DIY Painting & Finishing

6 Tips for Using Magnetic Paint Primer Successfully

Create unique and useful effects in your home by magnetizing virtually any surface with a special type of primer.
Using Rustoleum Magnetic Paint Primer on the Wall


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

Use this coating on virtually any surface before you apply latex interior paint in the color of your choice, and the possibilities are endless. Doors become memo boards, while walls transform into flexible gallery walls. But pop open a can, and you’ll quickly see that the product differs from regular paint in some important ways. So, before you get started using magnetic paint primer, keep this advice in mind to ensure success.

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1. Mix well.

What makes this paint primer magnetic are the tiny pieces of pulverized iron that it contains. The special primer can and will separate if left sitting too long, so you’ll want to make sure that it’s well-stirred before you start your project and that you paint as soon as possible to avoid settling.

Ask the clerk at the paint supplier or home improvement center to shake the paint can for you before you head home. 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. Or, if you ordered it to be delivered, skip the wood stirrer (mixing by hand probably won’t do the trick) and intsead achieve a good mix using a drill attachment like Edward Tools Paint and Mud Mixer, available on Amazon.

2. Mask well.

Unlike regular paint products, magnetic paint primer is very thick and very sticky. It also 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 someplace you don’t want it, magnetic paint primer is very difficult to wipe up. Avoid an exhaustive cleanup by using drop cloths and masking everything carefully.

Tips for Using Magnetic Paint Primer

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. Of course, painting light colors over dark colors (especially when limited to two coats) is bound to let some of the base layer show through. If you want your magnetic surface to be a white, pastel, or neon shade, start with a gray magnetic primer if you can find it—but you know that you may still not be pleased with the finished results. Medium to dark top colors are the safer bets.

4. The more coats, the better.

One popular manufacturer says that applying three thin coats is better than doing two heavy ones. But don’t stop there: I would recommend adding as many thin coats as you can afford. Each new coat adds an extra measure of magnetic power.

5. Consider your brush disposable.

Did we mention that magnetic paint primer gets messy? Boy, it is 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 smudges on your hands until you can get to some pumice scrub.

How to Get the Best Results with Magnetic Paint Primer

6. Use strong magnets on magnetic paint primer.

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—you’ll find these at a craft store—and 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, which you can find at a craft store.

All in all, magnetic paint primer is a great DIY product. It can help you create a way to display and organize things on just about any surface. Just keep your expectations reasonable and heed the above advice.

Buy magnetic primer products such as Rust-Oleum Magnetic Paint Primer online (view on Amazon) or at your local big-box home improvement store.