How to Paint a Radiator

Painting a radiator can be a challenge, but with the right tools, tips, and techniques, you can achieve professional results. In many older homes radiators provide warmth, comfort, and a certain style and charm. Often it has been years since the radiators have been painted, so it’s a great thing to consider if you are looking to spruce up a room.

Since radiators are made of metal, preparation of the surface is key to achieving a professional finish and look. Paint will not stick to rusty metal. It is important to get the radiator clean and ready to accept the new finish. If you notice a lot of corrosion you will need to identify the source of it and correct it before painting. Painting over corrosion is not really a solution, and will only cause problems in the long run. Additionally you will need to remove any old loose or chipping paint before you begin to paint the radiator. Use caution when removing paint off of old radiators as paint used years ago often contained lead as a pigment. If you are not comfortable removing old paint you should consult and environmental remediation firm, which can help you, clean up old lead paint properly.

After you have cleaned off the old finish and corrosion from the radiator, you should allow the radiator and hot water pipes to cool completely before attempting to apply a paint finish. You should begin by applying a coat of metal primer paint to the radiator. The metal priming paint will give the finish coat of paint a good base to adhere to. Also some primer will prevent corrosion, and will help to extend the life of the radiator.

One of the most challenging aspects of painting a radiator is how to get behind the radiator to paint it. The best option is to remove the radiator and swing it out from the wall. Of course for any number of reasons this is not always practical. Luckily you can purchase a special radiator paintbrush. This brush will be equipped with a long and slim handle and an angled head, which is designed to help you get into all the crevices of the radiator.

After your primer coat dries, you can begin to apply your actual paint coat. Remember when you are painting a radiator that you do not want to paint over any fittings, values, or control mechanisms on the radiator. Doing so can cause them to clog or fail to work when you need them. Another important thing to keep in mind as you paint is that you should focus on areas which will be visible. Make sure the visible areas received the most detailed paint job. While it is important to paint the whole unit, it is ok to do your best, even if its not perfect, on some of the less visible areas. Depending on the type of paint that you have selected it may take several coats to completely cover the radiator. If you are used to painting wood or drywall, you will find that painting metal can be a little more challenging since metal doesn’t absorb paint the way wood or drywall does.

After you are finished painting, allow the paint to thoroughly dry before turning on the heat to the radiator.

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