Can You Paint Radiators?

Lockdown has seen all of us appreciate both our indoor and outdoor spaces more. With this newfound time in our homes, it also gives us the chance to spring clean, jazz things up a little and redecorate. After all: if you can’t get things looking the way you’d like when you’re in all the time, when can you?

However, standing perhaps ‘in the way’ of radical redecoration are radiators – as they tend to sit, unchanged, no matter what the rest of your room looks like. Social media, however, displays gorgeous interior design shots of designer radiators and coloured radiators, so more than ever, people are looking up information on how to paint a radiator and indeed, if you can at all.

The short answer to the question “can you paint radiators?” is yes – but there’s a little more to do it than that! If you’re considering redecoration and have an old radiator, it may be worth considering first whether it would be easier (and more efficient for your home) to buy a new one. Great Rads has an extensive range of horizontal, vertical and designer radiators in a rainbow of colours and plethora of finishes. There’s options to stand out, to blend in or to be a design feature.

If, however, you’re running low on budget or time, or have fairly new heaters you want recolouring, painting your radiator may be the way forward. Whilst we wouldn’t recommend painting a brand new radiator, and would always suggest you seek professional advice to double check safety standards, this article aims to give basic advice and general information.

How To Paint a Radiator

Radiator being prepped for painting

Ideally, to paint a radiator, you’ll first have safely removed it from the wall: but if this isn’t an option, it’s not a must. Before starting to paint a radiator, ensure that it is switched off and entirely cool. Only embark on painting a radiator at all if it still works properly with no cold spots and no cold bottom.

Place a dust sheet on the floor and if the radiator is still attached to the wall, put a barrier between them. Open a window and door for ventilation, and if you’re using spray paint, make sure you’re able to get out for regular breaks so you don’t inhale too many chemicals.

Clean the exterior of your radiator thoroughly and make sure it’s completely dry and lint-free. Radiators often pick up lots of dust and residual grime from the air so even if you can’t see visible marks, it’s likely still not sparkling clean. If your radiator has a smooth finish, a light sanding (followed by another clean and dry) may help roughen the surface a little for the paint to really ‘cling’.

If you’re able to get hold of a specialist surface or radiator primer, use this as directed. This ensures the radiator’s surface is best able to hold the paint. Using a primer is always recommended.

When it comes to painting, it’s best to follow a set pattern across the radiator to ensure an even finish. Start with the edges and then work across the front. Ensure paint is thoroughly dry before – if required – you paint on a second coat. Work in small sections from the top down to allow for any dripping to be covered up. Keep paint coats and try to paint large sections in long sweeping motions to avoid visible brush strokes.

Don’t remove dust sheets or protectors, or turn the radiator back on, until the paint is thoroughly dry.

Which Paint to Use on Radiators

When it comes to which paint to use on radiators for the most effective cover job, many make the mistake of just using everyday household paint. This doesn’t work as a long-term fix, as the constant heating and cooling of the radiator will cause the paint to crack and break down.

There is specialist radiator paint available but, depending on the surface of your radiator, you may be able to use a paint specifically for that material. Whatever is used, ensure it is heat-resistant. Heat-resistant spray paint for radiators is fairly widely available now from hardware and decorating stores and can offer an easier option for those without the mobility to bend down and paint individual columns or areas.

If you’re not removing your radiator from the wall to paint it, consider investing in a radiator paint brush. These are designed to slot down the back of radiators and to get into the awkward nooks and crannies for a perfect paint job.

If you’re looking for the perfect colour radiator or would like advice on how best to redecorate your home with a new radiator, the Great Rads team are happy to chat! Just drop us an email, give us a call or log on to our website and get in touch to talk about all things interior design, striking heating solutions and beautiful colour palettes.


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