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Chalkboard and Whiteboard Buying Guide

From classrooms to conference rooms, writing boards have become vital to meetings, trainings, and teachings. Chalkboards and whiteboards are great tools for getting an entire group involved in sharing ideas and working through a plan. There are a variety of sizes and styles available today for every kind of project and work environment. Use this guide to discover which style will fit your needs best.

Whiteboard 101:

Whiteboards are available as five varieties: glass, melamine, porcelain, laminate, and painted steel aluminum. Two of the most popular materials are magentic painted steel aluminum and melamine. Magnetic boards are made from a steel substrate with an industrial-strength porcelain coating, and can last 5-10 years. Magnets stick well to this type, making it a useful visual aid. Melamine boards have a melamine coating over a hardboard surface, and are not magnetic. These are less durable, usually lasting about 1-2 years, but are less expensive than magnetic boards.

When choosing which material is best for your project, consider how much usage you will need to get from the board. Generally speaking, the more expensive materials (glass and porcelain) are more durable and will last longer.

The Board Dudes Perpetual Calendar Dry Erase Board, 23"W X 17"H
The Board Dudes Perpetual Calendar

Advantages of Whiteboards

  • Markers come in every color imaginable
  • No Dust
  • Some are magnetic
  • Smooth and easy to write on
  • Easy to clean
  • Modern, clean look
  • Can have graphics, calendars, diagrams (left)
  • Can be used as a projector screen
  • Interactive whiteboards allow users to save, edit, and print notes, access internet, and project data
  • ​Glass varieties will never stain, and can be written on with any type of marker (permanent, dry erase, grease, etc.)

Perhaps most advantageous to a business is an interactive whiteboard. These combine the convenience of note-taking with the functionality of a computer by projecting, saving, and printing information with the touch of a button. Non-interactive whiteboards can also act as a projector screen.

Glass whiteboards are made of clear or translucent glass in varying colors, such as green, black, and white. This type of dry erase board has a very sleek and modern look.

There are also a variety of whiteboard paints on the market, which can transform just about any hard surface, like walls and old boards, into a brand new dry erase board. 

Combination boards are a very popular option, these merge the convenience of whiteboards with one or more other boards; such as chalkboards and cork boards. These are efficient for space-saving. One of the most popular versions is the standing easel, with one type of board on one side and another type on the other.  

Wayfair Guides Best Rite Reversible Board
Best-Rite 4' x 6' Euro Reversible Board

Disadvantages of Whiteboards

  • More expensive than chalkboards 
  • Markers are more expensive than chalk
  • Markers dry out easily
  • Some markers have fumes
  • Whiteboards can dull over time
  • Whiteboards can stain easily
  • Ghosting occurs with over use and without proper care
  • Some teachers claim that students write faster on whiteboards than on chalkboards, and this leads to less legible writing and less thoughtful answers

Chalkboard 101:

Chalkboards, also known as blackboards, are no longer the most common writing board found in schools. While these are helpful for school-age children learning to write, many schools and businesses now prefer the technological advantages of a whiteboard. Chalkboards generally last 5-10 years with proper care.
Marsh Freestanding Reversible Board
Marsh Freestanding Reversible Board

Advantages of Chalkboards

  • Easy to erase
  • Simple to clean with damp cloth
  • ​Easy to write on, and read from
  • Durable
  • Chalk is inexpensive, will not dry out
  • Chalkboard markers are available 
  • Chalk has a mild smell (compared to the     often pungent scent of whiteboard markers)
  • Chalk can be colorful for better visuals
  • Stainless steel with porcelain version are magnetic to display information (While older slate versions are not)

    If you are not looking to purchase a traditional chalkboard consider an alternative. Wall decals and chalkboard paint allow you to transform a portion of a wall or even the surface of a piece of furniture into a canvas for writing or drawing. Chalkboard decals are easily removable, which make these alternatives a renter-friendly option.

Wayfair Guides Blackboard
A+ Child Supply Chalkboard

Disadvantages of Chalkboards

  • Chalk creates dust
  • Dust can irritate those with allergies or asthma 
  • Chalk makes hands dry 
  • Dust is messy on clothes and floor
  • Dust can permanently damage electronics (computers, cell phones, etc.)
  • Important notes can be accidentally erased or wear off
  • Notes cannot be preserved

Interactive whiteboard

Size and Style

Chalkboards and whiteboards are available in a variety of sizes, from smaller than a piece of paper to as large as the length of an entire room. Styles and graphics capabilities range from decorative to professional. Many are magnetic, which supplements visuals.

Consider the amount of space you have available and what you'll use the board for.

Common Dimensions

Easel Boards:
3' x 2'
3' x 4'
4' x 6'

Free standing Boards: 
3' x 4'
4' x 6'
4' x 12'

​Wall Mounted Boards:
3' x 4'
4' x 8'
​4' x 16'

There are also smaller and oversized options; from a few inches wide up to more than 16 feet long. Both of these presentation aids are available in wall mounted and freestanding versions. Wall mounted options are best for large rooms where the board doesn't need to move around. Before purchasing, be sure to measure the wall where the wall mounted board will be fixed to, there should be ample room to move around in front of it. Freestanding boards are usually mobile with wheels and double-sided for extra writing room. This is a perfect option if you do not have a permanent space available for a board. 

​Easel boards are available in medium to small sizes and are recommended for visual aids and small group conferencing. Some combine both chalkboard and whiteboard as one reversible board. 

Lapboards and portable tablets are common for schools and trainings. These allow for small group or individual work to be done before collaborating with larger groups. 


To be sure that your Chalkboard or Whiteboard complements your space, consider the frame and board color. Both boards can have wooden, plastic, and metal frames of every shade and color or no frame at all. Chalkboards can be green, black, brown, or green. Whiteboards are usually white, but there are other options available including translucent colors. 


Whiteboards should be cleaned regularly with solutions to avoid the ghost effect, which occurs after the melamine has worn down and writing doesn't completely erase. Replace erasers every few months for heavily used boards. With the exception of glass whiteboards, only use proper dry erase markers to avoid permanently staining the board.

Only use chalk or chalkboard markers on chalkboards. To clean, first wipe with a dry eraser to remove dust. Prepare a small bucket with warm soapy water. Soak up water with a soft cloth, and wring out. Wipe the chalkboard from top to bottom, moving from one side to the other, this will avoid streaking. Rinse the cloth out in the bucket after each swipe. Let the board air dry before writing on it again. Only wash the board when needed, to avoid damaging it. 

Bulletin Boards

Bulletin Boards offer a way to display informtation for employess, students, or guests. Bulletin boards are made of cork or fabric, and can be wall mounted, enclosed cabinets, free standing, easels, or lap boards. Frames can be wood, metal, or plastic. One popular option is the magnetic bulletin board, which is very durable. 

Cork Bulletin Boards are made of natural or synthetic cork. Natural cork tends to last longer as it automatically restores itself; while synthetic cork doesn't have the same elastic properties. Water can warp cork boards, so keep away from moisture. Cork boards tend to last longer when they are framed and have a backing.

Fabric Bulletin Boards provide colorful displays for classrooms, offices, lobbies, and more. The fabric is very durable and easily matches décor. 

Common Accessories

These accessories help to add convenience and functionality to your writing board.

Wayfair Guides
If you are still looking for helpful tips and information about school furniture and equipment, read these articles:

Playground Equipment Buying Guide
Update Your Classroom on a Budget
Classroom and Layout Setup Essentials
Locker Buying Guide

You can also click here for a printable PDF version of this buying guide.

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