How to Paint a Radiator

Many greater Cleveland homes have water or steam radiators as part of their heating systems and keeping them clean allows heat to transfer efficiently. It’s important to take care of any rust spots (or peeling paint that can leave the radiator open to rusting) as you don’t want to have to replace a radiator.

As with many household projects, there is more than one way to paint a radiator. If you are looking for the best results, powder coating is the way to go. This provides a finish that looks like porcelain and there are no fumes from outgassing to deal with. First the radiator is removed and sandblasted to make sure you have a completely clean surface. The radiator is then powder coated, baking it at no higher than 400 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid damaging the interior gaskets of the radiator. The finish ends up so smooth that it makes keeping the radiator clean even easier. Plan on $300-500 per radiator to get this superior result, not counting the cost of removing/reinstalling the radiator.

If the budget does not allow for powder coating there are other options.

First, have the radiator removed. Go over any rust spots or peeling paint with sandpaper, then clean the radiator well with trisodium phosphate. The radiator can then be sprayed with oil-based alkyd enamel or Rustoleum high heat paint. Using other paints can lead to outgassing (fumes) when the radiator is used. In addition, the paint can become tacky every time the radiator heats up, causing dust or hair to stick to it. If you choose not to remove the radiators, the painting can be done with a hot dog roller or a special brush made to get into tight radiator spaces. The end result won’t be as nice, but it is certainly the most budget-friendly option at $20-30 per radiator.

Don’t neglect your radiators. Whether you choose to do the project yourself of invest in a premium finish, a little maintenance will help keep your radiators warming your home for years to come.

25 thoughts on “How to Paint a Radiator

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