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The No-Nos of Painting Radiators

The No-Nos of Painting Radiators

Posted by Mat Chiappini - Aspect Wall Art on 27th May 2020


Any chance to add a splash of colour to a wall is always a good thing, at least when you’re looking at some of the wall art available at Aspect Wall Art.

Sometimes though, you can find yourself having redecorated a room just the way you want it, only to realise something big and obvious you can’t quite put your finger on has left everything not looking exactly how you want it. Without playing a game of Hot and Cold to help pinpoint exactly where you should be looking, I can tell you that the hotter you get, the hotter your room will be too!

Yes, it’s the humble radiator, which can sometimes be a stickler in helping a room look perfect. In most rooms, a traditional style white radiator will quietly work away to help get a room feeling nice and toasty. Decorate a room in a certain way though, and that radiator can stick out like a sore thumb.

The most obvious way to help avoid problems is to get some paint out and change how your radiator looks. Unlike your walls though, you can’t just pop open a lid and apply any old paint on your radiators. So if your asking yourself how to paint a radiator or how to repaint a radiator, here are some great tips on what  not to do.


Image credit : https://www.cse.org.uk


Don’t forget to turn the radiator off


Paint will bubble and crack if it isn’t allowed to dry correctly. If you’re applying paint to a surface which gets hotter than 30°C, it can’t adhere properly. Paint needs moisture to set and stick on a surface. Apply paint on a surface which wants to repel moisture, and you’ll end up with a radiator that has bubbles and cracks all over the surface. This is definitely not the best way to paint a radiator !


Image credit : https://www.bhg.com


Don’t use the wrong paint


You can’t simply lift a can of white emulsion and expect it to work on a radiator. Specific paints can have a lot of trouble adhering to radiators. Paints which can be used on radiators include, but are not limited to:


● Radiator primer paint

● Spray paint

● Gloss paint

● Solvent-based paints

● Clear overcoat


Regarding clear overcoat, you’d want to use this if you decide on using an emulsion type paint. You need the radiator to have a protective coating, to help protect it from everyday marks and scratches that can occur. If it all sounds too confusing and you would rather get a more bespoke service, I recommend visiting  trade radiators to see their range of custom painted radiators. If the DIY side of updating your radiators is not for you then this option will inevitably save you a lot of time and hassle. Simply get a professional to do the work and deliver a ready to fit radiator (in your preferred colour) directly to your front door.


Image credit : https://everydayoldhouse.com


Don’t forget to clean


Preparation is vital, so never ever start painting a radiator without giving it a thorough clean first. If you get a cloth and some warm soapy water, a good scrub of the radiator will quickly highlight just how much dirt has gathered on your radiator over time, even if you’re someone who religiously dusts it down when cleaning the house.


Image credit : https://www.hunker.com


Don’t paint over paint


If you are repainting a radiator that has previously been painted, you may think it is ok to dive right in after giving it a quick clean. Don’t!

Get up close and check the surface of the radiator for any small bubble of bumps. Using finer sandpaper to create a smooth area will help paint latch on much easier. Think of it like painting wood; sanding a radiator is very important, as the more time you take smoothing it out, the better the finished job will look.


Image credit : https://www.thepaintshed.com


Don’t forget to prime


That little bit extra time spent applying a layer of primer can be the difference between an easy paint job and having to sand it all off and start over. Try and get some radiator specific primer, as opposed to metal primer. Remember that your radiator already has a coating on it, and unless you have rust on the edges or paint chipped away on the surface, a metal primer won’t be of much use.


Always follow the groove


You’ll want to be liberal with brush stroke but reserved with how much paint you have on the brush. Always paint in the same direction of the radiator grooves (i.e. up and down) or else the finished coat can tend to look patchy and uneven.


Image credit : https://www.thegreenhead.com


How to paint behind a radiator


Last but by no means least... I hear you ask, but how do I paint behind a radiator? Well, it very much depends on the gap that you have to work with and the type of radiator that is attached to your wall. For many modern homes, they are now fitted with flexible plastic pipes. This makes it really easy to remove the radiator from the wall, rest it on your legs or ( other suitable object ) and merrily paint away. Smug in the knowledge that you have saved a great deal of time and money not having to fully remove it. Once completed, carefully align it back onto the brackets and it's job done.

For older copper pipe fittings, where this can't be done, there are a few other options. Some more complicated and troublesome than others ! Where space allows, the simplest option is to use one of the various specialised painting tools available on the market. Here are some of the most common you can purchase:


● Long handled mini roller

● Angled radiator brush

● Foam brush sponge


If the space behind the radiator doesn't allow for this, there is only one option left available to you. Unfortunately, you will need to get a professional in to remove it for you ! Depending on the way that your system is configured, they may get away with simply shutting off the water supply to the single radiator affected, this would be the cheapest option. Otherwise, a large part of your homes supply may need to be drained down before the radiator can be removed. Obviously the only person that will know this, is the plumber that you employ. The cost of the work will ultimately be dictated by which route they need to take.



Get more tips for improving your walls


I hope that you found our post on painting radiators helpful and wish you good luck in your decorating tasks. If you’re planning, or in the middle of decorating your walls, don’t forget to check out our latest  painting tips blog. There is some great advice for anyone thinking of painting their walls.



Image credit : Lick.com