Whiteboard Markers: Essential Tools for Classrooms

October 26, 2021 — by Richard Dawson

close-up of 4 white board markers

Capturing and keeping children’s attention in class can be a challenge. Having and using the right tools in your classroom can make all the difference. While many educators are integrating technology in the classroom to enhance student learning, there are some teachers who still prefer to write on a large board. Whiteboards and flipcharts are essential tools that enhance your classroom, providing you with live feedback and an immediate overview of your student’s knowledge.  

A good marker goes hand in hand with your whiteboard. A whiteboard marker is ideal for writing on whiteboards and is particularly useful for lectures and presentations. It is also great for drawing when children’s creativity kicks in. Using a variety of different coloured markers on a whiteboard is a great way to communicate and interact effectively with your students.

Whatever colour you want – red, green, blue, or black – there is a wide range of whiteboard and flipchart markers, coming in various width lines as well as a range of tips and inks. Special pens for whiteboards are not only available individually, but also as a set. A typical whiteboard marker set contains 4, 6, or 8 markers in assorted colours. Read on to learn how to choose the right marker for your classroom.  

How to Choose Whiteboard Markers

close-up of whiteboard markers

When choosing whiteboard markers, keep in mind that they can be suitable for a variety of applications. More than anything else, they are designed for use on whiteboards, specially coated boards, and smooth surfaces like glass, porcelain, and overhead transparencies. Any marker will make a mark on a whiteboard, but not all of those marks can be easily erased. You should take into consideration the type of marker tip and ink as well.

Whiteboard Surface

When choosing a marker, think about the type of writing surface you’ll use it on. From the start, whiteboards have been intended to feature smooth, non-porous writing surfaces that could be erased quickly and easily. They can be made from many different materials, including melamine, porcelain, and glass. Whichever of the three whiteboard materials you use, the best thing to write with on them is a good quality dry erase marker. Dry-wipe pens remain on the surface without settling permanently, and due to their quick-dry-up features, these markers don’t require messy clean-up. With a gentle scrubbing using an eraser, cloth, or paper towel, dry-erase markings are gone. 

Types of Ink

refillable whiteboard markers

Ink type is probably the most important consideration when it comes to choosing the right whiteboard marker. Whiteboard markers can vary in ink colour. The ink is typically made of colour pigments, a chemical solvent, and a polymer or “release agent.” Different types of markers use different kinds of polymer. For example, permanent markers use an acrylic polymer that helps the pigment stick to surfaces. Whereas dry erase markers use an oily silicone polymer, which makes the ink slippery and prevents the coloured pigment of the marker to come in direct contact with the surface. For this reason, dry-wipe markers are easily erased. Also, the solvent, typically alcohol-based, allows the ink to dry quickly and adhere to whiteboards without binding to or being absorbed by them. There is also ink with a capillary system for clean and straightforward refilling of almost all markers. 

Marker Tips

The marker tip is another thing that you should take into consideration when choosing a marker. With the right marker tip, you are well away. Depending on the size and shape, there are different types of marker tips: chisel, fine, bullet, brush, broad, and so many more. Thin-tipped markers make thicker lines since they deliver more ink, and therefore are ideal for finer writing or drawing. Rounded tip markers come with a wide range of tip thicknesses and are generally used for writing. To attract more attention, consider chisel tips which are used for drawing both thin and thick lines. Markers with brush tips cover larger areas more quickly since they have a tip shaped like a small watercolour paintbrush, and hence are good for almost anything. 

Cleaning Accessories for Whiteboards

whiteboard celaning products

When choosing markers, consider getting cleaning fluids too, to keep your board clean after using markers on it. Whiteboards are useful as long as you wipe the surface clean regularly. It’s only a matter of time, however, before they start to accumulate stains and smudges, and the whiteboard no longer stays white. Heavy use and repeated erasing can make whiteboards look worn out with remnants of past marks. Usually, a damp cloth can remove those annoying marks. But if you have left the marker sit too long or accidentally used a permanent marker, you will need a liquid solvent to clean your whiteboard thoroughly. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of whiteboard cleaning products that are made specifically for problem erasing. Whiteboard cleaning kits and sprays can clean whiteboards rigorously and keep them in pristine condition.