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Turn Any Flat Surface into a Dry Erase Board

Oops! Have you ever said something you wish you could take back? It happens to me regularly. You’d think I’d be used to it by now. Well, here I am again. I wrote this great post, but then the next day, realized it was wrong! My dry erase board doesn’t erase, if you leave the marker on it to dry more than a day. I didn’t realize this until after it was out there all over the internet. However, I found that it does work great if you use regular markers on it, then erase them with a damp paper towel. The process described below still applies, and you get to use regular markers without all the chemicals of dry erase markers. So I decided to let the post stand, with a few corrections throughout (in red). I hope it’s still helpful to you, even though it’s really just a marker board, not an actual dry erase board. Read on to see what you think and feel free to leave me feedback in the comments!

I have more dry erase boards, message boards, chalkboards, and magnetic list pads strewn around my house than I care to admit. I keep thinking the next one will be just the thing to get me organized. Turns out, it helps if you actually use them.

How to turn any flat surface into an erasable marker board

Well, for me to use something consistently, it also helps if it’s cute. Enter my new find from Target. I found this piece of wall art with a cute yellow chevron pattern, that’s just tailor-made for my office. Now, what to do with it? Turn it into a dry erase marker board of course!

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I was inspired by Rustoleum Dry Erase paint. But then when I went to buy some, I sadly discovered that a small quart sized bottle costs about $20. Hard to justify that expense to embellish my $3 clearance find. But by now I was determined to find a way. Next I tried Mod Podge. Y’all know I love my Mod Podge. I figured since it dries to a nice gloss finish, it just might do the trick. Well, in a way it sort of worked, but I couldn’t get it painted on smoothly enough. I could mark on it with no problem, and it erased fine, but the ink got stuck in all the brush marks. There had to be another way.

Finally I remembered using contact paper on another project, and how smooth it felt to the touch. I wondered if that would work? And it did! Like a charm. (For a while.) So for an extra $5, I was able to finally get my cute dry erase marker board. I just know this will be the one that keeps me organized!

Here’s how to turn any flat surface into a dry erase marker board, for less than the cost of the markers you’ll use on it…

Marker Board Supplies

What you’ll need to make your own marker board:

  • Something with a flat surface. This would be really cute to do with a photo, or even scrapbook paper glued to a piece of wood or foam board
  • One roll (or much less) of Contact paper, the glossiest finish you can find
  • Scissors
  • Pen or pencil
  • Squeegee or something similar with a flat edge, like a ruler or a credit card

Marker Board Process:

  1. Make sure your flat surface is clean and dry.
  2. Measure and mark the contact paper with the dimensions of your project.Measure & Mark
  3. Cut the contact paper and carefully remove the backing paper.Remove Backing
  4. Affix it gently to your project. You can re-position it if it’s not quite right.Positioning Contact Paper
  5. Working from the center toward the edges, use your squeeqee or flat edge to smooth out all the bubbles and wrinkles.Smooth out the wrinkles and bubbles
  6. Write yourself a fun, congratulatory note on your new board, using regular markers, such as Crayola. Then simply wipe off with a damp cloth or paper towel.Written Note

Quick tip: Do you ever get residue on your boards from dry erase markers that won’t quite erase? A quick swab of rubbing alcohol will make that board as good as new. It also works on walls that have been, um, “decorated” with errant dry erase markers in the hands of an enthusiastic toddler. This part is still true!

Marker Board on desk for organizing thoughts.
See how organized I am now?

Anyone need some contact paper? I now have a 24 foot roll, with about 1 foot of it missing. Oh well, I’m sure there will be another project some day….

Update: I’ve since found actual dry erase sheets that look like they’d be a better fit for this project, if you want to use dry erase markers. You would follow the same process as this one to apply them to your surface. So there you have it, two ways to make a marker board or dry erase board!

Jamie P

Friday 11th of June 2021

Awesome idea. Looking forward to making some dry erase boards now myself.

Pati

Friday 25th of September 2020

Was your contact paper clear? Can I use plain white or anything with light coloring on it?

Meredith

Monday 28th of September 2020

Yes, mine was clear because I wanted to see the pattern of the board underneath. But I think you could use any kind, as long as it's got a glossy finish.

A

Thursday 10th of September 2020

I found this post while looking for a way to erase dry erase markers off of contact paper! I had the same idea myself and was bummed it wasn’t working out. So happy to learn I can use rubbing alcohol and regular markets from here on out! Thanks for the post!

Meredith

Monday 14th of September 2020

I'm so glad to know it's not just me! Glad I could help!

Alana Delisle

Sunday 5th of February 2017

Hi. So just to confirm, it works with regular markers and some dry erase markers? What type of markers do you use?

An idea I had a while ago... I wanted a large board to draw on, I taught kids drawing classes. You can purchase large pads of paper that are like an easel but I didn't like the waste. I wanted a dry erase board that wasn't really expensive. I remebered a yoga studio I went to that laminated their new client info form, scared it then wiped it clean for the next person.

I asked a printing company about the cost for a large page, maybe 3 x 4 feet and I think it was thirty dollars. I think that's about half the price of a board, and I old roll it up and take it with me in a poster tube. More portable and cheaper. Thought this idea could help for the woman who said she wanted to do a wall.

I think the smoother the surface, the easier to erase? Have you tried with glossy contact paper? I may try a roll from the dollar store and see if it works.

Thanks for your post!

Karen

Monday 5th of September 2016

I just googled "dry erase contact paper" and the brands that came up got mixed reviews. Is that what you used, or was it regular contact paper? Have you used any of the dry-erase contact paper? Just looking for other people's experiences with that material before I cover a large area of my wall. Thanks!

Meredith

Saturday 10th of September 2016

Hi Karen, this was just regular clear contact paper. I've heard mixed reviews about the dry erase paper too, and there's nothing worse than a dry erase board that won't erase! Sorry I don't have a better answer for you...

ABOUT MEREDITH


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook