How can one paint their radiator? This is a great question and something at Columnrads that we get asked quite a lot. We think it is fantastic that customers are trying to liven up a rad. Not so long ago, rads where all white and old ones are generally yellowish, dirty white - but now there is no limits to what you can produce. The problem is that unless you have a designated spray booth with all the modern paint technology you are just not going to be able to produce a great finish.
There are different reasons for painting radiators and people paint different types of radiators in different ways. Normal rads, panel or convectors are generally finished in a high gloss RAL 9016 as standard and can be painted due to matching a room colour, dents or scratches and general discolouration. This is fine as they are a fairly inexpensive item and yes they do not often fit in. Column rads and towel rails on the other hand are a totally different ball game and in our opinion need to be professionally painted. There is the also the really popular raw metal finish that is actually a clear powder coat on the raw steel. This is a finish that cannot be re-created in the home and is something that the factory has perfected over years of trailing and laboratory inspection. There is also the stocked Express and Hammered Gold finish that really cannot be replicated outside of the factory. In these instances if you're looking for a finish that matches some of the designer radiators you have seen, then it can save time, energy and disappointment just to buy a new custom painted radiator. Sometimes it is just worth investing in something that will look good from the get go.
Tips and advice on painting a radiator
If you're going to paint a radiator then there is a few tips that you should consider. The best way is to remove the radiator from the wall. You can try to paint the radiator in location, using dust sheets and masking tape, whilst trying to avoid the skirting boards, but really, it is not very practical. It is exceptionally difficult to get the paintbrush in the hard to reach areas to get a good finish. In addition in all likelihood you'll also get radiator paint all over the surrounding areas too, which will mean you'll have even more work to do. With all this in mind, the recommendation here it to remove the radiator from the wall.
Once the radiator has been removed from the wall then it becomes easier to paint. To ensure that the paint fixes to the radiator properly then a good quality heat resistant paint needs to be used. You can't simply use emulsion paint that you used to paint your walls for touching up the radiator. The good news is that dedicated radiator paint is available to buy. This can also be found in spray paint format so that you can get a better finish.
Touch ups and minor paint jobs for radiators
Of course if you have just a few minor rust spots or bumps and chips where paint has been removed then you may be able to get away with touching up your radiator and do a basic paint job with a normal everyday paintbrush. Of course radiator paint will still need to be used- everyday paints should be avoided. It should not be too difficult to find paint in radiator white. Specialist paints are heat resistant and won't peel so easily. If the chips are in an awkward position then it may be worth buying an angled radiator brush will help you paint those difficult areas more effectively and to avoid spilling paint on the nearby areas.
For a more professional job, or to completely repaint a radiator then you will need to invest more time and energy into the process. Some know how on how to get a good finish is beneficial here as when it comes to paint, it is easy to mess it up and then you will likely just end up buying a new radiator anyway.
For a radiator that is looking very tired and worn out then you may need to consider a bare metal respray. This is because it is hard to paint a radiator with a brush without getting some brush marks. In this case it will take a long time to sand down the existing paint so that you can get a good finish. The trouble with radiators is that some of the bits are quite an odd shape, so you may need to sand some areas down by hand using something like a medium grade sandpaper. Once sanded ensure you remove all the excess by using a dry cloth to clean up the radiator. Rust stripper may be needed and regardless of the rust situation, you should prime your radiator using an anti-corrosive primer or specialist radiator primer to help you get a smooth finish. Without this it is very difficult to get a professional finish to the job.
Some people have old cast iron radiators and want to make them look neater or even maintain the current distressed look of the radiator. In these cases you might be able to paint the radiator with a clear radiator overcoat, which will 'lock in' the current finish. The effectively gives a protective coating to the radiator. Old radiators can be fixed up in this way. It may be worth treating some of the rusty spots if they exist, at least to a point to ensure that the radiator's corrosion doesn't get any worse over time.
Painting radiators or getting a new radiator
Once you've successfully painted a radiator for the first time then you should be ready to tackle all the radiators in your home that need renovating. However as mentioned in the previous section it can be difficult to get a good finish so it may be better simply to replace your radiators.
To paint a radiator in the home it is generally done using a metal based paint but these are totally different to a spray on powder coat and you cannot achieve the high quality finish. So if you are thinking about either column or towel rads and you want a specific finish please get a quote from Columnrads because you never know you might actually be surprised how cheap they actually are.