Using Magnetic Paint


I can count the number of times on one hand that my children have actually played in the room we made their playroom two and a half years ago, when we moved into this house. In an effort to increase my own personal space, I dedicated last weekend to making the room a place that they actually want to spend time in, rather than sitting an inch away from wherever I happen to be.

magnet wall

I wanted to do something interesting on the big wall, and since we don’t have any magnetic surfaces in the house, I thought it would be fun to make a whole thing a giant magnet. The kids could hang their pictures, instead of finding them in the recycling bin, and we’d have a place to slap up holiday cards. A roller, a can of black magnetic paint and I’d be golden. Ten points for mommy!

Unfortunately, it was more like seven cans of paint and my sanity. The box claims it will take three coats, but that’s bullshit — nothing stuck on that wall after three coats. Six coats later, magnets finally do stick to the wall and it is pretty cool, but OMG, the process almost killed me.

drawings on magnet wall

The good news is that the kids do, indeed, want to play in their playroom now. The bad? They’re messing up my freaking masterpiece. But, the effort was worth it. What’s a weekend of painting in return for the beautiful sound of children playing happily… at a distance? Small price to pay.

magnetic wall

If you want to try using magnetic paint yourself, here are a few things I learned the hard way…

• You have to stir it like crazy. Seriously – be prepared  for a major bicep workout.

• Wear gloves unless you want semi-permanent black fingernails.

• Use excessive drop cloths. This paint drips so freaking much.

• You’ll need paint thinner to remove the splatters, because it splatters like you wouldn’t believe.

• It stinks. Open a window and blast a fan.

• Buy extra. You will need so much more than you think you do. The more you paint, the stronger it becomes.

Or, just buy a big magnet board. Yeah, that would work, too.

(But, then you wouldn’t have the right to yell “I spent a whole weekend painting this fucking room. You better go play in it, dammit!”)


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  1. Life with Kaishon says

    Jill! My experience with this stuff has been much the same. It is the bane of my existence. I feel like a complete mommy failure because everyone and their brother loves the stuff : (

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  2. Heather says

    NEVER. Not going to happen. If luck has it, my kids will hang around enough equally poor/unmotivated people that they never even HEAR of such a thing until they have kids!

    I would, however, go for the “blackboard” paint so they can use chalk on the walls.

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      • June says

        A note about the blackboard paint: take the extra time to make the wall surface flat and smooth. Trust me. I layered the blackboard paint over the magnetic paint and both work as promised, but the texture of the wall impairs the magnetic and makes the chalkboard not as awesome as I wanted.

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  3. Coleen says

    I also did a magnetic wall for my kids, and you are absolutely correct, it takes WAY more than suggested. Plus I was dumb enough to try the spray paint first. I painted over the magnetic wall with chalk board paint. The kids loved being allowed to “write on the walls”.

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  4. Scary Mommy says

    My plan WAS to cover it with the chalkboard paint, but that went out the window after coat 5. Maybe someday I’ll add it, but the thought of chalk dust everywhere isn’t all that appealing right now.

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    • Christina Baglivi Tinglof says

      Good instinct to forego the chalkboard paint. I used it on my boys’ closet doors and it just doesn’t look as cute as it does in the magazines. Never really cleans off completely either and the dust does get everywhere…plus bits of chalk…and erasers. Ugh.

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      • Arnebya says

        I’ll second that. The chalkboard paint is cute in the store and maybe not much of a nuisance on a very small scale, but I learned after doing a whole wall of raspberry chalkboard paint in my girls’ room that 1) it’s dull as hell, 2) it needed 2 1/2 coats, not 1, 3) you can wipe until the skin peels off your hands but it ain’t gonna fully get clean of whatever was written/drawn, and 3) that damn chalk dust is everywhere! Whenever these small people tell me they have nothing to do: Take your ass upstairs and play school.

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  5. Wendy says

    This is one of those kinds of pictures that is perfect for Pinterest and screams that it is perfect for the ultimate play room…until I read your advice, er, warning. Giant magnet board seems like the perfect option!

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  6. Karen Rosenberg says

    Don’t forget to tech them to avoid playing in there when they get braces! (And you, when you get a pacemaker.) Now you can say they each have a magnetic personality …

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