We use black-matte 4x8’ sheets of 1/2" thick Gatorfoam blackcore with clear pushpins. I like the black matte–any “cool” material would distract. I also like how “raw” looking they are–it adds an aura of “work in progress.” If you were to cover them in a high-touch material, you’d loose that and might start editing what you pin up.
I much prefer this to a dedicated wall (unless you have the luxury of a dedicated project room.) They look cool, and you never run out of space. Plus they’re storable as-is, and can be brought into presentations. I should mention that we’re fortunate to have 9’ tall doors.
We carry them around (short distances) but it would be pretty cool to add straight weels to the bottoms (like a bookshelf ladder.)
Here’s a pic that shows 3 of them portrait, and one landscape (that’s been wallpapered white.)
The paint itself isn’t magnetic - it’s just got iron filings in it to give the magnets something to clamp to. And it shouldn’t give off any kind of magnetic field (any engineers want to correct me?), if you keep a stack of heavy duty magnets under your pillow at night, that might be another story.
Funny you mention the vacuum wall. The main classroom in the ID quad at our school has these two INCREDIBLY loud exhaust vents. They’re so obnoxious we normally just stick paper over them so it sucks them shut. When they started talking about renovations I said we should reroute the ducts behind the walls and do the same things - just drill an entire wall of holes and never have to worry about push pins again.