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Can you paint a radiator?

A Spray Painted Radiator in multiple colours

It’s very possible that you have some old white convector radiators in your home that require painting.

They might have become yellow with age or may have been chipped and are revealing the bare metal underneath.

Whatever the reason, it is certainly possible to paint an old radiator as long as you stick to a few basic rules that this article will reveal below.

Get the right paint

When the heating is on full blast, radiators obviously get very hot, so it’s important that you choose a paint that won’t blister or melt due to the high heat outputs.

There are specific solvent-based paints for radiators that can cope with the heat so it’s advisable to buy a couple of pots of these before you start.

Clean & sand your radiator first

It’s quite likely your radiator is dirty, covered by years worth of muck from dust, sticky fingers, pets or other general household grime, so give it a wipe down with a cloth and some warm soapy water.

Depending on the surface of your radiator, it might be worth sanding down previous coats of paint or removing any lumps and bumps to ensure you get a lovely smooth finish with your new coat.

Don’t paint a hot radiator

In order for the paint to bond properly to your existing radiator, it’s important you let the radiator cool down completely before attempting to paint it.

Switch off the central heating completely and ensure that the radiator is cold, otherwise you could get a smeary or flaky finish that looks worse than when you started.

Take your time

Choose good quality brushes. One chunky one for the majority of the radiator’s tank and then have a smaller one for any harder to reach areas.

Additionally, don’t be tempted to rush the job in order to get it over with quickly. It doesn’t really take long to paint a radiator anyway, so taking an extra 10 or 15 minutes will give you a lovely finish and less likelihood of splattering paint everywhere.

Don’t overload your brush with paint and paint slowly up and down in line with the grooves. Make your way across until you’ve covered the whole rad evenly.

Wait for it to dry and make a decision on whether you need to apply a second coat.

Do you need a new radiator?

While giving a radiator a fresh coat of paint can give it a new lease of life, there comes a point when you need to decide if it’s worth sprucing up your old rad or if it’s time to get a new one.

If your radiator is over 15 years old, the years of loyal service could mean that it has started to rust on the inside and is no longer emitting heat as efficiently as it once was.

This could particularly be the case if you haven’t been regularly topping up your chemical inhibitor levels and radiator sludge has accumulated at the bottom of the rad. A classic symptom of this is a radiator that is cold at the bottom but hot at the top.

It’s certainly possible to call out a plumber to remove and flush out the radiator, but it’s often cheaper to replace the whole radiator with a new one.

Modern radiators are more efficient than they ever have been before and there are a vast array of styles, finishes and sizes to choose from.


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