½” lower in account for the size of the hanger, so when nailing the hangers to the wall (at the studs), you will want the bottom of the hook to be about 1/2" above where you want the top of the board to hang.
Tip: It may be helpful to hold the dry erase board at the height you want to hang the board. Mark a dot on the wall at the top of the loop, which will indicate the location of the bottom of the hook.
4. I realized that because the board wasn’t fastened to the wall at the bottom, it had the tendency to hang away from the wall. I took the last remaining hanger and screwed it to the middle of the bottom of the board. I re-hung the white board and then hooked the hook through the loop, pulling down to make the tension tight. Then I nailed in the hook to the wall up-side-down. To make the board lie flat, I nailed the loop closed so the board couldn’t bounce off the wall.
STEP 4: CELEBRATE!
Go buy yourself some Jimmy Choo shoes with all that money
...but buy them on ebay. I saved you $155, not $550.