I had to learn how to paint a radiator after moving house recently. The previous home owners had slapped on the most eye-wateringly awful brick-red radiator paint. It’s been like living with a dried blood eyesore slap bang in the middle of our living room ever since. The crappy paint job doesn’t help much either. It’s quite a large radiator, it’s very visible and it’s been driving me nuts since the day we moved in. I’ve been itching to finish other projects so I could get stuck in and just get it painted!
As it’s half-term I’ve finally had time this week to get my nightmare radiator painted.
Here’s What I Learned About How To Paint a Radiator
I’ve been a DIY painter since my dad let me (made me) decorate my own bedroom when I was about 16. Since then I’ve decorated and up-cycled a lot, but painting a radiator isn’t quite the same as painting walls or furniture.
There was nothing wrong with the old radiator, so there was no way I was going to shell out for a new one – it was time for a tin of radiator paint and a spot of good old-fashioned elbow grease. But – I’ve seen some botched radiator paint jobs, with bubbling, cracked paint and I didn’t fancy the stress or cost of getting this project wrong. So I needed to do some (very) dull but necessary preparation work.
Preparation Before Starting To Paint A Radiator
Before diving into the tin of paint and getting busy with my paint brush (which I was itching to do) here’s what I did:
- Made sure the radiator was turned off (the paint needs to be completely dry before the radiator is used again) It’s 24 degrees here today, so zero chance of the rad coming on, but I isolated it anyway, as our heating system is a tad temperamental..
- Washed the radiator down with a cloth and soapy water, to remove all of the
crapdust and grease hiding in all the little crevices. So boring to do, but OMG the water was disgusting after I’d done this, so there must have been a lot of dust and grime on there.
- Dried the radiator with a lint-free cloth
- Sanded it down gently with fine grade sandpaper to make the surface a little bit rough, and easier for the paint to stick to (maybe I’ve just watched far too many DIY TV shows!)
- Brushed off all of the dust, wiped it down with a damp cloth and rubbed it dry again. I wasn’t taking any chances of getting any dust into my shiny new paint surface!
- Last, but not least, I ripped up a couple of bin liners to act as dust sheets, securing a couple behind the radiator too so I wouldn’t get paint on the wall or floor by accident
What Paint Did I Choose To Paint My Radiator?
Apparently you can use normal emulsion paint on radiators, but it goes yellow over time and I’d need to buy a clear radiator overcoat to apply on top of the emulsion, to protect the paint.
Frankly, it all sounded like a lot of effort!
Radiator Spray Paint was an option but I’m not a fan of spray paint or the mess it can make!
I should mention that my builder friend did recommend applying a coat of primer before the top coat, but that it wasn’t 100% necessary if there was no rust on the radiator. Frankly I wasn’t up for that if it wasn’t a ‘need-to-do’!
Here’s How I Painted My Radiator
Before getting started, I opened the windows because paint fumes can be dangerous and they’re pretty stinky too.
Before opening the paint tin, I double-checked the lid was on firmly then gave it a good shake. I used an old flat-headed screwdriver to gently prise the lid off the tin, then stirred the paint well with an old pencil.
The actual painting bit was pretty easy as it’s just like painting a wall. I could almost hear my Dad’s voice in my head saying ‘don’t apply the paint too generously as you’ll end up with paint runs’ and ‘remember to keep a wet edge going’. Dad – you’ll be pleased to hear that I followed those long ago lessons! I painted the top and bottom of the radiator first, before tackling the ‘twiddly’ bits.
I do wish I’d bought an angled brush though for those hard to reach bits – they were more than a bit challenging with my bog-standard brush…
Unfortunately I didn’t get away with one coat of paint. The original colour showed through the first 2 coats and I ended up needing 3 coats altogether! I had to leave 24 hours between each coat so the whole process took 3 days.
I’m glad I learned how to paint a radiator. The old one looks as good as new now and the room looks so different. Tackling this project myself saved me a small fortune too.
My Biggest Challenge When Painting A Radiator
The biggest challenge by far was persuading my two fur babies not to ‘investigate’ and ‘assist’ while I was painting. It’s a pure miracle that I don’t have a furry radiator and two cats with white highlights in their fur!!