Holton Rower is an artist so inventive that Improvised Life could be devoted soley to his work and improvisations. He designed a wonderful bit of brilliance in his home recently: an iron-clad magnetic wall painted to look like the adjacent walls. It allows Holton and his family to easily display and remove artwork, photographs, notes —anything that can be held up with magnets — as they wish. Perfect in house that serves as an ever-changing gallery of art — the entire family are artists — and interesting things to look at. It would be a wonderful idea to apply to just about any space. Because the steel is painted, it looks like a regular wall and won’t rust, so could be used in a kitchen.

Holton and carpenter Kris Potocki of Krispo Construction shared pictures and the gist of how they created the wall.First Holton tested magnetic paint to see if it would provide a simple solution. The paint had so little holding-power that he scrapped the idea right away. (It’s yet another example of NOT believing everything you read, especially in promotional literature, but testing it out for yourself.)

Holton’s plan: afix two 16 gauge black iron sheets to the existing sheetrock wall using a strong glue. Kris had the sheet metal supplier cut iron sheet the size needed to clad the wall. He afixed it to the wall using Locktite premium PL4000 glue, rigging plywood and 2-x-4s to keep the steel pressed against the wall while the glue set. (The heavy steel rested on board, which was later taken away).

magnetic wall support 2

…Kris checked to make sure the two iron sheets were plumb:

magnetic wall level*

magnetic wall support 3*

Once the iron sheets were solidly on the wall, Kris primed and painted them with the same high-gloss paint used on an adjacent walls…

magnetic wall painted 1*

You would never guess that this pristine wall was magnetic…

magnetic wall painted 2*

Until Holton and his family started to arrange things on the wall using magnets bought online.

magnetic wall w images 4

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider

Sally Schneider
Sally Schneider


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4 replies on “A Magnetic Wall to Display Art, Photos, Anything!

  1. Is this steel or iron? You mention both.

  2. Yikes, good catch. A slip of the tongue. Kris said they used 16 gauge black iron sheets. Thanks!

  3. Did you have to prime it with anything in particular or special? And was regular indoor house paint used for the walls? Thanks!

  4. Sorry to take so long to repond. For sure you’d have to prime the steel. I wasn’t able to find the answer but imagine you could find the answer at a good paint store: I’ve bought primers for metal a number of times. The paint used was high-gloss alkyd enamel interior paint.

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