How to Paint Radiators

chipster_2007February 27, 2008

I have read through the previously posted messages re painting radiators and still have a few. If I can remove any loose paint with a brush, is that enough or should I try a paint stripper? I am assuming this should be done before I paint the room.Yes/No? As to what color to paint the radiator...I thought silver/aluminum was the way to go?What are my other options? Thanks

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I'd advise strongly against a chemical paint stripper because the cleanup would be difficult, and residue could cause the new paint to fail if it is not cleaned off adequately. Chipping or scraping is good. A wire brush can reach some places. I have stripped a few rads by chipping with a screwdriver and hammer. Just chip an hour a day, and in a few weeks that paint will be gone. ;-)
Use a rust-inhibitive spray primer, and a high temp. top coat.
Any color is fine, most were originally painted with a thin metallic paint, gold or silver, but you can do whatever you want; the heat output will not change noticeably.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2008 at 4:08PM
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I have always just painted the radiators w/ a semi gloss that was same color as the trim in the room. I once tried to strip one w/ a wire wheel on a drill and all that did was dig into the radiator itself. Since then, I have not had a need to strip any. Just be sure to paint them when they're cool and clean first w/ a TSP and water mix.

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 9:16PM
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Nice thing about buying an unmaintained old house is there wasn't much paint on the rads. I wirebrushed well and used gold metalic paint on all which looks 'right' to my eye in an old house. The early paints (25 years ago) tarnished quickly. The past few years I used Rustoleum spray paint which holds up very well. It comes in a few different shades of gold metalic (among other colors).

    Bookmark   February 29, 2008 at 11:29PM
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The only inappropriate paint on a radiator is metallic paint if it has a reflective finish and a high content of a metal like aluminum or colored aluminum. Such finishes were not used in older houses because they were know to be poor transmitters of radiant energy (infrared energy that is transmitted directly to objects in the room without warming the air) and radiant energy is very important in a house with many radiators placed away from windows.

A bright shiny true aluminum surface would, of course, be considered a "radiant barrier", only emitting about 4% of the energy. A shiny high content aluminum paint might emit 40% to 60%. All other paints or even a bare radiator would emit about 94%.

The only reason I can think of to use a shiny metallic paint is to reduce the efficiency of the radiator because it is over-sized for the room it serves. But since an inefficient radiator just returns water to the boiler at a higher temperature, it would probably be more energy efficient to maintain the radiator's highest output and lower the temperature of the circulating water.

Otherwise, you can paint your radiators any non-metallic color or finish you want because the emittance would be the same. Mine were originally dark green in 1891 and only a few have been repainted.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 12:01PM
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I have some paint chipping off my bathroom Radiator and the dining room one in my apartment was painted several times in the past. someone painted the place mint green at one time and painted the dining room rad to match then later it was painted white but not done well to start with then never finished. I discovered in the first floor where there are covers on them that one is pink (gasp!) when the tenant complained about not getting much heat from it. turned out it needed air bled from it. the radiators in my house that are not painted over are silver in color. my house was build around 1910. I plan to paint the ones that have been painted some odd color or are white and need to be redone white again to match the trim color in the house.

what is the best paint to use? semi gloss?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Use whatever paint will adhere well and will be easy to clean.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 7:55AM
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I hated the idea of having to do up my radiators myself so last fall I searched for contractors who did designer radiators online and engaged one to install ready made and painted ones into my new house. Never regretted it because I have heard of the hassle it can be to DIY.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2012 at 3:57AM
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