How to Paint Heat Registers

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.

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

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver

  • Water-based degreaser

  • Rags

  • Towels

  • Masking paper

  • Galvanized metal etching spray primer

  • High temperature spray paint

  • Respirator

Step 1

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

Step 2

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

Step 3

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

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Tip

Wear a respirator if you are working in a poorly ventilated area.

Warning

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.

References & Resources