An alternative to whiteboards/chalkboards?
March 4, 2012 11:28 PM   Subscribe

Chalkboards are dusty. Whiteboards are smelly. What else can I use?

This is for my personal use, in my own room, for the sake of me being able to write as big as I want, preferably with the ability to erase easily. I love the feeling of writing on a huge canvas, so I'm not looking for projectors or anything that still keeps me writing on a small surface.

Smartboards/giant touchscreens are out of the question due to cost, unfortunately. (I'm on a college-student budget.)
posted by miniraptor to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
A large easel pad?
posted by rabbitbookworm at 11:38 PM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Chalkboard paint. Paint a wall or part of a wall in your room with this stuff. Or just get a large piece of wood and paint it and hang it on your wall. Then get some chalk, any ol' chalk will do. When you want to write, get the chalk wet and write. It's just paint, not actual chalk board, and wetting the chalk keeps it from getting dusty (and it just writes better), and then just wipe it down with a wet rag when you want to erase it. It's what we use for the specials board in our diner. Zero dust. Easy to do.
posted by greta simone at 11:46 PM on March 4, 2012

Response by poster: ^ Dumb question, but will this work for any chalkboard? I never even fathomed of wetting the chalk.

Also, do you know if chalkboard paint works on surfaces like canvas or thick cloth? That would be awesome.
posted by miniraptor at 12:35 AM on March 5, 2012

Get a piece of glass, mount it on a solid-color wall, and use grease pencils.

Alternatively, use the low-odor whiteboard markers. I'm very sensitive and they were enough of a solution for me (can't stand the dust/noise from chalk.)
posted by SMPA at 1:21 AM on March 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

I think the grease pencils/glass sounds like a great solution, although removing the marks can take a little more elbow grease.

You could also use a chalkboard with chalk pens (I found this via Google, no comments on quality). I kind of prefer the nice bright pastels available with chalk colors.
posted by that girl at 2:08 AM on March 5, 2012

I never even fathomed of wetting the chalk.

Pretty much should work with all chalk - we still had a blackboard at school and this was cleaned with a wet sponge in between classes and the chalk regularly got wet. Works just fine although you end up using more chalk cause you end up with a thicker line - both in terms of width of line and in terms of amount of chalk used.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:38 AM on March 5, 2012

Best answer: Whiteboard crayons - Crayola and Sargeant both make them in 8-color packs. Non-toxic and odor-free, brighter colors than the markers, and cleans up with a wet paper towel.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:59 AM on March 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Slap*happy beat me to it. They are greasier than regular crayons, so they go on come off easy. Just don't leave them in the sun.
posted by Ys at 5:21 AM on March 5, 2012

(Chalkboard paint wouldn't work very well on canvas - for one thing, you have to push a bit with chalk to make a mark, so writing on the canvas would stretch it out of shape, and for another, all the texture in the surface would make it very difficult to get the chalk off - you'd have to hose it down after every use instead of just wiping.)
posted by ella wren at 5:24 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Overhead projector markers (Vis-a-Vis) don't smell and work fine with whiteboards.
posted by clorox at 5:29 AM on March 5, 2012

Just to be clear, wetting the chalk should also work with any old chalkboard you have, not just chalkboard painted surfaces.
posted by dahliachewswell at 5:43 AM on March 5, 2012

Wet erase markers (generally) don't rely on solvents and are much much MUCH less stinky. You can use them on regular whiteboards, or on transparencies.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:28 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

The advantage of plexiglass and grease pencils is that you can put more permanent items (e.g. gridlines, chart axes, common formulae) on the back of the glass, drawn backwards (also a fun skill which doesn't take long to develop) so that you can erase plots without erasing the parts of the graph you'll need later. The hard part is lighting everything to prevent glare.

Other suggestion would be a series of paper pads. Harder to erase, but it would have some advanced copy-and-paste features, as long as you have tape nearby. You could also back your glass with paper for the reasons listed above.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:43 AM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Those low-odor whiteboard pens got me through the first trimester, when every bad smell made me sick but I was still working full-time and couldn't avoid daily meetings with whiteboards galore.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:22 AM on March 5, 2012

In response to your question B, no, chalkboard paint won't really work on cloth. Probably. This is just an educated guess.
a. prime the heck out of the cloth, as it absorbs quite a bit of paint and there's noi point in using gallons of the expensive stuff.
b. Now cover it with chalkboard paint. The texture of the canvas will still be somewhat present.
c. With enough primer and paint on it to get a writing surface, it won't be particularly flexible any more (may make crackle texture when bent) so that removes a lot of the point of having it be cloth.
d. Write with chalk, and it makes textured lines writing primarily on the high surfaces of hte weave. (yes, that seems like a small difference, but chalk is a hard surface, there's no way it would touch the low points of hte weave to leave a mark).
e. Wash the chalk off, creating a chalky water that settles into the low points of hte weave, "frosting" the black writing surface
f. And now your canvas is wet.

No, I've never done this, but I've painted fabric before, and at least some of these drawbacks are bound to be true, so I wouldn't recommend it.
posted by aimedwander at 8:56 AM on March 5, 2012

Best answer: I use a microfiber cloth as an eraser for my chalkboard. I still get a little chalk dust, but only a tiny fraction of what I would with a typical eraser. I just toss the microfiber in the wash when it starts to get too dusty.
posted by ktkt at 9:12 PM on March 5, 2012

Dustless Chalk? And erase with a wet rag.

If you're on a college-student budget, you may want to take a look at ikea's small whiteboard panels. And also consider water-soluble ink in an empty marker, again from jetpens.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:04 AM on March 6, 2012

« Older I would like to legally make my copy of Windows XP...   |   Lady arm hair: What do to? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.