Is there an award for most uses of the word magnet in an ask?
June 16, 2021 9:45 AM   Subscribe

I need to demagnetize a section of my aluminum door and frame. Does a product exist to help with this?

I'm sure demagnetize isn't the correct term. Here's what I'm trying to accomplish: I have an aluminum door and frame on the exterior of our detached garage, which serves as my home office. I've attached one of those magnetic screen curtains to keep the bugs at bay (similar item.). It works well enough, but due to the magnets that hold the curtain flaps closed, the flaps frequently stick to either the door frame or the door itself. This forces me to carefully reposition it after I go through the door, otherwise risking insect intrusion.

So, I'm looking for a product (or a DIY solution) to cover the portions of the door and frame, causing them to no longer be outwardly magnetic. My ideal solution would be something that is magnetic on one side, allowing it to attach to the door via the magnetism, and then shielded on the other. If this isn't possible, I'd at least prefer to avoid adhesives or otherwise permanent solutions. The door is recently painted, and we may need to sell in the near term.

If you know of such a product, links are appreciated. I've tried googling, but there's some namespace pollution with the word "magnet," so...
posted by bluloo to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
If magnets are sticking to it, it ain’t aluminum.

If you’re really lucky, the magnets are all oriented the same way. Then you could stick on some magnets on your door that are oriented to repel the ones that are giving you trouble.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:51 AM on June 16, 2021 [8 favorites]

So, magnets work through MOST things, you can't really block magnets with like, a coat of paint or something. But what works against magnets is distance. You could test how close the magnets need to be to the surface. Then, anything that stops them from getting that close could be used. Like, bubble wrap could work. Or wood. Whatever is in your budget /aesthetics.

Another option is, if they aren't too hard to unstick from the doorframe, thing about adding a weight to the bottom, heavy enough to overcome them sticking where they shouldn't. That could maybe solve it!
posted by bbqturtle at 9:55 AM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yes, a tool to demagnetize exists, it's called a Degausser. Typically used to wipe magnetic tapes; many resemble an oven. However, any thick-enough coil connected to AC will do the trick (waving one like that around the screen of a CRT used to be part of the final assembly of a TV). The 60-cycle polarity flipping neutralizes magnetized steel; may not affect an actual magnet.
posted by Rash at 9:58 AM on June 16, 2021

A bit of science here.

If you put a layer of iron or steel between the magnetic and the thing you dont want it to cling to, you should be ok. Of course you want attached to the magnet, not to the metal doot.
posted by SemiSalt at 10:02 AM on June 16, 2021

Maybe this is too low tech or I'm not understanding the setup here, but could you get a small magnet like the one in the back of a refrigerator magnet and glue a piece of plastic to it covering the area you want demagnetized and stick it there? Or just line up a bunch of plastic refrigerator magnets on the door frame?
posted by Fuego at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2021

Best answer: It looks like a bunch of these answers aren't clicking the link, because you can't add a layer of steel to your magnetic curtain flaps, and adding it to the door frame won't help.

Like folks say distance is the a good antidote for magnetic attraction, so cladding the door frame in something non-magnetic would work great. Probably 1/8" of wood or something would do the trick. You can attach it to the door with magnetic tape. Paint it or put some wood stain on it and it will look good! I'm assuming the door frame is not ACTUALLY aluminum because otherwise magnets wouldn't stick (it's possible the door frame IS aluminum and the magnets only stick where there's ferrous screws or something - doesn't really change the equation though)
posted by aubilenon at 10:10 AM on June 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Some options:

1) get a couple of strong magnets to stick to the top and bottom of the strip you want to block, and then hang the blocking material of your choice between them - I'd use cardboard or foamcore, foam weatherstripping, toilet paper/paper towel tubes, something like that. You can put a little "tab" of masking tape at the ends of your blocking material that your strong magnet will stick through.

2) since the center closure of the curtain really only sticks together along the crease, you could cover the front/backs of those magnets with adhesive foam weatherstripping so they are significantly less likely to stick to the outer frame. There's probably only a couple of sections of magnet that are the culprit here, so you'd only need to cover those parts.

3) weight the bottom of the curtain so it's not swinging so wide.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:34 AM on June 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I have the same issue and taped corrugated cardboard to the part of the door it sticks to. You could glue magnets to the cardboard instead.
posted by metasarah at 10:54 AM on June 16, 2021

Response by poster: Follow up for anyone with the same issue: I experimented with a few of the suggested solutions today, at which time I located some sheets of magnets with adhesive that I had previously purchased for a craft project (turning die-cut stickers into reusable magnets, for those interested). These sheets turned out to be thick enough that the curtains will temporarily attach to the door, then release without intervention. Works well enough for my needs!
posted by bluloo at 2:06 PM on June 17, 2021

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