A few days later, I made a trip over to my local home improvement store seeking out some thinner MDF. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any — the only MDF I found was way too thick — so I went with a 4×4 half-inch sheet of birch plywood that I had them cut down to 4×3.
A few cans of white primer spray paint later, I had a pretty decent backer board for my new whiteboard. The rigidity of the plywood really helped achieve that flat surface I was looking for, and the birch veneer on the plywood allowed me to spray paint it relatively easily, without needing too many coats. The reverse of the plywood also looks much better than the face of most other plywood.
Once the spray paint dried, I lined up the poly and plywood and drilled 1/4 inch holes about 2 inches in from each corner. Inside the holes, sandwiched by flat washers, I slipped a 1 inch hex bolt and fastened it with a nut. I bought 6 bolt/nut sets, but 4 seems sufficient so far. Voila you have your whiteboard.
Now you’ll notice I don’t have the full-size grid behind the poly like I previously described. Instead, I only have a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper towards the top right corner. That’s because I haven’t yet found a place that will print a larger poster-size sheet inexpensively. I figured I’d try Kinkos, but the guy told me it was like $7.50 per square foot. So for a 12 sq.ft. sheet, it would end up costing me more than the poly and plywood combined! So in the meantime, I spray painted one side of the plywood and it works perfectly. If I were to do this again, I’d probably hunt out white melamine — it’d give me the sturdiness I was looking for and eliminate the need to spray paint one side.
So I’m still hunting out a place to print cheap black and white posters — I guess if I come up fruitless I could align and tape multiple 8.5×11 sheets together, but that’s more hassle than it’s worth in my opinion.
EDIT: I guess I misheard the guy at
Kinkos Fedex Office, it turns out they only wanted $0.75 per square foot — so my grid print (full-size PDF available here) only cost $9 + tax. I updated the cost breakdown accordingly.
Lastly, I’ll try to sum up my costs:
Poly + shipping (~50)
Birch Plywood (~25)
2 Cans Spray Paint (~8)
6 Bolts / 6 Nuts, 12 Washers (~2)
Grid Print (~10)
The whiteboard rocks — I enjoyed building it — and I hope this will help someone else with their own whiteboard construction project.