Chalkboard paint has become immensely popular in recent years for creating writing surfaces in the home. Its classic dark color and smooth finish emulate old-fashioned slate chalkboards, allowing you to hand letter chalk art or leave messages on any wall. But many who use chalkboard paint wish their walls could be magnetic as well, to hang up photos, kids’ art, memos, and more. Unfortunately, magnetic paint often fails to deliver the strong magnetism required for securely mounting items on walls. After thorough testing, we found an innovative metal material that finally enables outstanding magnetic function when combined with chalkboard paint. Keep reading to learn why magnetic paint disappoints, and how our clever solution provides the perfect magnetic chalkboard wall.
Chalkboard Paint Transforms Walls into Writing Surfaces
Chalkboard paint contains a powdered clay that provides a perfectly matte, dark finish just like true slate chalkboards when applied to drywall or other surfaces. Though black is the iconic color, chalkboard paint is now available in a rainbow of shades from bold primaries to pastels. With proper prep and application, chalkboard paint can turn an entire wall or focal feature into a handy writing area and display space.
Teachers love using chalkboard paint to create dynamic lesson spaces, while home cooks letter menu specials or leave meal reminders on a kitchen chalkboard. Budding artists enjoy doodling colorful chalk drawings which can easily be erased for a fresh start. Chalkboard walls bring back the nostalgia of old-school classrooms in a neat, modern way.
The Disappointment of Magnetic Paint
Magnetic paint aims to replicate the magnetized metal surface of whiteboards and refrigerators on regular drywall. Tiny iron particles mixed into the paint are supposed to align during drying and create a magnetic field. But while this sounds good in theory, magnetic paint rarely lives up to expectations. After applying multiple coats, the magnetism achieved is extremely feeble. Only very lightweight paper items can adhere, making it impractical for hanging photos, art, or other documents. Stronger magnets simply fall right off the wall. Using extra coats of magnetic paint becomes costly and messy for minimal improvement in magnetism. Small rare earth magnets may temporarily stick, but their strong adhesion makes them prone to suddenly popping off, presenting a potential safety issue.
Our Rigorous Test Process
Eager to find a truly magnetic option for chalkboard walls, we embarked on exhaustive testing. We purchased top-rated chalkboard paint in a satiny black, along with two kinds of magnetic paint primers claiming strong magnetism. After properly preparing and priming a section of wall paneling, we applied two coats of chalkboard paint as directed. The deep, smooth finish excellently replicated a classic chalkboard. Next, we eagerly applied three full coats of magnetic paint over the cured chalkboard paint.
Immediately after the final coat dried, we attached various magnets to assess the magnetic function. Unfortunately even tiny fridge magnets slid right down the wall. Slightly stronger magnets managed to stay temporarily attached, but dropped with the slightest tap. Large magnets would not stick at all even when directly placed against the wall. It was clear our magnetic paint attempts had failed to make the chalkboard paint magnetic in any functional way.
Galvanized Steel – A Magnetic Revelation
Stumped but determined, we researched what key factor creates strong magnetism. Magnetism requires a material containing iron, nickel, or cobalt. After learning that all magnetic metals contain iron, the solution became clear. We needed an iron-based metal that could also accept chalkboard paint. After testing several options, 24 gauge cold rolled galvanized steel emerged as the winner.
Benefits of Galvanized Steel Sheets
Galvanized steel is carbon steel coated with a thin layer of zinc. The zinc provides corrosion resistance so the steel can be used outdoors and indoors. The coating also allows paint to adhere to the metal. Best of all, galvanized steel remains highly magnetic, just like refrigerator doors or filing cabinets. It can be cut to size with tin snips, then mounted onto walls before painting. We discovered galvanized steel could provide chalkboard walls with the strong magnetism that magnetic paint lacked.
We cut galvanized sheets to fit a portion of the wall, affixed them securely, then painted over them with the same chalkboard paint. The results were outstanding. The entire steel surface took chalk beautifully while displaying full magnetic strength for effortlessly hanging items. Any magnet clung tightly wherever placed on the wall. Galvanized steel’s magnetic properties remained completely unaffected by the chalkboard paint. Finally, we had created the perfect magnetic chalkboard wall.
Installation Tips for Pro Magnetic Chalkboard Walls
To recreate our successful magnetic chalkboard wall, visit a hardware store to purchase 24 gauge galvanized steel sheets and chalkboard paint. Use an edge guide and tin snips to cut the steel to your desired size. Carefully mount the sheets using construction adhesive and screws placed into wall studs. Apply chalkboard paint according to package directions. Use painters tape to mark the edges for straight lines and neatly blend the steel and wall paint. Add a fun border or creative chalk mural if desired. Then enjoy an amazing chalkboard with full magnetic function!
We do recommend supervising young children and storing small or powerful magnets out of reach. While galvanized steel poses no health risks, small magnets can fall and be accidentally swallowed if they pop off the wall. Always choose age-appropriate magnets for kids.
Blend Chalkboard and Magnetic Surfaces
Galvanized steel sheets also allow you to combine chalkboard and magnetic surfaces creatively. Paint the entire wall with chalkboard paint first. Then affix galvanized steel sheets to just a portion of the wall to provide a defined magnetic area for hanging items within the chalkboard. This blended approach gives the customization options of a two-in-one chalkboard and magnetic wall while keeping costs down. Use galvanized steel sheets on one magnetic portion, with chalkboard paint on surrounding walls.
We hope our journey to a perfectly magnetic chalkboard wall inspires you to test galvanized steel in your own spaces. Chalkboard paint provides endlessly creative writing possibilities, while galvanized steel unlocks secure magnetism for hanging lightweight items. Together they create a customizable, functional work of art. With just a bit of strategic planning, you can finally achieve the chalkboard of your dreams. Let us know if you have any other tricks for building the ultimate magnetic chalkboard wall!