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Whiteboards are called both dry-erase boards and wet-erase boards depending on the surface properties. This is because they can be used with dry-erase markers and/or wet-erase markers. Dry- and wet-erase markers come in similar sizes, colors and pen tips and are often sold right beside each other in the store, which often confuses people.
As their names imply, the difference between a wet-erase marker and a dry-erase marker is that wet-erase markers require some kind of wet solution to be erased, whereas dry-erase markers can be erased easily with an eraser – the same kind you would use on a chalkboard.
Dry- vs. Wet-Erase Markers
Dry-erase markers use an alcohol-based ink, which makes them easy to wipe off from a whiteboard with only an eraser or dry rag. They are easy to use and erase, which is why they are the more popular option when it comes to whiteboard markers. Many people ask, "Will dry-erase markers come off glass?" and the answer is "yes." They will also come off any other nonporous surface. However, if used on a surface with pores, they can be very difficult to remove and may stain.
Wet-erase markers use a paste instead of the alcohol-based ink of dry-erase markers. This makes them semipermanent when used on nonporous surfaces, which is why a cloth used as a wet-erase marker eraser will require liquid in order to work properly. This is beneficial when you want to ensure that whatever you're writing or drawing will stick around for a while. Another benefit is that these markings will not fade or bubble under high heat, so they can be used on boards that are illuminated or on overhead projectors.
When to Use Which Marker
Which marker will be better for you will depend on your specific needs, whether you need something easy to erase or something that will stick around and if you'll be using something hot to illuminate the writing.
It's worth knowing that whiteboards labeled as "wet-erase boards" are often porous, which means they can be stained by dry-erase markers, whereas those sold as "dry-erase boards" are sometimes not waterproof, which means that wiping away wet-erase markers may damage them. It is important to know what kind of whiteboard you have before choosing your markers.
As long as you have a surface that can be used with both dry- and wet-erase markers (such as a quality whiteboard that is nonporous and waterproof), you can combine the two. This can be handy since you can then make charts or other graphics that feature semipermanent details made with wet-erase markers, like grids, while the details can be changed regularly if they are written with a dry-erase marker and erased with a dry rag.
DIY Wet-Erase Board Solution
While you can use water to clean fresh wet-erase marks, the longer the ink stays on a whiteboard surface, the harder it will be to erase. This is why it is advisable to use a solution if you need to erase something that's been left on the board for a while or that seems to be leaving a stain on your wet-erase board. There are many commercially available wet-erase board solutions, but if you want to save money with a DIY wet-erase board solution, just use a little rubbing alcohol instead.
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