There are three main aspects to cover when answering the question how do whiteboards work.
The board itself, and the marker you are using, and how the combination of these work together.
Firstly, the board, it depends what board you have, flexible laminate, melamine, porcelain, or glass. All these boards have surfaces which are glossy and have a high surface energy. Glossy surfaces are usually easier to clean because they do not have the texture of a matte surface for dirt & grit to get stuck in. In contrast high surface energy make things easier to stick to them. So, we have a substrate that is easy to clean, but has a good surface energy so that marker will cling to it.
Secondly, the marker you choose. Markers can make a big difference! Whiteboards markers with solvents in them like xylene and toluene can leave ghosting behind as they etch into the whiteboard surface. This is not usually a problem with glass or porcelain boards, but melamine and certain flexible film laminates can be affected by these pens. The pens have an oily silicone polymer-based ink which flashes off quickly and will stick to the surface, because of the surface energy, but does not have enough grip to stay there permanently.
Thirdly, it’s important to get the right combination of whiteboard and marker. Some flexible film laminates do not work well with solvent based markers because the solvents etch into these. Melamine can be the same, as they ghost easily. This is also because these are the most economical whiteboards, so the dry erase surface does not last as long before the marker is ingrained.
At Tosh & Leod our flexible film laminates can take any type of pen, whether it is solvent, or water based. Our pens do not have any xylene or toluene in them, which is better for you, and better for your whiteboard.