Using Magnetic Paint To Make A New Home For Our 3D Wallflowers

I never pictured myself painting a wall in our house black, let alone doing it at 5am. But that’s what I found myself doing two weeks ago. Allow me to explain.

When our postcard wall moved into place last week, it meant our much loved wallflowers above the desk had to be relocated…

… well, some stayed in place when we decided we liked leaning a few on the shelves of our postcard wall– but the rest needed a new home.

Well, they didn’t go far. We decided to move them just one wall over to the small space under the office/guest room/playroom’s one and only big window.

Why? That’s probably best explained by answering the “how” first. Instead of relying on the special nails that came with our magnetic wallflower kit- which firmly affix the arrangement in one spot thanks to the magnet-backed flowers which stick to the magnetized nail heads- we decided to try something new: magnetic paint (note: some of the new wallflower kits snap instead of being magnetized). We thought magnetic paint would be just the thing for this project since we’d been dying to try it for years and were just waiting for the right project. We often wondered if the rumors were true- did it really work? We were about to find out.

See, by creating a large magnetic canvas we could design a spot where the wallflowers could be displayed, but instead of being limited to the fixed spots where we placed the magnetic pins in the wall, this time the wallflowers (along with any other magnets) could easily be moved around into an infinite number of fun formations, adding a nice element of “play” to our office/guest room/playroom- especially once Clara becomes mobile enough to move them around. And they’re definitely at a kid-friendly height!

Luckily the magnetic paint rumors were true. Well, mostly – it’s actually magnetic primer. We found this $21 quart of Rust-oleum Magnetic Latex Primer at Home Depot (next to things like chalkboard paint, dry erase paint, and glow-in-the-dark paint). Update: Here’s an affiliate link to it over on Amazon if you can’t find it in stores. 

Oh and before heading home we noticed the instructions actually suggested having it shaken by the store’s paint department to help keep the iron particles from settling on the bottom – so don’t forget to shake yours like crazy! The instructions also suggested two or three thin coats to achieve the best results as opposed to one or two thick and gloppy ones. Good to know.

Well… we did seven.

And we made sure they were all extremely thin so there wasn’t any bump or delineation where the magnetic paint started or ended. Maybe four extra applications were overkill, but we were determined to make this stuff work. Plus I realized only after coat number two or three that I was supposed to be vigorously stirring between each application. Oops. But since the coats dried really fast it only took me an evening, a morning, and one random 5am painting session to apply all seven (Clara had woken us up for a surprise feeding- she usually sleeps from around 10pm to 9am!- so I figured I’d be productive while Sherry sleepily nursed her). And ultimately… drumroll please… it worked. Woo hoo!

Well, it mostly worked. After each coat I tested variously sized wallflowers to see if they would stay up. The smallest sizes stuck almost immediately but despite my persistence I never could get the larger ones to stay in one spot (they’d just slide down the wall, hit the baseboard, and fall off). So we’d say that magnetic primer works, but not with anything terribly heavy. Now you know why some ended up on the postcard shelves. Oh well – happy accident.

But in the good news category, despite the fact that we had just painted a huge black spot on our wall – it barely took two coats to cover it up completely with the original wall color (Glidden’s Sand White). Phew. Heart attack averted. And it didn’t seem to lose any of the magnetic attraction when covered with other non-magnetic paint. It’s also 100% non-toxic and kid-safe when dry (obviously it’s not safe for a kid to drink it in liquid form). We did keep Clara out of the room with the windows open and a fan on for the full drying period (and about three days after that since we happened to be out of town for the weekend anyway) just to be safe.

Even though we couldn’t get all of the wallflowers to stick, we’re actually really happy with how it turned out. And we can’t wait to find some other fun magnets to put up there so Clara can play with them when she’s a bit older. Speaking of which – does anyone know where we could find an all-white set of those alphabet magnets? We googled around for a while with no luck- and we think they would be a fun and educational addition to the little slices of “playroom” that we’re trying to squeeze into this small space for our favorite little girl.

Has anyone else tried magnetic primer? Or any of those other wacky chalkboard/dry erase/glow-in-the-dark paints? We’d love to know what you guys thought about using those newfangled products. Did they work? Were they messy or hard to apply? Spill the beans.

Psst- Wanna follow the entire office/guest bedroom/playroom makeover? Click here for the intro post, here to read about the big sleeper sofa hunt, here for the DIY desk play-by-play, here for the homemade light fixture project, here for our hacked Ikea bookcase, here for the file storage we built, here for how we squeezed in some toy storage, here for how we picked out some DIY art that we could agree on, here for how we wrangled our wires, and here for the play-by-play of creating our postcard art wall.


  1. says

    Love this idea!

    However…all-white alphabet letters?! I’d just go with the primary colors. They’re much more stimulating for children.

    • says

      Hey Cate,

      Thanks for the tip! We’ve actually thought about that but we plan to teach her colors in another way by bringing in flash cards and colorful childrens blocks. Stay tuned for those details sometime soon!


  2. Jordan says

    What a great, fun addition!! I was thinking maybe you two could DIY some white, alphabet magnets. Maybe even different fonts and sizes would be a neat look. Craft stores have all different fonts and letters. White spray paint and magnets would be so fun!! Just an idea….

  3. says

    Looks great guys! That room is looking awesome! I can’t wait for the big reveal. I just recently got some wallflowers for my craft area and office nook in the basement and was trying really hard to figure out why they weren’t magnetic! I kept telling my fiance (who was thinking I had lost it) John and Sherry’s are magnetic! :)

  4. says

    That looks good!!

    Couldnt you buy coloured magnets then spray them white with kid safe paint? Just a thought if you cant get hold of them easy enough, (i googled, and also didnt find anything)

    Also there is a postcard on its way from us here…

  5. C says

    How about using those craft foam sheets in white and cutting out the letters of the alphabet with a craft knife and sticking magnetic paper or tape to the back?

  6. Rachel says

    That turned out so well! I love it! You guys have some of the cutest ideas. I’m sure Clara will love playing there too.

    I have never tried any of these funky paints, but I would love to do chalkboard paint one day in a kitchen or office and frame it out with painted white wood trim.

    • says

      Thanks for all the DIY-ideas for white magnetic letters! We figured we could make something ourselves if we couldn’t find ’em, we’d just have to be sure to use kid-safe things (no toxic spray paint, etc). We do love a challenge though!


  7. primpeony says

    I thought zombies had taken over your bodies when I saw that black wall. How were you going to make that work? Of course you guys are way smarter than me. Paint over it of course. Thank God. Order is restored.

  8. Christina Marie says

    It’s so funny that you just highlighted these paints! I have the same magnetic primer as well as chalkboard paint sitting on my kitchen table just waiting to be used!

    I wish I’d known about having them mix it for you… I guess I should read the package next time!!

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