Buying Whiteboards in the Lower Mainland

Updated September 2014

Since starting to use whiteboards in my class room many colleagues in the VSB have tried to find the 4′ x 8′ sheets of shower board with no luck (neither Rona nor Home Depot seem to stock them any longer).  The boards used to be made by a company called Barker-Lite but they no longer make the plain white board that I used.

The best material I have found is AluPanel.

Associated Plastics (1104 Franklin Street, Vancouver, BC) sells 4’x8′ sheets of AluPanel for $55.  I ordered two sheets (white and standard thickness).  For an additional $42 I had them cut into twelve 24″x32″ pieces and had the corners and edges rounded off (this is important to do!!)  They get regular calls from teachers for this very thing.  I had mine cut large because I use them for group activities but you can have them cut any size you wish (may affect the cutting cost).  My total cost was $170.25 for 12 large durable student white boards.  Double the cost of the hard board below but much more durable (and lighter too).

I did some research and found that the Windsor Plywood store in Burnaby does stock a similar product called Thrifty White hardboard.  When I called last weekend they had 38 sheets in stock which they were selling for $40 a sheet.  They also stock an identical product called Barkerboard which they sell for $75 a sheet.  Note: I contacted the Windsor Plywood in Vancouver and they have ordered in stock of both these products — their prices are slightly higher).

My recommendations:

  1. Buy two sheets of hardboard and ask the staff to cut into pieces that are 32″ x 24″.  This gives you six whiteboards per sheet and a total of twelve whiteboards.
  2. Ask your school woodshop to round the corners & add to 1″ holes at the top.
  3. Buy twelve SETS of  whiteboard markers and a dozen erasers.  Emphasis on SETS of markers (so everyone can contribute).  I suggest that you avoid odourless markers — they are harder to clean off the board.
  4. Splash out on a bottle of whiteboard cleaner.

If you buy your markers & erasers through your school account your total cost should be under $200.

Here are some links on using whiteboards that I copied from Frank Noschese’s fantastic blog:

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About J Martens

Educator living and working in Vancouver BC Learning how formative assessment, literacy, inquiry, and technology serve to improve learning and increase engagement (for teachers & students).
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13 Responses to Buying Whiteboards in the Lower Mainland

  1. Thanks for the Vancouver instructions. For our gen-ed astronomy courses at UBC (ASTR 310 and ASTR 311), we bought a set of small whiteboards from Staples

    http://www.staples.ca/ENG/Catalog/cat_sku.asp?CatIds=&webid=743771&affixedcode=WW

    Bigger boards, like yours, would be much better, though.

    And I’d like to re-iterate that you should get a *set* of pens for each board, not just one, because he who holds the pen, hold the power. Adding a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) pen to the group makes it much easier for students to contribute, share, interact, engage.

  2. Doug Smith says:

    Thanks a lot for the information. With any luck, this post will become indispensable for Vancouver teachers.

  3. You can still get 8’x4′ sheets of white hardboard which work well for around $12 at Lowe’s (at least, I did a couple of weeks ago): the label on the back says 1/8″ smooth panelboard and it’s manufactured by Decorative Panels International.

    • J Martens says:

      Thanks Brian. Unfortunately there are no Lowe’s in BC. I see that Home Depot (USA only) also carries the Decorataive Panels product. (http://www.decpanels.com/consumer/product-locator)

      Note the disclaimer: “Each retailer carries the panels they believe will appeal to their consumers, therefore, not all of DPI’s products are available at every store.”

      For BC teachers, Windsor Plywood seems the best option.

  4. Doug says:

    Jacob, have you heard anything about department budgets for your school next year? I asked around a bit yesterday and was given the feeling that $200 would be out of range next year. That was just from a casual conversation though, focusing on classroom stationary supplies.
    thanks

    • J Martens says:

      Doug:

      I would not consider the whiteboard a “classroom stationary supply”. It is very useful tool for supporting collaborative and deeper learning. I loaned mine to a math teacher just before Easter and she was amazed at how quickly and deeply students learned trignometric identities (for those in the know, she only needed to spend two classes on that topic).

      So… I suggest that the whiteboards would fall into the same category as microscopes, sheep eyes, glassware, chemical supplies, etc. Note: my experience in science has been that Physics tends to spend the least amount of money on science equipment and I have been supported in “investing” in at least one significant piece of equipment each spring as part of the annual general order. ($200 for physics is small compared to a department budget that runs into the thousands).

      Not sure what the budgets are like in mathematics but as far as “bang for the buck” I would suggest that the whiteboards should be #1 on the list of items.

  5. rm says:

    Jacob,

    Just wanted you to know that Gladstone has now purchased 3 additional sets of whiteboards bringing our total to 4 class sets of 15. The teachers in the Science department are very excited to use this ‘lo-tech’ option to student engagement. I never thought the excitement to obtain whiteboards would exceed technology requests but it has. Thanks for bringing it to the attention of the Science teachers at Gladstone.

    Raza Mirani

    • J Martens says:

      Raza:

      Glad to see the excitement. Looking forward to seeing what teachers do with them — encourage people to take pictures of the boards before wiping them. (very easy to post to a class blog)

  6. Pingback: Lo-Tech Does the Trick « Education with a Tech Twist

  7. Pingback: Formative Assessment in HS Math Class | Renovating My Classroom

  8. Angela says:

    Thank you very much for this post. I’ve been having trouble looking for the right surface to mount on my wall to act as a whiteboard. I have a regular Staples whiteboard, but even for its specialized purpose, dry-erase markers still leave an imprint after cleaning. Because I want to mount a full 4’x8′ sheet, I need to make sure that the surface will be easy to clean and won’t leave me with a permanently ugly and marked up wall. Would you mind confirming that this Alupanel is super easy to wipe/clean? Thanks again!

    • J Martens says:

      Angela:

      The AluPanel functions better than the standard Staples whiteboard. I’ve only used them with students and they generally clean up well as long as they are cleaned regularly. Some colleagues use Turtle Wax car polish to coat their boards which seems to work very well but I couldn’t be bothered. You’ll note that the AluPanel has two sides and comes with a protective white plastic film on both sides. Some of our boards were used by students with the film still on — we didn’t notice until the end of the year. When we took the coating off we had a brand new board:) Basically, you’ll get four goes at it. I did notice that some brands of pens were easier to wipe off than others. The Expo pens were fine but the Staples pens didn’t work so well. Hope that helps.
      Jacob

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