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Magnetic Chalkboard Wall

chalkboard by Luc Besson in Copenhagen Denmark

One of the things I love about my flat, despite in being a small one-bedroom, is that there is a good-size hallway and entrance inside. I love having this space to separate the public living areas with the private bedroom in the back.

It’s very narrow, however, so a lot of things – like furniture – just won’t fit but since it’s the first thing when you come in something has got to be here. Currently there’s just three pieces of artwork hanging and one ginourmous floor to ceiling framed Pottery Barn mirror. It’s kind of generic, not-fun and definitely doesn’t reflect set the tone for coming into my home.

I’ve been wanting to use chalkboard paint on the wall ever since I it done at the amazing Front Hotel in Copenhagen (pictured above) where guests (including myself!) left notes and drawings. And then when I saw another great example but with magnetic primer, I was smitten with the idea.

For one wall in my little entrance (where the arrows are pointing in the photos below), I am thinking of giving it a go. This way I can have an easy art-gallery by using magnets to hang up lots of art instead of expensive frames (no more leveling!) and friends can leave colourful notes and doodles. I think it’s a great art statement, fun and practical without being pretentious! Perfect!

I am a little nervous about a huge black wall feeling over-powering or making the area really dark. I’m also concerned about finding a good magnetic primer or paint as it seems like a lot of them require 6 coats and even then have challenges with magnetizing (Rustoleoms is said to have very poor magnetization even after 6 coats) or primers having a rough texture.

Other concerns include being able to easily paint it white before I move out since I’m a renter and easily cleaning the walls without chalkboard residue sticking, finding a good low VOC chalkboard paint (although I think Benjamin Moore’s Chalkboard Paint can be made low VOC).

Apartment Therapy has a good thread on this where others talk about the same concerns but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of answers in there yet so it’s more Googling for me unless anyone has any ideas, suggestions or feedback (always appreciated!).



  1. January 12, 2009 / 9:04 PM

    Can you paint a big piece of plywood or partical board instead? And then mount that on the wall and trim it out with moulding? That way when/if you move on you can just take it down and the original wall will be underneath.

    Plus you can paint it outdoors where any fumes, low VOC or not, will dissapate a little quicker and at least not make your entire living space smell.

  2. Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    January 12, 2009 / 9:12 PM

    Hi Andrea,

    That’s a great idea but unfortunately won’t work for me as the hall isn’t very wide and I need every inch I can get for the front door to open (as it is, it doesn’t open all the way now). I wish that’d work!

  3. Hannie en RinskjeNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2009 / 3:34 AM

    Friends of us used a couple of layers magnetic paint on one of their kitchen walls. They covered it with the paint, which they used for the rest of their kitchen. The room remained very light. To make nice accents they bought some vintage picture frames and attached them on the magnetic part of the wall. Now all their friends know where they can leave their cards, messages etc. I like their idea very much. The frames probably won’t work for you since you stated that your hallway is very narrow. But having a magnetic white wall of stripe across your wall might work.

  4. Debbie ReisetterNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2009 / 5:35 PM

    I have two options: 1)re: color – there is also the neat green chalkboard paint like the old school days that you can get instead of black. Very pretty with your cream walls. 2). You can also cut some light weight sheet metal to the size you want and then paint over that. Plus you can frame it out with a cool recycled old frame or use light weight moldings to trim it out and attach to the wall. They come in so many unique options.

  5. Debbie ReisetterNo Gravatar
    January 13, 2009 / 5:42 PM

    There is also this recipe from Martha Stewart for custom color mixing:

    Custom Colors How-To
    Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. For small areas, such as a door panel, mix 1 cup at a time.

    1. Pour 1 cup of paint into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout. Mix with a paint stirrer, carefully breaking up clumps.

    2. Apply paint with a roller or a sponge paintbrush to a primed or painted surface. Work in small sections, going over the same spot several times to ensure full, even coverage. Let dry.

    3. Smooth area with 150-grit sandpaper, and wipe off dust.

    4. To condition: Rub the side of a piece of chalk over entire surface. Wipe away residue with a barely damp sponge.

  6. micheleNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 / 10:48 AM

    in the past i have taken a rather large frame, traced the inside edge of it on the wall as a “template”. Painted with the chalk paint inside of the “template” and then hung the frame back up. So even though it is black and dark, the white frame gave it contrast. It might be an idea for you. Just use “sticky tak” to get the frame to stay stationary on the wall so when people write inside of the frame area, the frame won’t be in the way.

    If you are allowed to hang on the wall, you might also think to get a friend with a table saw to cut you out some simple flat wood to give the same effect as the frame and then tack it down around the edge of the painted area. It would be “flatter” than a frame so as not to take up too much of the hallway space.

    Another idea is to do multiple “layers” of squares. I think the magnetic paint can be tinted in colors or painted over? or found in tinted colors? Think abstract painting; go crazy in making triangles, circles and squares in random places on this wall. No one ever said you had to paint the entire wall to have a fun effect :o)

    I love chalk paint and can’t wait to use it again! Good luck!


  7. JenniferNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 / 11:27 AM

    I think dark walls look magnificant-especially in apartments that catch a lot of light. I hope you find that they show a lot of style, with something so simple! There is something so classic about it!

  8. January 14, 2009 / 4:57 PM

    So glad that you’re doing a query on this beautiful subject. I too have wondered…

    Though I am not an expert on the magnetic or chalkboard paint, here are a list of VOC Free paints that I love:

    Yolo Colorhouse (gorgeous colors)

    California Paints, Elements line

    Sherman Williams HARMONY line:

    Milk-based paints and natural pigments

    Can’t wait to see how it turns out!

  9. Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    January 14, 2009 / 6:59 PM

    Thanks for all your ideas, ladies! I think I’m going to go for it and incorporate some of the ideas here.

  10. January 15, 2009 / 7:27 AM

    I’m with Debbie on the sheet metal. As long as it’s thin enough you’ll have enough room for the chalkboard, and it might (?) help with the magnetism, and you can, most importantly, take it down if you decide you don’t like it or when you move.

  11. January 16, 2009 / 12:51 PM

    Here in Holland you can get chalkboard paint and mix it in any colour you like.
    I always learned USA is the Land of Possibilities….there must be colour chalkboard paint to be found 🙂

  12. January 27, 2009 / 4:55 AM

    What about removable vinyl wall decals? I know some companies have brought out large electromagnetic decals that are blackboards which can be written on. The beauty of this is you just peel it off when you leave. You could even contact a vinyl distributor directly and you can buy it by the metre.
    Good Luck. It’s such a fun idea.

  13. Hygge HouseNo Gravatar
    April 6, 2009 / 11:40 AM

    Someone sent me a link to this Etsy shop: Spell it Out Designs which has chalkboard decals for sale. Removable, too. While not a full wall, could be an interesting addition to another room.

  14. CHERYL REILLYNo Gravatar
    May 18, 2009 / 6:36 PM

    need help with making a frame around a chalkboard that i painted on my kitchen wall…..my husband says it looks like a black hole. i need to frame it somehow? to make it look better. i bought the paint and painted a small square on my kitchen wall, so my kids can draw on it. i love this idea but need alittle help with finishing it……

  15. July 22, 2009 / 4:12 PM

    Stumbled across this simply by chance. Wasn’t even aware that such a thing as magnetized paint existed. Very cool indeed.

    Thanks for the post.