Steel Magnet Wall

Submitted by Ana White on Mon, 10/18/2010 - 20:01
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A magnetic steel wall is both indestructable and cool looking! Super functional in an office or children's space. Also makes small rooms appear larger because of the light reflection.

So we got a stainless steel fridge when we built the new house.

I was okay with a white one.

But the Ram wanted stainless.  In fact, that's about all he wanted in the house.  A wood ceiling and stainless appliances.  So we got a stainless fridge.

No one told me you can't clutter a stainless fridge with magnets.  Not just because it's not cool, but because magnets don't stick to stainless.

Only when you don't have a magnetic surface do you miss it.  Save the dates, Christmas cards, shopping lists - where do they go?  In our home, they went in a pile, never to be found or looked at again.  Until now.

Because roofing is way cooler than a fridge.

You all are just too smart.  Yesterday, when I posted my desk plans, you said, that's cool Ana, but we want that wall!    And trust me, you want this wall.  Not only is it functional, but it adds depth and shine to an otherwise blah and least desirable bedroom of the house AKA my office.

Matched with Valspar Silver Leaf in flat, and the entire room just comes alive!  Also check out this shot, see how the metal trims out nicely on the edges?  A few snips with tin snips, and baseboards are no issue.

Here is how we put together a steel wall that is both magnetic and cool looking for under $100 in about 2 hours.  Yes, that is correct.  I can't spell, but that is not a typo.  $100 and 2 hours.  Yes, two hours.  It's taken me longer to hang curtains.  Or get a gallery wall just right.

Fit to your wall


Shopping List

1 sheet of 8′ galvanized steel roofing for every 3′ of horizontal wall space that you want to cover
3 – 1×2 furring strips (I can’t post a post without 1x2s!) for every 8′ of horizontal wall space you will cover
3/4″ lath screws or roofing screws
2″ wood screws
tin snips
metal circular saw blade (if you need to cut the sheets)

Common Materials
2 1/2 inch screws
Cut List

Cut to fit your wall as instructed in the directions.

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw


Step 1

Measure your wall

My wall is 8′ tall and 103″ wide. So I can use a full sheet of 8′ tin, but need to rip the last piece because each piece of tin is 3 feet wide. If your wall is less than 96″ tall, you will need to trim all the sheets of tin carefully with the metal saw blade. Be very careful, clamp, wear hearing and eye protection, don’t attempt if you have not cut metal before. It’s different than plywood. It has ridges and sparks. You may be able to have the company that you purchase the tin from cut your metal. My tin came from Blue and was $24 a sheet.

Step 2

Furring Strips

You need something horizontal to screw the tin to. So I screwed furring strips to the studs in the wall. Space the furring strips so that the centers are 32″ apart. Then carefully measure, double check, and write down the location of the furring strips from the ceiling downward. Transfer this measurement to your tin and predrill holes in your tin to line up with the furring strips (TIP: You can drill through multiple layers of tin at the same time). Take note of how my screws are in a pattern.

If your baseboard is not 3/4″ thick, add a furring strip to the bottom (slightly above the baseboard) as well. Take note of the bottom furring strip when you predrill your metal.

Step 3

Roof it

If you did the first two steps correctly, this is the easy part. Screw the metal to the furring strips through the predrilled holes. Make sure your tin is square with the room. Use tin snips to cut around any baseboards.

Step 4

More Tin

Continue screwing tin to the furring strips. When you get to the last sheet, you may need to rip it to fit. Use the metal saw blade and a circular saw. Snip around any baseboards. And yes, that is my beloved angle chair

The great thing about this project is there is no finish required. It’s done. Get your magnets out!

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Wed, 06/01/2011 - 10:01

If you open up a disk drive you will find very powerful rare earth magnets that are part of the voice coil actuator that moves the arm for the head. Associated with the permanent magnets is a magnetic coil with a varying magnetic field that is used to move the arm back an forth. If you take out the rare earth magnets and stick them to your refrigerator, they are so strong that you almost need a screwdriver to pry them off. You also have magnets and magnetic coils in the motor that spins the platters. All of these magnets are positioned within a quarter inch of the disks yet do no harm.the heads on a drive fly only 0.5 micro inches above the platter. Compare this to 2000 micro inches for the diameter of a human hair. This small distance is required to generate the field strength to read and write the disk.

The old 'don't put magnets near computers' thing was only because floppy discs are easily scrambled by magnets. Not hard drives.

Gwenevere (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 00:02

I spent $100.00 on magnetic paint in the playroom that is so weak my kids can't hang anything on it unless they have Rare Earth Magnets, which are a hazard for kids because their attraction is so strong that when the magnets come together, it has often pinched their little fingers or when they try to pull them apart, they can't because they are stuck. This appears to be a nice alternative.

Fran (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 00:09

I noticed you covered over your molding and your outlet. Is it not possible to trim around the outlet?

Tsu Dho Nimh (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 00:38

"I need to rip the last piece because each piece of tin is 3 feet wide"

Can you just overlap the sheets at the ridges to get the width you want?

The last time I tried cutting metal, I set my bark mulch on fire!


Tsu Dho Nimh (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 00:45

Jessica: It's safe to use magnets on the wall behind the computer. I even have a magnetic container (like those round things on Ana's wall) stuck on the computer case, and a couple of magnet business cards.

Unless you have the hard drive out of the computer and right next to a really strong magnet - way stronger than anything you would ever have around the house - you aren't going to damage it. A hard drive is in a metal case, maybe 2 inches away from the extra strong magnets in any other hard drive you have in the computer.

An old-style floppy (the 5-inch ones that were flexible) could be damaged if you left a magnet on the floppy. The hard-case diskettes were a bit harder to damage ... but it was possible.

Erika (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 02:08

After looking at your desk post I just thought your office was in some kind of cool steel Alaskan shed, ha! No sharp edges?