How to Paint a Radiator

painting a radiator

The importance of a functioning radiator in your home can’t be understatement – it keeps you alive through the harshest of winters. But the design can be unsightly, especially if you prefer bright and modern decor.

More and more people are choosing to paint their radiators. Those who enjoy DIY projects can create a beautiful radiator without needing much background in painting. Of course, there us a right, and a wrong way to paint one.

In this guide, we’ll take you through the entire process of painting a radiator, from start to finish.

What You Need to Paint a Radiator

Before you get started, you’ll need some supplies. Obviously you’ll want to have your radiator painting instructions, along with the radiator itself. Make sure that you’ve cleaned all the grime and dust away from the radiator before you begin painting.

You’ll also need a drop cloth, newspaper, cardboard, fabric, or something else to protect your floor from drips. You should have old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty to paint in. These precautions are similar to those you’d take if you were painting the walls.

You’ll want several sheets of sandpaper in a variety of grit grades. Like with other heavy-duty paint jobs, it’s a good idea to have primer. Primer reduces the number of paint coats you need. Your radiator paint of choice can be tinned or inside a spray can.

Because radiators have a fair number of nooks and crannies, you’ll want to grab a few paintbrushes in different sizes. These will help you coat the surface quickly without missing any of the hard-to-reach detail areas.

Radiator Painted in Just 2 Hours:

By following these steps, you’ll have your radiator painted in just a few hours.

1. Open a window, Make Sure Your Radiator is Cool and Turned Off .

Though it might sound obvious to you, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to forget basic safety steps. Prior to getting started, it’s important to open a window. The fumes from paint can be toxic. Similarly, you must make sure that your radiator is turned off so that you don’t burn yourself or the paint.

Make sure you wait until the radiator is fully cool. Painting on a warm surface will cause the paint to thin and drip, which makes it difficult to adhere. The paint might drip off entirely and require a full new coat. Be sure that your radiator won’t turn on until your paint is dry.

Note that ventilating the room is especially important for people who use spray paint.

2. Clear a Working Space Around the Radiator.

Do a thorough vacuuming around the radiator. If you can, use a hose or brush to remove dust and dirt in hard-to-reach places. Move your furniture so that you have easy access. Keep your pets out of the room, and remove anything that might get stuck in the paint.

Painting is a messy process. You can expect there to be drips and splashes. Make sure that you put your drop cloth or cardboard down in a way that protects as much of your floor and walls as possible.

3. Clean the Whole Radiator Surface.

You might be shocked by the sheer amount of grime that builds up on the radiator over the years. Even if you frequently dust and wipe it down, there may be dirt that you haven’t yet disposed of. Built-up dirt and grease will ruin the paint job, so it’s vital that you clean the radiator before you get started.

Mix warm water with some mild hand soap or detergent. Soak a sponge or cloth in the mixture and wring it out. Then wipe the radiator surface with the damp fabric, taking care not to neglect the corners and crevices. If your radiator is very dirty, you might need to do a deeper clean.

After you’ve cleaned the surface, dry it off with a dry towel. Now it’s time to sand the surface.

4. Use Your Sandpaper.

Sanding your radiator serves an important purpose: it makes the surface slightly rougher, so the paint can adhere more easily. You’re less likely to need multiple coats if you do a good job with your sanding tools.

It helps to have sandpaper with multiple grits. By combining high and low grit sandpaper, you can remove any debris that remains on the surface. If you find any areas that are unusually rough, be firm about abrading them. They may be a sign of stuck-on grime.

By making sure that you do this correctly, your radiator surface will be even and easy to paint on. You’ll have a much smoother coat when you get to work.

After finishing the sanding project, dust the radiator one more time. You can use your vacuum to remove extra dust. If there’s a lot of debris, wipe the radiator down again.

5. Prime the radiator.

Your primer is important for more than just the paint. When you work with a radiator, it’s important to invest in a primer specifically compatible with radiators. These paints are able to adhere to metal and heat up without releasing toxic fumes, and stops paint from flaking and cracking over time. In addition, the primer provides protection for any rusty places on the radiator.

Anti-corrosive primer is a good idea for those whose radiators are rusting. The primer will prevent the rust from spreading and worsening.

Primer can be applied with a standard paintbrush. For those who have a lot of nooks and crannies, an angled brush will do the trick. If you use spray paint for this, be certain that you don’t hold the nozzle too close, as this can make the coat too thick.

You do not need to apply any primer if you’re using Hammerite and painting directly onto metal.

6. Use your paint.

Wait until the primer has dried. Wipe the radiator down once more, and then start using your paint.

Use your brush to apply the coat of paint in long, even strokes over the surface of the radiator. Be careful that you don’t load your brush with too much paint.

The best results will come if you do the edges and crevices first, and then move to the larger surface. Make sure that each section joins together for a smooth finish.