200+ Years of Writable and Erasable Walls

The history of the blackboard placed on a wall can be attributed to Scotland’s James Pillans, Headmaster of the Old High School of Edinburgh who reportedly built a composite slate wall out of students’ individual slates so he could teach geography. By 1801 an instructor at West Point Military Academy, George Baron was using black boards to teach math. Over the next half century, blackboards utilizing chalk as markers became a fixture on the walls of just about every school room in America.

The grease pencil, wax pencil or china marker was adopted as the first writable-erasable marker for smooth surfaces and was made of hardened colored wax and was used to mark non-porous surfaces for identification, inspection and communication. The grease pencil was being commonly used in 1916 when it was used to mark the map of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Photographic film and ceramic coated steel panels were developed the 1950s and 1960s as writable and erasable surfaces (white boards) using grease pencils for communicating. In the 1970s polyurethane coated steel, aluminum and fiberglass substrates were used as writable and erasable surfaces for communication and reference with grease pencils. In the early 1970s Thomas Brothers Maps of Los Angeles introduced wall maps with non-porous sealed surfaces so grease pencils could be used to identify locations. In 1975 the first dry erase ink marker was patented and sold by Pilot Pen for use on writable and erasable surfaces replacing the grease pencil in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.
White-boards, while developed in the 1950s and 1960s gained popularity in the 1980s as health concerns developed with regards to traditional chalk boards. In the late 1980s erasable films were produced resulting in the first commercially available coating installation system to make traditional walls writable and erasable.

The first polysiloxane hybrid coating was introduced and patented by Ameron Performance Coatings in January of 1994. The product designed to be an industrial performance coating for metal substrates created a non-porous hard coating film that demonstrated excellent writable-erasable properties when cured. In 1996 Southern California Edison and Bechtel who had been using the polysiloxane coating on the exterior steel surfaces of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in southern California used the polysiloxane to coat the walls, consoles and operations desks of the control room resulting in writable-erasable surfaces.

In the late 1990s MP3.com coated the walls of their San Diego offices with an aliphatic polyurethane to create writable-erasable wall surfaces. MC McMurray Painting applied the aliphatic polyurethane to the walls of the MP3.com offices and conference room. These documented applications of polysiloxane and polyurethane coatings being used to create writable and erasable surfaces may have not been the first or only applications and use, but the projects were documented and demonstrate the innovation of dry erase paint and the creation of writable-erasable painted surfaces in the 1990s.

Precision Coatings introduced its first fine finish cleanable polysiloxane coating in 2006 under the name PC5. PC5 is supplied in several sheens and installed on tile surfaces, steel substrates, aluminum substrates, sealed gypsum board and cementacious substrates. PC5 provides a hard non-porous, easily cleaned and anti-graffiti coating that is commercially attractive in restaurants, retail, healthcare, theme parks and offices while containing no dangerous isocyanates. PC5 also demonstrates writable-erasable properties for dry erase markers but it was not fully optimized as a dry erase paint.
In 2011, Precision introduced EeZeClean Dry Erase Paint as a polysiloxane coating based on the proven polysiloxane technology of PC5. EeZeClean demonstrated excellent dry erase ink release properties, a ceramic like non-porous finish and excellent adhesion to quality acrylic emulsion architectural paints. EeZeClean was the first polysiloxane coating to be manufactured and marketed as a dry erase paint for writable-erasable surfaces.

Polysiloxanes are much safer and easier to install in occupied structures than traditional polyurethanes which contain dangerous isocyanates (see OSHA Instruction CPL 03-00-017 National Emphasis Program – Occupational Exposure to Isocyanates). EeZeClean Dry Erase Paint was formulated with safety and the environment in mind.

EeZeClean Dry Erase Paint is manufactured by Precision Coatings in Springfield, Missouri and distributed through paint retailers in the Americas.