Steel Magnet Wall

Submitted by Ana White on Mon, 10/18/2010 - 20:01
Difficulty
Intermediate
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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

Preparation

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.

Tools
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Pencil
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Drill
Circular Saw
Level

Instructions

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!

Comments

Voodoo

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?

Celeste Mores (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 03:22

I love this idea! But a hard thing to sell to my husband. Maybe I can do just a small area in the playroom, and put moulding around it? Hmmm......

Tirzha (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 03:22

Just a quick correction: You CAN put magnets on stainless. The stainless you can't put magnets on is "stainless coated" which is when a vinyl or other surface is coated in a stainless look-alike paint.

Matthew (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 03:34

You'd only be able to overlap at the pre-defined intervals, which look to be about every 10-12 inches.

Also, Ana, RAM probably already knows this, but a common alternative to a metal-cutting blade for a circular saw or table saw is to turn the blade backwards. It works pretty well.

liz @ bon temp… (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 04:19

Our stainless fridge is magnetic... wonder why yours wasn't. Hmm.

I do LOVE that wall. It would be perfect in a teen room. It would help out so much in organizing school paperwork. I wonder if anyone makes magnetic file holders.

Chrystal (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 04:35

Lol! Must be an alaskan thing, just did this in the bottom half of my bathroom, but we used the red color! :). love it Ana!!

Leslie (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 04:49

Totally love this idea! I'm setting up my glass/yarn studio in the house and this will be perfect on the wall behind the torch. Of course, I also want this on the wall in my kitchen. In fact, if I could, all my walls would be magnetic! Oh, and I also got stainless appliances and totally miss cluttering the fridge with stuff.

Looks like I'll be heading to the Blue store soon. Thanks for the idea! You rock, of course, once again! Be blessed!

James Reeves (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 05:23

Ana, what an awesome idea just love it will attend for sure.

Jim Ontario, Canada

Hannah (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 05:43

I absolutely love this - we are starting to build a home from shipping containers and part of the inside will be the exposed metal wall, this is a great preview as to what it will look like, I love it. Great idea for a stick built house too, makes a fabulous break up from dry wall. Love your site too, addicted!

Ana White (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 06:47

Hi, roofing tin is designed with a special ridge that overlaps seamlessly exactly at 3 feet. I'm not saying you can't do as you say, but I recommend having the last sheet ripped. An alternative method that I considered but ultimately went for the tin is sheets of metal flashing (cheap and easier to cut with no ridges and in smaller sheets) hung on the walls using 3M command strips.

Bethany (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 08:36

omgosh this is too funny! i work for an architectural company and we have just piles and piles in every color of this stuff - i model it all day long! haha. very cool application :)

Rachel (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 18:18

Wonderful idea! I hope I can copy it one day, far, far away, when we can own a home. Until then, Army housing will have to do:).

tiffany (not verified)

Tue, 10/19/2010 - 23:46

You'd be surprised what you can do in army housing. I had a friend build a climbing wall and bolted the 2x4 studs for it to the wall. I'm all for making the place mine if we are going to be stationed in one place for more than a year.

AmyLynn (not verified)

Wed, 10/20/2010 - 07:49

A month ago I told my husband that I wanted to put metal on the wall going down to the man cave in the basement. He looked at me like I was crazy. He grew up around farming so I was going to do grain bin metal, but the principle is the same. I can't wait to show him this and say "See...Ana did it!"

Farm Marm (not verified)

Wed, 11/10/2010 - 08:38

I saw this a while back in the Country Sampler magazine, then later in the Lowes catalog, and now here! I plan on doing this in my main bathroom. We live on a mini farm and have high humidity here. My walls are constantly getting mold on them,these will be way easier to clean! I think I want it in my kitchen as well....and no one told me about the magnet problem either when we bought our fridge! ;(
I'm thinking backsplash....

Lynn (not verified)

Mon, 12/20/2010 - 20:09

I love this wall - I've been trying to figure out some way to use this because I love it so much and now I can put it in my office!.

To answer a couple of questions:

1. Why magnets don't stick to stainless steel refrigerators? Of course if it's fake stainless that's a possibility but mine is a high grade stainless steel. The better the stainless, the less iron content in it and usually has more nickel. So unless you have super magnets nothing will stick (but the side of my fridge, which is NOT stainless but enameled over metal, holds magnets just fine).

2. Using metal sheeting over electrical outlets: I'm sure Ana sealed her outlet with a plastic or other safe cover but for those of you asking - no you don't want to put metal over the top of the outlet. I wouldn't cut an opening for a live outlet unless I put something that is nonconductive between the metal and the outlet. Most of the time it's a nonissue, but if you have any kind of electrical problems (which most people aren't aware of until there is a problem) then your wall can become electrified as a conductor. Additionally it can cause arcing which would be a fire hazard. You can talk to your local hardware or one of the big boxes and get materials cheaply that will protect the area around the outlet. I plan to keep my outlets live and also cut the metal around them - since my house is old I'm taking extra precautions to keep it safe. I was lucky - I found by accident that the previous owner had removed the water line the house was grounded to and replaced it with PVC, thus removing the grounding benefit. It was easily fixed but could have been deadly if we hadn't uncovered that pipe and fixed it!

Thanks for sharing - I love the creative ideas as much as the actual plans.

Trisha Terry (not verified)

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 11:48

Hi Gwen! Funny finding you on this blog! I love this wall.. trying to find a wall I could put this on!

Leah3137 (not verified)

Sun, 03/27/2011 - 09:48

Did you cover that outlet, or did you cut out a block so that it is still useable? I tried to see if you had a clear picture and it seems that it was just covered. One picture had a chair, and the others had the desk against the wall.

If you cut out the outlet, how were you able to cut teh outlet space into the metal?

livedinhome.com

Mon, 04/04/2011 - 14:30

I finally finished my steel wall in my studio and had enough left over from the rip to add an accent on another wall in the same room. Thanks for the inspiration. I love it. Photos are up on my site. Thanks Ana!

Jessica G (not verified)

Fri, 06/03/2011 - 23:00

Because I actually did this same thing as a Custom shower surround a couple years back. We were working with an older home in anchorage and wanted to work with the existing footprint, which had slanted ceiling. I love the utilitarian feel of it now and my hubby loves the sound of "rain falling on a tin roof" every time we take a shower. ;) great project plan, I've been trying to think of other ways to incoporate some more tin roofing throughout our house!

jonesjl7

Tue, 10/11/2011 - 16:12

I've been searching around the site for the plans to that desk (which I thought I had found some other day), but the link on this page says access is denied, and it seems to have disappeared! What happened to it?

Marissa (not verified)

Wed, 05/23/2012 - 23:17

I love this idea! It would be perfect for my room! I'm a little confused about the whole outlet thing and keeping the metal away from a live outlet. Also could you paint the tin? Would it still work?

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