In the late 1950s, a photographer by the name of Martin Heit made a minor mistake that ended up changing the course of conference room history forever.
Numbering his negatives to keep them in order, Heit accidentally wrote on one with a permanent marker. Realizing what he'd done, he reached for a cloth and wiped it away. The mark disappeared instantly.
From those seemingly insignificant origins sprung the invention of the whiteboard. Later, in 1975, Jerry Wolf invented the dry erase marker to much fanfare.
You've likely used one to explain a point during a presentation or teach a classroom of children an algebra equation. Yet, how much do you really know about these tools?
Today, we're sharing the ins and outs of the best dry erase markers on the market. We'll also discuss what sets the leaders apart and how you can get your hands on some today.
Ready to learn more? Let's take some notes.
In short, dry erase markers are designed to work on non-porous surfaces. They're ideal for glass, mirrors, metals and of course, whiteboards.
Their ink is comprised of colored pigments, a solvent and a silicone polymer that acts as a release agent. Permanent markers, too, have a polymer, but it's an acrylic one that adheres the ink to the surface rather than allowing it to release.
The solvent is usually an alcohol and helps the ink dry quickly, making it easier to wipe it off without smearing.
Dry erase whiteboards are helpful because they feature a static charge that helps the ink pigment stick to the surface without becoming absorbed into it. Yet, over time, markers for whiteboard use can leave traces of color behind, even when the ink is wiped away.
To this end, glass whiteboards and dry erase markers for glass are growing trends, as the surface cannot stain and is often tempered for added durability.
This is an especially popular and attractive choice for the workplace, as glass whiteboards can be designed to almost float in a space, giving a sleek and modern look to any room. They're a streamlined alternative to chunkier whiteboards that can take up valuable real estate in an already-cramped office.
Now that we've discussed the history and purpose behind the dry erase marker, let's get to the fun part.
When you're ready to invest in a new set of markers, you don't want to waste your time on ones that will dry up after a few minutes, leave streaks on everything they touch and stink up the entire room. Rather, you want ones that can keep their color indefinitely, erase cleanly and are low-odor, to boot.
Below are the eight best dry erase markers available today. Depending on your use case, you might gravitate toward a certain model. Or, you may be tempted to try them all!
Looking to write a message that's easily seen from a great distance, yet gives you agility and flexibility as a writer? This set fits the bill.
The chisel tip makes it easy to write even the lengthiest memo with ease, making them usable in the workplace, classroom and home.
There's a reason that Expo remains the top-selling, customer-preferred dry erase marker brand. The colors are vivid, the size is optimal and the pigment is perfectly distributed on each surface without skipping.
This set features low-odor markers, meaning you can use them in myriad environments without fear of leaving an unpleasant scent behind. When you've finished creating your work, the ink is both quick-drying and easy to erase, meaning you can be onto your next creation in a matter of seconds.
When you want to mix up your style, these markers are also available in bullet, fine and ultra-fine tips, in addition to the chisel tip.
It's great to have a wide range of marker colors to choose from. Yet, do you find yourself always going back to the same basic shades?
Especially if you're using long lasting dry erase markers in a corporate environment, you might not need shades such as lime green or plum. Yet, chances are you reach for the black, green, red, purple and blue time and again.
This assorted set from Expo includes 36 markers, assorted in those exact colors.
While the larger size count is ideal for group settings, those looking for a smaller-scale portion can also find the same colors in the brand's 8-count, 12-count, 14-count or 16-count sets within the same model.
Or, if you need to go jumbo-sized, you can order this set in a 192-count! Holding a conference or seminar? Keep an extra-large set on hand to make sure everyone has access to the resources they need.
As with all of Expo's products, this set features bold colors easily viewable from a long distance away. The markers, which are also quick-drying and easy to erase, come in chisel-tip, bullet-tip, fine-tip and extra-fine-tip styles.
Looking for a great gift for your co-worker, colleague or family member? Why not give one of these sets of 12 Expo markers away and keep the other for yourself?
Their fine point makes them as akin to a traditional pen as possible, meaning you'll have a comfortable grip and can write more precisely. With bright colors including plum and lime green, you can also get creative with this set.
Feeling generous? You can also purchase this assortment in sets of three or eight. They're low-odor, quick to dry and a breeze to erase. In other words, they're the ideal staple in your office desk, classroom cubby or kitchen drawer.
Have you heard of AmazonBasics?
This program offers everyday household necessities, from USB cables to bed linens, at a fraction of retail price. They've also extended into the office supply space, and these markers are proof that you can get excellent-quality tools without sky-high prices.
Featuring DryGuard ink that erases without leaving a trace behind, these markers come in a variety of bright colors that will retain their dynamic hue even if you inadvertently forget to put the cap back on.
In fact, you can leave the cap off for two whole days and they won't dry out! This shouldn't be a problem, however, as the cap is designed to snap onto the back of the pen during use. This makes them the perfect whiteboard markers!
The chisel tip is versatile enough to enable you to create a thick or thin line with ease and the pen's barrel is slim, providing a comfortable grip. This is an important feature in classroom settings, where teachers often spend hours on end writing instructions and lessons on their whiteboard.
If creativity and imaginative design are your calling cards, then this set is for you. It takes standard, basic colors up a notch with bright neons and bold hues.
The 100% recyclable, eco-friendly, tube-shaped packaging makes it an attractive accessory that you won't hesitate to leave out for everyone to see. It's also a versatile one, as the pens work just as well on glass surfaces as they do on a whiteboard.
Featuring a fine tip comprised of upgraded, quality fiber, the pens also come equipped with a caps-lock ventilation system that keeps them from drying out. Use these for your crafting projects, when the traditional set just won't do.
When you're doing a presentation, you'll need the right tools to deliver your message. It must be clear, and well-written, which are two of the advantages this pack of markers provides.
It is a 24-Pack marker set that delivers plenty of vibrant colors to satisfy your artistic needs.
Because of its dry-erase qualities, there won't be any issue wiping the surface clean after you finish with your work. Speaking of the surface, you can use these markers on almost every non-porous surface, glass, and other areas.
These markers have durable tips and low odor ink. One of its best benefits is that you can use it and expect no more than a few moments for the ink to dry successfully. And because they are non-toxic, you get to use them in different environments, even classrooms.
You might encounter issues with the magnet, though, as it falls off regularly and it doesn't stick.
This pack of 12 colored markers provides the variety you need to keep you covered during every task: from office projects to school activities, Quartet doesn't fail to provide with vibrant lime green, purple, red, neon blue, among others.
They are particularly effective in keeping the children entertained at school, and as a teacher or parent, there's no reason to worry about their security. The ink included is non-toxic, and doesn't produce odor, which makes them suitable for everyone to use in closed spaces like a classroom.
Also, for the high demanding artists, the markers have a chisel tip that allows them to do a high number of detailed artworks. You can use it to draw either thick or thin designs, depending on what your project requires. The tip makes them highly versatile markers.
A minor disadvantage of using these markers comes up when you use it on glass whiteboard. There, colors like red or lime green don't look so good.
Buying in bulk often leads to disappointment when the products aren't capable of providing high-quality results. Unfortunately, that's what happens with this pack of markers.
It includes 36 total markers, which is quite a lot compared to the most popular brands. There's no denying that you'll get an incredible variety of colors to put your ideas onto the board, but the issues are noticeable since the moment you put the marker's tip on the surface.
You see, the low price of these markers is there for a reason, and that reason is the markers don't show enough opacity. If you're using them in a classroom, for example, you might as well get all the kids in the back to sit at the front, because they won't be able to see the text from that far.
Now that we've covered some of the best, are you ready to start shopping? Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you begin your search.
How easily do the markers erase? Do they leave a smear or a stain behind or does all of the pigment release without leaving a trace? Wet erase markers will require a damp cloth to remove the ink, but a dry erase marker should wipe up quickly.
Do you have to use a special, specific eraser designed just for the set, or can you use any cloth or even your hand in a pinch? Look for ones that are as fuss-free as possible.
This will be more of an issue for some than others. If you're just looking for standard black markers, you can find a set that meets that need easily.
Yet, if you're in a more artistic field and need a wider range of shades, you'll need to narrow your search to brands that can provide that spectrum. The good news? Even well-known brands such as Expo create assorted sets chocked full of almost every color in the rainbow.
Traditionally, dry erase markers have been synonymous with pungent chemical smells. Yet, the low-odor solutions that have taken over the market make this a thing of the past.
If you're concerned about the number of chemicals you're putting into the environment by using these markers, look to buy from companies that prioritize eco-friendly production methods and materials. One example is the ZenZoi set listed above!
Still have a few lingering questions about dry erase markers? No problem! Let's take a look at some of the most common inquiries surrounding these tools.
The short answer? No.
These markers work best on non-porous surfaces, as they can wipe away easily from them and the ink doesn't absorb. While you technically can use dry erase markers on paper, it's not a recommended approach.
If you do, the ink immediately absorbs into the paper and becomes permanent.
No. Dry erase markers are alcohol-based. This is what gives them their quick-drying power.
Wet erase markers include water-soluble dyes. This is what makes them usable on non-porous laminated surfaces, erasable only by a damp cloth.
For years, dry markers were deemed unrecyclable because they are comprised of a certain type of plastic. They also include an ink insert that can combust during the recycling process.
Yet, there are programs that seek to repurpose that plastic. The most prominent is ColorCycle, developed by Crayola. Students in grades K-12 can send in their regular markers, dry erase ones, or even Sharpies, and learn how they're making a huge impact on their environment.
Not in a classroom setting? Even though you can't exactly toss them into your recycling bin, you can still put your old and dried up markers to good use. Here are a few ideas on how you can repurpose them:
As versatile and useful as they are downright fun, the best dry erase markers have earned their spot as a mainstay at both work and home.
With so many makes and models to choose from, you can take your pick from a bevy of options, all designed to spur creativity and inspire communication.
Looking to learn more about everything marker-related? You've come to the right place.
We've done the reserach and put in the legwork for you, bringing you honest reviews of the best products on the market. From fabric pens to dry erase tools, if it leaves an impression, we want to leave ours.
Any questions about which markers to buy? Have a particular category you'd love to see us address? Reach out today and let's make that mark together.
Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.
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