How to Make a DIY Magnetic Board

Chalkboard magnetic board above a desk.

Katarzyna Bialasiewicz / Getty Images

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs, 30 mins - 1 day, 30 mins
  • Yield: 1 magnetic board
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $65

If you're looking for a fun little afternoon project with a super-usable final product, you'll love making this DIY magnetic board. It's easy to make, it only requires a couple of supplies (some of which you may already have at home), and at the end you'll have a beautiful board to use in your kitchen, pantry, or home office. Use this magnetic board to keep a running shopping list, as part of your family command center, or to display your favorite photos and greeting cards ... the possibilities are endless.

As you'll see in this tutorial, we put a twist on the classic magnetic board and gave it a chalkboard finish, which doubles its function by turning it into a DIY chalkboard wall, too, and gives it a cool look. Read on to learn how to make a magnetic board.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 sheet fine sandpaper
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Dust mask

Materials

  • 1 picture frame
  • 1 sheet of galvanized steel
  • 1 can of black primer spray paint
  • 1 can of chalkboard spray paint
  • Magnets
  • Chalk

Instructions

  1. Gather Your Supplies

    First, prepare your picture frame. Make sure that it's clean, then take out the glass, mat, and backing. Next, get your piece of metal. Galvanized steel is magnetic and comes in multiple sizes, and you can either order a sheet of it online or purchase it at a hardware store. Make sure the size fits in your picture frame the same way a photo or print would.

  2. Prep the Metal

    Now it's time to start prepping the galvanized steel. Using a small piece of fine sandpaper, gently rough up the surface of the metal. You're not looking to fully sand it down: A quick, light sanding is plenty for a project like this. Next, using a clean microfiber cloth, wipe down the metal surface to make sure it's clean and completely dust-free before you begin to paint.

  3. Start Priming

    Set up your spray painting station in a well-ventilated area and use a drop cloth or tarp under the sheet of metal to catch any excess paint. First, spray an even layer of black primer paint all over the metal (a can of flat finish black primer spray paint is a good choice).

    Let it dry, which usually takes about 30 minutes. If you feel like the metal needs some additional coverage, spray a second layer of primer on and let it dry completely.

    Warning

    When you're working with spray paint, make sure you are in a well-ventilated area, preferably outside. Wear a protective mask to protect yourself from inhaling any dangerous fumes from the spray paint.

  4. Spray Chalkboard Paint On

    Once the primer has dried, it's time for the chalkboard paint. You can definitely use regular chalkboard paint and a roller or a brush, but chalkboard spray paint tends to stick better (less chance of it peeling!) and is much easier to use.

    Spray an even layer of it onto the primed metal, making sure every part is coated. Let it dry (it should be tack-free after about 30 minutes), then spray a second coat that will ensure full coverage. The sprayed sheet should be fully dry and ready to be handled after an hour, but check to make sure that that is the case before moving the sheet.

  5. Prepare Frame and Surface

    Once the sprayed metal is ready, place it inside the picture frame and secure it with the frame backing as you would any other photo or print. If you're going to be using chalk on the magnetic board, make sure to prep the surface first by rubbing the entire surface of the board with the side of a chalk and then erasing it (let the chalkboard paint dry for 24 hours first if you're going to do this).

    Tip

    To prep your finished DIY magnetic board for chalk, rub the entire surface of it with the side of a chalk, coating the whole thing evenly. This is called seasoning the chalkboard, and it serves the same purpose as priming does when it comes to paint. It ensures that chalk writing goes on smoothly and that there isn't a faint trace left of the original writing or image you put on it.

    If you're only going to use the board for magnets, you can skip this step. Then, grab a couple cute magnets, hang the board on the wall, and you're all set!

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. "Chapter 12 - Painting Operations Safety Rules." Health and Safety Training Manual: Section 2 - General Safety Rules, Oregon State University College of Agricultural Sciences.