Friday, November 4, 2011

Magnetic Paint: The Deets

A number of people have expressed interest in magnetic paint and wondered how it's working.  The short answer is so-so.  Here's what I learned. 

1. First up, the product.  

I used Rustoleum, I suppose because that's what they had at the store.  It's not cheap at about $25 for a quart.  The label says to use three thin coats, and that a quart will cover 16 square feet this way.   I covered exactly 16sf (the length of my hallway times one foot wide) and had a bit of primer left in the can.

2.  Color and consistency: tar black and splattery.

It went on thick but uneven, and I found it to be extremely splattery.  Okay, I made that word up, but see below.

Splattery.  (You should see my hands.)  I would recommend covering the wall surrounding your magnet space in plastic, and be sure to tarp the floor CAREFULLY.  The black splatter does not come up with a baby wipe.  (My extra special and foolproof method for removing latex paint from wood.)

3.  Coverage
The can suggests two coats of your chosen color so as not to interfere with the magnetic powers of the primer.  The can also says the primer will be grey, making it sound like it should not be too difficult to cover. But after two coats of Ace's California Dreaming (see below), I knew I was going to have to go for a third color coat and cross my fingers that magnets would still hold.

I should mention too that there is no warning from the product that light colors may not cover well enough.  In fact, there is a picture on the can of a mint green magnet board.

4. Edges and Texture
When I removed the painter's tape, I encountered another problem:  the magnet paint had bled a tiny bit, but the top coat had not, leaving a pencil thin line of black along the top of my painted area.

And some messy seams along the corner.

It's possible that this is because I was out of the awesome Frog tape and instead used the look alike green tape from Ace which may just not be up to the task.  I will probably tape just above the line and fill in with the citron color, though I am very nervous about adding MORE paint over the magnet surface.

5. Texture
Problem: there is some.  The magnetic primer leaves a sort of rough texture on the wall (despite using foam rollers for smooth surfaces as recommended).  You can totally see the difference between the painted bits and the painted over magnetic primer bits.  I can't seem to capture it in pictures, but believe me, it's annoying.

6. Hold
But does it work?  You will ask.  And I will answer: yes.  Sort of.  We have some fashion magnets that hold to the wall on their own, but add a piece of paper and it's kaputzies.  The Small and Mighty magnets seem to be working just fine, so we will get more of those (adding to the tally for this seemingly "simple" and "cheap" project!)

7. Recommendations
If I were planning a magnet project with my newfound knowledge, I would NOT try to do a partial wall and match the color.  I would either do a discrete area or go wall to wall (though that could get priey, fast.)  I would be tempted to try four coats of the primer.  I would also not try to cover the primer with a light color.  I would go for Navy or Purple or Charcoal or Black.  (Why am I capitalizing my colors?)  Or chalkboard paint--I think this is a wonderful idea, though I know form experience that chalkboard paint only looks good for so long before it needs to be washed, and that eventually it really needs to be repainted, at which point you might weaken your magnets.

We'll see how it holds up.  The girls seem excited about it, which is a big part of the point, and the hallway definitely feels more finished, but I have to say, it is a little clean-lined for my taste.  Maybe I will end up with one foot stripes of citron and white.....

Anything I missed?  Happy to answer additional questions.  Unclear?  I hear you.  For some reason my tired brain had a difficult time organizing this information into something useful.



  1. seems to be an innovative solution. I think I like it, I might even try it! If it holds...

  2. I love it! And I think your search for the perfect magnet might be really fun. I'm guessing you don't keep your computer in the hallway, but I'm wondering if the project has affected your Wi-Fi. Just curious since the wall I've toyed with painting sits right next to my computer/ charging station.


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