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Magnetic wallpaper - understanding its function and exploring use cases

Testing magnetic wallpaper

For the first time, we encountered magnetic wallpaper - also known as magnetic felt - in the summer of 2016, when a customer contacted us after being advised about the fantastic properties of magnetic wallpaper. It was purported to be very magnetic...

When we initially advised the customer, we were under the impression that it was a wall painted with magnetic paint, so we suggested some magnets with a carrying capacity of 1.5 kg, which normally can hold many pieces of paper on a wall saturated with magnetic paint. So the surprise was great when he sent a complaint about the magnets, writing that they could hardly keep themselves up on the board.

Advice on magnetic paint with board lacquer

We emailed back and forth with him, and we sent him this response:

"Something tells me that something went wrong with the painting of the magnetic chalkboard - if you painted it yourself: how many layers have you painted? And was it good quality paint?

Unfortunately, there's a huge difference in the quality of magnetic paint - the quality of the magnetic chips in the mix. And many get very poor (or no) advice when buying magnetic paint, so they often end up with only 1 or 2 layers... but at least 3 layers are needed (5 layers if it's discount paint), for the board to be used properly. Then you can also use completely standard magnets afterward on the board.

I would really like to sell you a lot of expensive magnets, but something tells me you should consider investing in some more magnetic board lacquer instead... It gives a much better (and cheaper) result."

It was not magnetic paint but wallpaper!

Afterward, he told us that the magnetic chalkboard was made of wallpaper... magnetic wallpaper and chalkboard in one product... We got a link to the product (no need to expose the supplier of the magnetic wallpaper, so we'll refrain from that!), and we delved a bit deeper into the product.

It turns out that some magnets are sold with a strength of about 4 kg - the kind used for magnetic glass boards. And that it can therefore be concluded that our customer received very poor advice when he was told that it would be a very magnetic board when he used magnetic wallpaper - "better than magnetic paint".

Is magnetic wallpaper a bad product?

Well, the supplier only promises on the website that you can hang paper and fabric on the board (with the 4 kg magnets)... And that it's super smart wallpaper with a magnetic effect.

What's criticizable is the advice he received from the company that sells magnetic wallpaper.

The fact is, if the magnetic wallpaper was to be as magnetic as the customer expected, it would be nearly impossible to set up because the saturation of the wallpaper with magnetic chips would require so much processing (painting) of the wallpaper, that it would become really heavy and difficult to install (and have a thickness of something like 3-4 mm).

Of course, there is also the possibility that we are completely wrong in our calculations (!), but it's hard to argue that it's a strongly magnetic board when the magnetic wallpaper cannot hold up a magnet with a carrying capacity of 1.5 kg. Even a magnetic board painted with magnetic paint with 1 layer, where otherwise at least 3 layers are required, will be able to carry a magnet with a carrying capacity of 1.5 kg...

Our last reply to the customer was therefore as follows:

"Thanks for the link!

I've just closely studied it. They don't write the sizes of the magnets, so I've found the size ratio in relation to the things that are hung up, and it looks like 10x10 mm neodymium magnets - if they are of good quality, they can carry almost 4 kg (otherwise a bit less). And the text states that you can hang up paper or fabric, i.e., small light things. So it's really poor quality - just as difficult to use in daily life as a glass board. And bad advice from their side.

Spend a few days thinking about what the purpose of the board should be. Because you will experience that the magnets, due to the weak magnetism in the wallpaper, will be attracted to each other and clump together if placed too close.

I would consider painting over the wallpaper with magnetic paint/board lacquer + contact those who advised you, and ask for a refund for the product. That's what I would give if I had sold such a product as "a strong magnetic board".

A fun way to test the strength of the magnets: first check the strength (just by using them) on the magnetic wallpaper. Then test it on the refrigerator, the radiator, or another magnetic surface... and feel the difference."

What's Next?

The customer will stop by in a couple of days, and then we will find a solution together here at the office, where he can test different magnets and learn a bit more about magnetic paint.

And it's hard not to cringe at how little pride people have in their work because it's really hard to explain away SUCH poor advice about a product.

Above, you can finde magnets between 5-8 kg. This is the strength we tested with the best results. And afterwards, the same customer returned to us and bought magnetic paint for his wall to make it more magnetic.