Top Tips for Using Magnetic Primer

Create unique and useful effects in your home by magnetizing virtually any surface with a special type of primer.

Magnetic Paint Primer


So many new products for the home come out everyday, it’s hard to keep up with them all. Did you know about magnetic primer? That’s right. It’s a paint primer with tiny iron dust particles mixed in. Apply it to your wall and you’re basically coating on a thin layer of metal—something that magnets will stick to.

Use this stuff on virtually any surface and cover it with any color of regular paint that you like. The possibilities are endless. However, if you’re thinking about using magnetic paint primer, keep these top tips in mind, as the product differs from regular paint in some important ways.

Related: 10 Reasons to Go Crazy for Chalkboard Paint

1. Mix Well. What makes the primer magnetic are the tiny pieces of pulverized iron it contains. If left sitting too long, it can separate, so before leaving your paint supplier or home improvement center, ask the clerk to shake the paint can for you (a wood stirrer won’t do the trick). While you’re at it, open up the can to make sure the primer is properly mixed. Doing so might save you an avoidable return trip to the store.

2. Mask Well. Unlike regular paint products, magnetic paint primer is very thick and very sticky. It spatters easily and doesn’t hang onto the brush the same way that regular paint does; in other words, messes are easy to make. At the same time, if you accidentally get it sompelace you don’t want it, magnetic paint primer is very difficult to wipe up. So use drop cloths and mask everything carefully. Really.

3. Choose Wall Colors Carefully. Conundrum alert! Magnetic paint primer only comes in dark colors (black and gray), but covering it with more than two coats of regular paint significantly degrades its magnetism. You may not be happy with how your primed wall looks under only two coats of a light color. In general, medium to dark colors look much better.

Magnetic Paint Primer - Blackboard


4. More Coats Is Better. One popular manufacturer says that applying three thin coats is better than doing two heavy ones. Eh. I would recommend adding as many coats as you can. Each new coat adds an extra measure of magnetic power.

5. Consider Your Brush Disposable. Boy, is it hard to get your paintbrush clean after using this primer. You might be better off buying a cheap brush that you don’t mind throwing away afterward. While you probably don’t want to wear gloves for the duration of your project, I highly recommend them for cleanup. Otherwise, you’ll have black hands until you can get to some pumice scrub.

6. Use Strong Magnets. Magnetic paint primer works as advertised, but it doesn’t attract magnets as well as, say, a sheet of steel. For best results, use strong magnets that aren’t too heavy. And expect to use more than one magnet to hold anything heavier than a single sheet of paper. A fun peripheral DIY project is to paint or glue things onto the sort of plain magnets you can find easily at the craft store.

All in all, magnetic primer is a great DIY product. It can help you create a wonderful magnetic space to display and organize things on many surfaces. Just keep your expectations reasonable and heed the above advice.