In an earlier post I complained about the practice of some venues to prohibit posting materials on the walls of meeting rooms. So I thought I’d summarize here some ways of posting on walls that avoid wall damage. These methods should be acceptable to any venue. Many of them are described in The Big Book of Flip Charts by Robert Lucas, an exhaustive guide to what can be done with those pads of 27″ x 34″ pieces of paper that we know so well. I’ve divided the methods into two groups: attachment solutions and wall treatment solutions.
If allowed by the venue, masking tape is a convenient method to hang paper and cards on a wall. I recommend 1″ wide, fresh, name brand (e.g. 3M, Scotch) tape. A couple of 3″ strips of tape placed at the corners will hold a piece of flip chart paper securely. If you are going to be hanging many sheets of paper, you can use a continuous strip of high quality double-sided masking tape e.g. 3M 9415PC. Run the strip horizontally at about a six-foot height, and you’ll be able to hang paper anywhere along its length.
Although much more expensive than plain paper pads, flip chart pads with a 2″ strip of tacky adhesive at the top of each sheet provide a convenient method of quickly hanging flip chart paper without having to mess with strips of masking tape.
Self-adhesive paper rolls
One way to create large drawing surfaces is to tape roll paper to a wall using continuous strips of masking tape. If you have to move the drawing surface a few times, consider using an adhesive backed paper roll. Two products I have found but not yet used are manufactured by Pacon: GOcraft! and GOwrite!
GOcraft! banner paper is available in 12″ x 40′ and 24″ x 25′ rolls. The paper is backed with a post-it like adhesive. The manufacturer claims it will adhere indefinitely to a clean, hard surface and to textured surfaces like fabric covered wall for several days. You use permanent marker to write on the product and Pacon claims that no bleed-through will occur.
GOwrite! is available in 18″ x 6′ or 20′ and 24″ x 10′ or 20′ rolls which provide a dry erase surface to use with any dry-erase markers. According to the manufacturer, GOwrite! erases cleanly without whiteboard shadowing. You attach the product by removing a peel-off removable liner sheet. It will adhere indefinitely to most hard surfaces, but will not stay on textured walls for extended periods. Pacon claims that removal will not ruin surfaces. You can move it “two or three times” before its adhesion deteriorates and the corners start to curl.
Sticky notes are a great tool for “cards-on-the-wall” group techniques, like affinity grouping, and they are often the only things that venues will allow you to attach to their walls. For small groups, 3″ x 5″ notes may be large enough, but I prefer to use 6″ x 8″ Post-it® Brand Super Sticky Meeting Notes for large groups.
Thumb tacks, if allowed by a venue, are a convenient method for attaching paper and cards to cork boards. Buy map style not flat head pins. And at a pinch, you can use straight or safety pins to attach flip chart paper to draperies.
For mounting to fabric-covered walls, use these mounting squares, which provide an adhesive side that attaches permanently to paper or card, and a velcro-like side that provides strong yet removable adhesion to fabric-covered walls.
Cloth panel wall clips provide another convenient method for attaching paper and card to fabric-covered walls. They are more expensive than adhesive strips, but you can move and reuse them over and over again.
Vinyl dry erase pads are 27″ x 34″ white sheets, packaged in a roll, that stick to a wall by static electricity. They will not stay up indefinitely, but work fine for temporary use during an event. Because they stick to everything, they are not easy to install. So, put them in place before a session begins. You can write on them with either permanent (preferable) or dry erase markers. Like most inexpensive whiteboard substitutes they are hard to erase completely. Expect to replace sheets after a few uses.
Wall treatment solutions
Ideapaint is a treatment that turns any smooth flat wall into a dry erase surface. You must apply it correctly and it’s not cheap ($175 – $200 for 50 sq. ft. coverage), though Ideapaint’s price compares favorably to the cost of a high quality whiteboard.
Steel or corkboard or wooden wall strips
One of the simplest ways to make a venue wall attachment friendly is to install horizontal strips that can be used to attach flip chart paper. Such strips are available in various materials: steel (use magnets to attach), wood or metal-framed corkboard (use pins), and wood (use appropriately spaced straight pins or nails on which binder clips can be hung). Steel and wood can be painted to match the wall decor, while cork board strips are generally attractive and unobtrusive
Whiteboards offer a permanent solution for writing and posting on venue walls. At prices of around $15-$20 per square foot, they are not inexpensive, but they offer perhaps the ultimate flexibility for meeting activities that require a vertical posting or drawing surface. The older (and less expensive) melamine surfaces suffer from “ghosting” of dry erase markers over time and are not recommended for institutional use. Nowadays, most whiteboards use a hard porcelain finish over steel, which allows the use of magnets to hold materials on the surface.
There are probably other methods available for non-destructive posting on walls that I haven’t mentioned here. What have I missed?
Photo attribution: Flickr user ezu