How to Create a Magnetic Gallery Wall

When you collect Disney art, your biggest problem is finding enough space to display it. Our last apartment was lousy with gallery walls, and we still didn’t have space to display even half of my collection of Disneyland concept art.

One of the solutions we came up with was a magnetic gallery wall in the hall that let us hang a ton of art at will, with no need for expensive framing and no pressure about what we chose or where to make holes for hangers. Granted, my crazy-go-nuts collage of waaaaaay too many wedding photos dominated the wall for a good three years, but we could have swapped out the art if we wanted to (and eventually we did)!

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We wasted no time creating a new magnetic gallery wall in our current apartment. When the Roots visited us, it looked like this…

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You can see the line where the magnetic paint stops because it is so thick and textured.

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Over Christmas and New Year’s it looked like this…

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Today it looks like this…

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(More info on Ty Mattson’s reimagined Star Wars movie posters here!)

How to Create a Magnetic Gallery Wall

It’s not complicated, it just takes a lot of elbow grease!

Materials

  • Enough magnetic paint to coat your space 6 times
  • Paint that matches whatever color the rest of the wall is
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint roller, two roller covers + tray
  • Rare-earth magnets

We have used Magically Magnetic Paint Additive, which you mix into any kind of primer, and Kling Magnetic Paint, which is pre-mixed. I haven’t noticed any functional difference between the two. However, Kling is dark gray. If your desired wall color is light, you may need to top it with several coats of regular paint, which diminishes its magnetism.

The trick is to apply a LOT of coats—at least six. People who say magnetic walls don’t work haven’t applied enough paint!  The paint or additive you buy should list how many square feet it covers, so you can divide it by six to see whether it’s enough for your space.

Look for super-strong rare-earth magnets, not regular kitchen magnets. Originally we got the flat button-style magnets, but they are so hard to grab—and forget trying to pry them apart once they find each other! Now we use 1/4″ x 1/2″ magnets that are like little pegs you can grab easily. Be sure to get diametrically magnetized ones so that they grab the art from the ends, not the sides.

Directions

  1. Use painter’s tape to outline the area you want magnetized. We always go edge to edge on our hall walls, but no lower or higher than you’d want to hang art. Apartment Therapy has a good tutorial on the optimal height for art.
  2. Roll on multiple coats of magnetic paint, waiting for each to dry before adding the next.
  3. When the magnetic paint is completely dry, go over it with the same color that’s on the rest of the wall.
  4. Grab your art and your rare-earth magnets and go to town! Just know that the magnets may leave pencil-like marks on the edges of the art if you drag them across it too much. We also find that the art begins to bow away from the wall after a while, so we have to smooth out the art and reposition the magnets. I like to wear cotton gloves when touching the art, like framers do, to protect it from dirt and oils.

If you decide to try a magnetic gallery wall, let me know how it goes!

 

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4 Responses
  • Belle
    June 7, 2018

    This is the first time I have heard of magnetic wall paint. I’m blown away. This is such a clever idea! It would be awesome for displaying children’s art, among other things. At the moment all my daughter’s creations are on our fridge, but I’d love to dedicate a magnetic wall to her instead.

    • Carrie
      June 7, 2018

      That is a great idea! It is a little too casual for fine art, it’s true. But for kids it can be their very own art gallery!

  • Kathi
    February 25, 2016

    Finally got around to read your post! I always wondered what the trick behind your magnetized wall is – I’ll definitely look into this, at least after we get our wedding pictures! DF cringes every time I make him punch another nail in the wall, so this is a good option! Thank you!

    • Carrie
      February 25, 2016

      Me too! The walls of our last place were like Swiss cheese when we moved out, so we’re trying to confine most of our collection to the magnetic wall this time. 🙂

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