The “Idea Wall” – Installing A Whiteboard Wall – On The Cheap.

Crossposted from my EdTechTeam Teacher Leader Portfolio.

As a part of the EdTechTeam Teacher Leader course we had to look at redesigning our learning space to make it more conducive to meeting our students’ needs. We looked at seating, arrangement and choice of furniture, and how we used our wall space.

I decided to use one of my walls to put up a 5.5ft wide, 8ft tall whiteboard. When I ran the idea by my principal he immediately dubbed it an “Idea Wall”. I installed it for about $45

On a lark I decided to also extend my whiteboard at the front of my room to the ceiling so that I could use it as a giant screen. This added a third sheet of panel board to my project and increased the cost to about $60 total.


When I did my research everyone said that the HomeDepot panel board worked much better than any of the other brands. I prefer to shop local but my local HomeDepot equivalent did not carry the correct kind of panel board so I ended up having to go to HomeDepot. With the exception of the panel board any equivalent item would probably work fine.


  • Tape Measure
  • Skill Saw
  • Drill motor with phillips head and 11/16″ size drill bit for pilot holes.
  • Yard/meter stick or chalk line
  • Level (if not setting panels on a kick-plate or preinstalled white board

    Safety Equipment (DON’T SKIP THESE)

  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Ear protection
  • Nitrile gloves (optional)


For this project I had 5.5ft between a cable run and the fire extinguisher on this wall. I decided to fill the whole space. The panelboard came in 4’x8′ sheets so I decided to cut them down to 5.5′ x 4′ to completely utilize the available horizontal space this meant that when putting two panels on top of each other I filled from the kick plate at the bottom of the wall to within a few inches of the top of the wall.

Creative Commons License Before starting.

I removed the blank wall plate. It was covering an empty wall box.

Cutting down and preparing the sheets.

  • If you cut the sheets of panel board without taking precautions it can fragment or shatter. 
  • The panels are very floppy and need to be fully supported by a very firm surface.
    Make sure it is supported to within a few inches of your cut line.
  • Cut outside the dusty sawdust gets into everything!
  1. Measure the board on both sides to the length you wish to cut and make a mark on both sides.
  2. Use 2 inch blue painters tape to cover the line you are going to cut, wrap it around the front and back of the cut.

    Creative Commons License Tape your cutline.
  3. After you have taped the cut line remeasure and mark your cut on top of the tape. I prefer using a chalk line but a straight edge will work fine too. Make sure to mark on the back side as you want to cut with the back side up, it protects the front coating better.

    Creative Commons License Chalk line to make a cutting line on the tape.
  4. Cut the panel board with the back side up.
    The panel board puts of a very fine dust like sawdust that is horrible for you if you breathe it in or get it in your eyes. I recommend full goggles not just glasses.

    Creative Commons License Don’t forget your protective gear!

    Creative Commons LicenseGoggles, dust mask, and ear protection are a must.
  5. The tape will protect the edge, after cutting you can remove it.IMG_0718Creative Commons License
  6. Sand the cut edge. Be careful not to scratch the white coating on the front of the board. KEEP WEARING YOUR EYE PROTECTION AND DUST MASK!
  7. Drill holes for your screws in the four corners and if you want it half way down the long sides. Drill from the front it does less damage to the panel board coating.

Mounting the boards

  1. Before you start, put a washer on each screw that you are going to use so that you are ready to go. You will thank yourself once you are actually putting the board on the wall.
  2. Apply double sided mounting tape to the edges of the panel board. Use clean hands!
    Stick the tape to the back of the panel board but don’t take off the paper until right before you are going to put the board up so the sticky doesn’t get dirty.

    1. On the side of the board that was to be the middle of the whiteboard I put strips on about 50% of the board to make sure that it wouldn’t flex on the wall.
    2. On the other three sides I put a piece about every 18″ to keep it solid to the wall.

      Creative Commons License Mounting tape on the “inside edge”.
  3. Peel the backing off the mounting tape and put your panel in the correct place. Put in your first screw then press the board flat across to the next screw to make sure that the board is as stretched and flat as you can get it to minimize jiggle when writing. This is the same as if you were putting up paper on the wall. Finish securing the other screws.
  4. Press the mounting tape firmly into the wall along the middle edge first then the other sides for 30+ seconds to make sure it adheres properly.
  5. Repeat with any other panels.
  6. If the edges of your panels on the outsides bow out you can flex them and add additional pieces of mounting tape.

Final Products

Creative Commons License Finished “Idea Wall” 5.5ft wide 8ft tall. – 2 sheets cut down to 5.5X4′
Creative Commons License Extended whiteboards. 2’X16′ – 1 sheet cut the long way.

The whiteboards came out well for a first attempt. It took me about 3.5 hours to cut and mount the panels. I was working by myself except for putting the “Idea Wall” panels on the wall where I had a helper holding the panels in place so I could mount them. I think it would have gone twice as fast if I had someone helping me the whole time. Unfortunately the cork strip isn’t removable so I am going to cover it with white paper because it is very annoying when using my projector.


Helpful Hints!

  • Make sure your painters tape is firmly pressed down along the whole length of your cut line so it doesn’t get peeled up while you are cutting.
  • Make sure to press your panels flat along the wall before putting in your screws you don’t want to have any slack in the panels.
  • Pay for the good double sided mounting tape. It makes a difference.
  • Measure twice, cut once.
  • Don’t forget to do your cutting outside and on a firm surface.
  • WEAR YOUR PROTECTIVE GEAR! (Seriously the sawdust from these boards is horrible.)



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