Tips on Painting Radiators


If you have friends in the decorating business -- or if you're researching painting a radiator in your home -- you may have discovered the debate over whether a radiator should be painted to match the walls in a room or in a contrasting color to make it stand out. In the end, this is a matter of personal preference. After you make this decision, the task comes down to using the right tools, which are a brush and a hot dog paint roller.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Brush
  • Hot dog paint roller
  • Old blanket or drop cloth
  • Caulk
  • Face mask
  • Wire brush
  • Dish soap
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Primer
  • Select an oil-based paint or a resin-based paint specially designed for radiators. It's true that some high-quality latex paints can withstand temperatures up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. And a latex paint will allow you to achieve an exact match with the wall color, if this is your preference. Still, oil-based paints are generally more durable and heat- and rust-resistant than latex. A good resin-based paint formulated for radiators and other hot surfaces can withstand temperatures of up to 500 degrees.

  • Select brush-on paint instead of spray paint. While spray paint generally brings speed to most painting jobs, it doesn't always breed precision. By design, radiators have hard-to-reach spots and usually are located right next to a wall. You could address the latter issue by protecting the area around the radiator with poster board, but it's advisable to take the slow-and-steady approach to this job with a brush and perhaps a small, skinny roller -- sometimes referred to as a hot dog roller.

  • Prep the cooled-down radiator. Lay an old blanket or drop cloth in front of the radiator and ventilate your work space by opening a window or turning on a box fan. Fill any hairline cracks along the radiator with caulk. Don a face mask before using a wire brush to remove any rust or paint flakes. Wash the radiator with a mild dish soap and sponge, and let it dry.

  • Apply a rust-inhibiting primer to the radiator -- a step that will elongate the staying power of the paint job. Follow the drying directions on the primer before proceeding.

  • Apply paint to the radiator by working from the top down. Keep a wet edge, just as if you were painting a wall. Oil-based paints taker longer to dry than latex paints, so ensure that the paint has dried thoroughly before -- and if -- you decide to apply a second coat.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remember that preparation is vital with all painting jobs. Shortcuts may seem smart in the short term but usually become evident on the wall.


  • Photo Credit Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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