Wondering How To Paint A Radiator? All The Answers

Who doesn’t want a uniform, alluring look and décor in their homes? However, a radiator that doesn’t blend in ruins the ambience of the space. Thinking about painting yours? Well, a radiator paint job is different from painting your ceiling, pottery creations, walls, doors, etc.

Hand painting a radiator with paint brush

With a simple, straightforward plan and the right equipment, painting yours becomes a breeze. Don’t worry – we got you covered. In this article, we will give you all the information you need to paint your radiator perfectly! Excited? Let’s get started!

Can you paint yours and why should you do it?

Most of you might still be wondering why paint a radiator and asking “can I do it myself”? Well, we are here to answer your queries, folks! The short answer to the question is “YES”.

They can be easily painted – if you have the right information on your hands. Whether you want to make it the focal point of your room or you want it to match the existing colour scheme, it can be a simple DIY project

Thinking why should you paint yours? We all know that new radiators as well as designer radiators can be pretty expensive, and when you include the costs of installation and delivery, it all comes out to be too much. So instead of replacing your old, rusty, dingy-looking radiator, you can paint it!

By painting yours, you can blend them into the background, make them a stand-out feature of your room, or complement the space with them. It all depends on what you need!

What you should know before painting your radiator

Thinking about getting some paint and a brush and start DIY painting? No – that is the wrong way to go about painting anything – let alone a radiator for that matter. Before you start your paint job, there are a few things you need to know beforehand. You don’t want to get the wrong paint or brushes and then replace them later. 

1. Special Paint

When you are painting a radiator, you can’t use normal paint. Why? Well, standard paint doesn’t account for the extremely high and low temperatures. The changes in temperature due to the heating system can cause the paint to weaken and eventually crack

Radiator paints and brushes

Therefore, you need to get heat resistant radiator paint that can withstand the flux in temperature. Some people use spray paint or paint sprayers as well, but you will have to remove it from the wall to get a perfect look. You can paint your radiator any colour – there is no restriction at all. All you need to do is ensure that you are using the correct type of paint

2. Purpose-Specific Radiator Primer

Before you paint the surface of the radiator, you have to prime it and you will have to get a metal primer or specialist radiator primer. If yours is rusty, you will have to buy an anti-corrosive primer to stop the rust from getting worse. A clear radiator overcoat will help seal in the paint perfectly, so you will have to buy that as well.

3. Painting a Radiator – Should You Remove it from the Wall?

Most of you might be wondering whether you will have to remove the radiator from the wall or not. Ideally, you should remove it before you paint it. However, if you don’t want to or if yours is fixed in place, then you can skip that part.

You will just have to be careful and not get any paint on the wall around it. Plus, you should keep in mind that you won’t be able to paint the backside properly. But since it is mostly hidden,it is not such a bad trade-off.

Preparing your radiator before you start painting

Yes, you need to prepare yours before you start. The steps are very basic but are essential and you can’t skip any of them if you want a perfect radiator paint job. Let’s have a look!

Multicolored sandpapers on black background

Things You Will Need

  • Cleaning rags
  • Old newspaper
  • Painter’s tape
  • Cleaning detergent
  • Scrub
  • Scraper/Sandpaper/Sander


1. Turn the Radiator Off

Before you start painting, you have to turn it off and let it cool down completely. If you apply paint to a hot radiator, your paint will not properly adhere to the surface. It usually takes a radiator around 30 minutes to an hour to cool down. When your radiator is close to room temperature, you can move on to the next step.

2. Prepare the Surrounding Area

Cover the floor with a damp cloth to ensure that the paint doesn’t ruin your floor. Apply painter’s tape or masking tape around the radiator as well so that the paint doesn’t get on the walls, especially if you are thinking of spray painting

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, paint is going to get splashed around so you have to cover all the adjacent surfaces with newspapers, cleaning rags, etc. Move any furniture out of the way and keep your pets and kids out of the room.

3. Remove the Dirt, Dust, and Rust

The next thing you have to do is to clean the surface of the old radiator. It picks up a lot of grime, dust, and dirt over the years, no matter how clean your home is. You will need a mild detergent, a scrub, and some warm water

Gloved hand cleaning radiator from dust

Mix the detergent and water and remove all the dust from the radiator. Once you have cleaned it, you have to sand it down. This will not only remove the rust spots but will also roughen the surface a bit, making it easier for the paint to stay in place.

If there is a lot of rust and flaking paint, consider sanding it with sandpaper or a scraper. It is better if you paint the radiator valves as well. You can keep the back of the radiator white if you want. 

Step-by-step guide on painting radiators

Things You Will Need

  • Paint
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes (Angled radiator brushes)


1. Ventilate the Room

It is very important that you ventilate the room properly. Open the windows and doors to make sure that you don’t breathe in the paint fumes. 

2. Apply the Radiator Primer

The first step is the metal primer or the special radiator primer. Apply the primer coat with the help of the angled radiator brush. If you are using a primer spray, then keep the spraying nozzle about 15 to 20 cm away from the surface as you are priming the radiator

Glide the spray can in smooth up and down motions to get a nice, even finish and to keep the paint from dripping. Allow the top coat of primer to dry completely before you move on to the next step. The drying time will depend on the primer you are using – check the manufacturer’s instructions given on the can. 

3. Apply the First Coat of the Paint

Once your primer is completely dry, it is time to apply the first coat of the paint. If you are using a tin of paint, shake it before you open it. Then, mix the paint well with the help of a stick.

Hand applying paint to radiator

Take the angled paintbrush and apply it to your radiator, making sure that you are painting in the same direction as its grooves. This will help in giving a neat finish. For optimum results, you should paint it in stages.

Paint the edges first – top, bottom, and sides – and then move on to the front face. Work your way from one side of your radiator to the other and neatly join each section.

4. Apply the Second Coat

It’s time for the second coat of paint to ensure a perfect finish. Check the drying instructions of the paint and let the paint dry completely. You can skip the second one if you want, but we will recommend that you go with another coat of paint to get a seamless, amazing paint finish.

5. Apply the Clear Overcoat

This is an optional step but will help you a lot in the long run. An overcoat as well as an undercoat of clear paint will help seal in the paint and will prevent it from coming off easily. Also, it will give a gleaming, shiny look to yours which makes it look bright and new.

Simply apply the clear overcoat all over the radiator once the emulsion paint is dry. Voila! Your project is successfully finished!

Radiator painted as pencils set

We all have cast iron radiators or other types in our houses and sometimes they don’t blend in with the rest of the home décor. A nice way to make yours add to the beauty of your space is by painting them. We have mentioned all the steps you need to know about painting yours from start to finish. Simply follow them, and turn your dull, lifeless radiator into an alluring piece! And when you are done, you can cover the radiator pipes, as well.

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