Painting a Home Radiator?

We have old radiators that have chipping paint and rust. We want to do something with them. Have been told to sandblast/not sandblast, darker color radiates more heat/not, etc. We were told that after sandblasting to not paint, that that would give the most efficiency.


If not painted would a polyurethane work or do they mean NOTHING on the radiator? We like the look of the old silver, that seems to accentuate the decorative features on the radiators. We are totally confused. Please help!

Roger and Rosi from Stanley, NY

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March 17, 20080 found this helpful

If it were me, after removing the old paint, I'd spray paint them with high-temp ENGINE paint... You can buy it in the automotive section or at any auto parts store. It can handle higher temps & comes in many colors.

* On DIY & HGTV I see them building wood benches with holes in them for heat to escape OVER existing older radiators... This not only reduces the amount of heat that can get out, it also worries me, since we've already had a home fire in the past, I always think about safety... Talk to someone in the know before doing this. Instead of using wood (like they do on HGTV, I'd use metal with a decorative metalwork grate on the front. This way you'd not have to worry about fire.

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March 18, 20080 found this helpful

I saw an episode of This old House concerning stripping the paint from old radiators. A company in New York was getting them when old buildings were torn down and stripping them, then selling them for LARGE amounts of money. Some of them were very ornate and pretty. If it was me, I think I'd strip the paint and go with the original silver look. (He used both stripping and sandblasting methods to refinish)


You said you liked the silver look--go for it you can always paint over.

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By cece (Guest Post)
March 18, 20080 found this helpful

I was told that when you paint radiators that you should the same paint as painting other metal things. So I would say Rust-o-leum paint would work. they have a website too. I would check with them first.

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March 18, 20080 found this helpful

The radiators in my old home had been painted by the previous owner as well. The living room radiator was a very dark blue. I consulted a salesperson in the paint dept. at Lowe's about this same issue who sold me oil-based paint. I cleaned and sanded the radiator and then painted it a very dark brown, only because it was such a hard color to cover up.


It was very time consuming, but it looks 100% better than it was. I have never noticed any change in the heating performance. I would have preferred the "natural" look as well, but removing the radiators from the home and having them sand-blasted was just not a cost-effective option for me.

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By Sharon (Guest Post)
March 20, 20080 found this helpful

IF you have rust on your radiators, you need to wire brush and sand, the rust off. You will need to prime these spots with an oil base primer. IF you don't, the radiator will start to rust again!...

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By Guest (Guest Post)
February 6, 20090 found this helpful

I took and sandblasted mine/be easy with the presure you might have to do them a couple times. Then go to an auto shop that sells engine paint.I did mine in a lite gray.


there are a lot of colors and you can buy it buy the quart if you have a spray gun wagnor electric did a nice job.

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March 17, 2008

I would like to paint my home radiators the same color of the rooms they are in. Do I need a special primer on the radiators before I start painting?

Jennifer from Dayton, Ohio


Painting Home Radiator

I thought of doing the same thing but was told that I needed to remove the old paint first, otherwise the heat would not radiate through with to many coats of paint on it. I think I only have one coat of paint on them now but don't want to take the chance that two would be too many. (11/23/2007)


By Susie

Painting Home Radiator

I have painted all twelve radiators in my home. (They had been painted a number of times previously.) The paint thickness, does not interfere with the heat, radiating into the room. I used oil based paint. I cleaned them well first, with trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP. You can buy TSP at a hardware store, Home Depot or Lowe's. It is very time consuming, painting them, but they look great, painted the same color as the walls in the room. (11/26/2007)

By Sharon

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