Wet Erase vs Dry Erase Markers: A Quick Comparison

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

wet erase vs dry erase markers

Markers are a popular writing tool. Among their sub-types are wet erase markers and dry erase markers. It is easy to assume that there are a lot of differences in features and applications.

These markers share multiple similarities, particularly in terms of their design, types, and cost. To identify a wet-erase marker from a dry one, you need to be able to test the ink. Then, you will see that the ink formula, permanence, and durability differ.

For detailed information on wet erase vs dry erase markers. Keep reading!

Wet Erase Markers 101


Wet erase markers are writing tools with semi-permanent ink. They are paste-based and made up of water-soluble pigments.

Wet erase markers can be used on non-porous surfaces like hard plastics, ceramics, glasses, etc. A notably common medium is the whiteboard.

Since wet erase markers are semi-permanent, these writing tools are great for drawing templates. In classrooms, offices, or similar settings, for instance, you can use them to outline and mark calendar boxes. You can use them on laminated prints too.

There are several types of wet erase markers: liquid chalk, rainproof, and neon. So, you can choose the one that suits your needs.

1. Liquid Chalk Wet Erase Markers

  • Mimic the appearance of chalk and can be used on chalkboards
  • Best for display and promotional messages

2. Rainproof Wet Erase Markers

  • Does not fade, blur, or smear when wet
  • Ideal for outdoor use and wet settings

3. Neon Wet Erase Markers

  • Delivers vibrant and eye-catching colors
  • Fantastic for fun and creative advertisements
  • Multi-purpose: You can use wet erase markers on various non-porous surfaces
  • Variations: Wet erase markers come in different colors and tips (fine, medium, chisel, bullet, wide,…)
  • Heat Resistance: You can use wet erase markers outdoors and under projector lights. The ink of these markers will not bubble and fade under heat.
  • Picky Erasing: You need a damp cloth to remove the ink from wet erase markers

Popular brands of water-based dry erase markers are Crayola, EXPO, and Staples.

However, when shopping for wet erase boards, you will usually find black ones. This is because a black surface lets wet erase markers produce more visible markings.

To remove wet erase marker ink, you will need a wet cloth. In most cases, wiping is sufficient. Sometimes, though, rubbing and scrubbing are necessary.

Dry Erase Markers 101


Dry erase markers are also writing tools with ink that can be wiped clean and used on non-porous surfaces. However, unlike their wet-erase counterparts, dry-erase markers are alcohol-based.

By the same token, the ink of dry-erase markers is not semi-permanent. You will just need a dry cloth, sponge, or eraser to remove any ink.

That being said, you would opt for a dry-erase marker instead of a wet one when the time between writing and erasing is short.

The ink used in these markers consists of color pigments, alcohol, and an oily silicone polymer.

  • Color Pigments: Give the ink its color
  • Alcohol: Makes the ink dry quickly and sets it in place without letting the surface absorb it
  • Oily Silicone Polymer: Makes the ink slippery and wipeable
  • Easy Erasing: You can wipe the ink of dry erase markers off without a damp cloth
  • Multi-purpose: You can use wet erase markers on different non-porous surfaces
  • Variations: dry erase ones are available in different colors and types of tips. You have plenty of options to consider depending on your desired style.
  • Chemical Smell: Dry erase markers have a strong chemical smell, which can cause irritation, dizziness, headaches, and other symptoms of allergic reactions.
  • Not Water Soluble: Dry erase markers cannot be used for wet (or potentially wet) surfaces. Therefore, between wet erase board vs. dry erase board, they do not work well on the former.

Dry Erase vs. Wet Erase Markers

1. Drying Time

  • It takes roughly 15 to 30 seconds for the ink of dry erase markers to dry once it is set over a non-porous surface. The ink settles more deeply after 24 hours.
  • Unlike dry erase markers, wet erase markers require slightly more time to dry. It can take up to 24 hours for the ink to settle and dry completely. This is because of its chemical composition.

2. Durability

  • Dry erase markers are for temporary usage, so their ink can be erased easily. But there are downsides: the ink can more easily smear of smudge. Plus, the ink will fade over time.
  • On the other hand, wet erase markers last longer because they are semi-permanent in nature. You can expect them to stay without dulling once you put them down on a non-porous surface.

3. Erasing Method

As stated in the names, you can erase the ink of both dry and wet erase markers on a surface. You can thus, use either types of items that change or update daily like a specials menu at a restaurant or bar.

  • You can clean the ink of dry erase markers off using a dry cloth or eraser. It is also possible to use dry tissue. You just need to wipe through the inked surface; rubbing or scrubbing is not necessary.
  • For the ink of wet erase markers, you will need to use something damp. Although you can still use a cloth, as with dry erase markers, the cloth has to be wet. In some cases, you might have to exert effort into rubbing and scrubbing as well.

Since you need a damp item to erase wet erase markers’ ink, the market also offers cleaning solutions that typically come in spray bottles. You can spritz a bit of the solution on a cloth to get the job done.

4. Cost

  • Most dry erase markers and wet erase markers are on average under $1 per marker. Some can cost up to $1.5 per marker. The brand and whether the markers are sold in bulk affects the price.
  • Usually, you can find both dry erase markers and wet erase markers in packs of 4, 8, 12, and 24. If you need more than that, there are options of +100 markers too.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are wet erase markers better than dry erase markers?

The better marker is the one that meets your needs. So, there is no straightforward YES or NO to this question. Some people prefer wet erase markers because it has heat resistance and no potent chemical smell.

What surfaces do wet erase markers work on?

As mentioned above, wet erase markers work on non-porous surfaces like hard plastics, ceramics, glasses, metals, etc. Depending on the type, you might be able to use them on chalkboards too. It is also possible for you to use them on both indoors and outdoors surfaces.

Do wet erase markers smudge?

Wet erase markers will not smudge once it is fully dry. Some brands ensure this better than others. So, if smudging is a big no-no for you, be sure to look for smudge-free wet erase markers.

Will wet erase markers be used on dry erase boards?

Yes. They will still work. So, you can definitely use wet erase markers on a dry erase board if you want to. But when doing so, you should not let the ink dry, as they can leave stubborn stains on the board.

Is a dry erase board the same as a whiteboard?

According to most online sources, dry erase boards and whiteboards are, by nature, the same. They are made of the same material and have a glossy appearance. To wipe these boards clean, you need a dry sponge or cloth. There is no need to dig deeper on dry erase board vs. whiteboard.


Now that you have finished reading this wet erase vs dry erase markers article, you should know that they look quite the same, come in similar types, and carry close price tags but are different in that one is paste-based and semi-permanent and one is alcohol-based and temporary.

If you need to mark a non-porous surface exposed to heat, a wet erase marker is something you can use instead of a dry erase marker.

Hopefully, you no longer have to ponder between the two. Share this so others can learn about wet erase markers vs. dry erase markers too.

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