How to Paint Heat Registers

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Removing a heat register before painting it is a lot easier than painting it in place.
Removing a heat register before painting it is a lot easier than painting it in place. (Image: tab1962/iStock/Getty Images)

You can enhance the appearance of your drab or mismatched heat registers by giving them a fresh coat of paint--as long as it's the appropriate type of paint. Before you begin, you should consider some important factors. Because heat registers are metallic, they are ill-suited for adhesion. You must apply a special coating that will abrade the register to provide a tooth for the paint to latch onto. In addition, you must choose a particular type of paint, capable of withstanding high temperatures, or the finish will ultimately bubble and peel.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Water-based degreaser
  • Rags
  • Towels
  • Masking paper
  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer
  • High temperature spray paint
  • Respirator

Turn off the heater and allow the register to cool for four to six hours.

Unscrew the screws on the register and remove it from the wall, ceiling or floor.

Clean the register with a water-based degreaser. Rinse the register with wet rags. Dry the register with towels.

Coat the heat register with a galvanized-metal-etching spray primer. Hold the can 8 inches from the register as you apply it. Wait 4 hours for the primed register to dry.

Coat the primed heat register with a high-temperature spray paint. Hold the can 8 inches from the register as you apply it. Wait 6 hours before replacing the register to the wall, floor or ceiling.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear a respirator if you are working in a poorly ventilated area.
  • Do not paint over a bare heat register, or the paint will peel.
  • Do not use a plain latex or oil-based primer on a heat register, or the finish will fail.
  • Do not use a plain latex or oil-based paint on a heat register, or the finish may ultimately peel.

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