This is by FAR my favorite DIY project as a teacher! Last year, I approached my principal,asking for
a few $80 for a small project. After asking the pertinent questions, he gave me the go-ahead. This past summer, I spent a few days outside in the heat transforming my classroom tables into whiteboard tables. Here are my findings along with tips, tricks, and review after one year of using our DIY whiteboard classroom tables.
My classroom was equipped with tables (LOVE them!) that had once served as computer desks. Brown, faux wood paneling with a bar, just slight of the middle, that will whack you in the knees if you aren’t careful. They are ideal for collaborative work and space to accommodate any size student or book bag.
Tip #1: Invest in a good primer for any dark colored surface, it will make all the difference! I recommended Kilz latex primer (I went through almost a gallon on 15 large tables with 2-3 coats).
My research about whiteboard paint (I went with Rustoleum) has lead to two conclusions: people either hated it with a passion or people loved it. There was no middle ground. After some quick online searching, I found that those who hated it were using expired paint! Any dry erase paint that is more than 2 years old is bad and will not work well. Thankfully some more research lead me to conclude that there is an easy way to determine the good vs. expired paint.
Tip #2: Check for expired cans of paint by looking at the date on the bottom of the package. *Mind you, this was Rustoleum dry erase paint that I’m referencing* The number that follows the “G” is the last digit of the year that it was made. For instance, in my picture below, the paint was made in 2015 so it is good for this year only.
After applying 2-3 coats of Kilz primer, I waited a few days to let it completely cure before using whiteboard paint.
The whiteboard paint comes in two cans that you mix together when you are ready. Working fairly quickly, I applied as many coats as possible within a 45-60 minute period before letting it dry overnight. This worked out to at least 3 coats on each table.
Tip #3: The whiteboard paint mixture will be VERY thin and watery – do NOT wear good clothing to complete this project and either use drop clothes or paint outside.
I bought a few boxes and still have one left for a summer touch-up. The fifteen tables used about 2.5 boxes of the whiteboard paint initially and based on usage, I’m going to need a box per year to refresh the paint.
My classes LOVE the tables and use them often – taking notes during group work, movies, or any activity that would have required the “please get out a piece of paper and…” spiel. There are a few rules and issues that have come with their use, like the “shadow” effect with certain colors. The colors red and pink are forbidden in my class as they will not remove off of any whiteboard surface nicely (I refer to them as the devil).
Tip #4: Only keep colors that you approve of in your classroom – those little buggers will find the colors you DON’T like and use them! And only use Expo brand – off brand whiteboard markers are very difficult to remove
Tip #5: Buy a large pack of chamois clothes that are devoted to the whiteboard tables – stash them in an area with the whiteboard markers and spray.
After one year, the whiteboard tables are here to stay and I’m sure there are tons of ways that I haven’t utilized them but I’m looking forward to discovering those ways!
To be concise, here is a simple step by step breakdown of the DIY process and materials needed:
- Clean and prep tables with tape around the edges or parts that need covered (remember to prep the work area too!).
- Apply 2-3 coats of Kilz primer and let dry for at least one day.
- Mix whiteboard paint ingredients (remember you only have a limited amount of time after mixing the ingredients) and apply as many coats as possible within the designated time frame (45-60 minutes for Rustoleum).
- Let dry and cure for at least one week before using.
- Kilz latex primer
- Whiteboard paint
- disposable paint trays
- 2 foam rollers and handle
- painters tape
- drop cloth or newspaper
Let me know in the comments below, do you have whiteboard tables? Looking to DIY whiteboard tables this summer? Are there super awesome ways that you use them in your classroom?
Follow me on instagram at instagram.com/myteachercraft to see the tables in action throughout the year!