Some people may be worried that painting their radiators could lead to lower efficiency and unpleasant paint smells that fill the room when the radiator is on. But in fact you can paint your radiators to make them complement your decor. You can use your radiators to make a design statement or to ensure they blend in with your colour scheme. The paint won’t have an effect on the efficiency of the radiators.

Whatever you want to do with your radiators, we’ve created this guide that tells you how to strip the old paint off them and what colours you should use when repainting them.

How to remove paint from radiators

If you’re restoring your radiators, it’s better to start afresh. This means stripping the paint off your radiator before you add a new coat. This is a relatively easy but time-consuming job, particularly if you have multiple radiators to work on.

The best way to remove the paint is to use a paint stripper. You should follow the instructions carefully and use the appropriate eyewear. The paint remover will gently soften the layers of paint. The more layers you’re taking off, the more stripper you’ll need. Once the paint is soft enough, you’ll be able to use a scraper to gently remove it without damaging the structure of the radiator underneath. You may need a paintbrush to apply stripper to particularly difficult-to-reach or ornate areas.

You should wait for the radiator to dry completely before attempting to repaint it.

How to paint a radiator

Follow the steps below to get the best finish on your radiator:

  • Step 1: Ensure that the radiator is off and cool. A warm radiator may make your paint drip and no one wants drip marks.
  • Step 2: Give the radiator a thorough clean with a damp cloth and then dry it afterwards.
  • Step 3: Prepare the area. This includes putting dust sheets down, covering the walls behind the radiator or pipes and moving any furniture out of the way. The paint can splash and you don’t want to ruin anything.
  • Step 4: Give your radiator a light sand to prepare it for the paint. Re-clean the radiator and use a vacuum to remove any fine pieces of dust.
  • Step 5: Apply your radiator paint. Use good quality brushes to avoid paint streaks. Alternatively, use a spray paint for an even finish.
  • Step 6: When the paint is dry, give the surface another light sand. Clean the area and apply your second coat of paint.
  • Step 7: Wait for the paint to dry for at least 24 hours before turning your radiator back on. 

What is the best paint for radiators?

Many people believe that radiators require special radiator paint, however this isn’t the case. They can be painted in any standard wood and metal paint and don’t need to be heat-protected. This means you only have to buy one type of paint for your entire room.

However, if you choose to colour your radiators white, it’s advised that you use a particular kind of paint. This is because standard white paint may yellow over time as the radiator regularly warms up and cools down. A paint that’s made specifically for radiators will remain white for a longer period of time.

What is the best colour for a radiator?

White is still the most popular colour for a radiator, but don’t feel like you need to stick to this. Some home interior designers claim that you shouldn’t use white paint in your house at all, and that doors, ceilings, skirting boards and radiators should all be painted in colour. If you’re brave enough to try this, then your radiator can be painted the same colour as your walls.

Alternatively, if you want to make your radiator stand out, you could paint it a different colour to the wall behind it.

The options are endless when it comes to choosing which colour to paint your radiators.

How to restore cast iron radiators

Cast iron radiators are still hugely popular in traditional Georgian and Victorian homes. Many people will buy new cast iron radiators that have been designed in the traditional style. However, if you have the original radiators, it’s likely that they’ll need to be restored.

Over time, radiators can build up debris inside them, including rust and other dirt. The dirt could cause a blockage in your heating system and may make your radiator much less efficient. If your radiator feels cold at the bottom, there could be a build up of sludge inside it.

You should take the time to have your radiator restored so that your heating system works as efficiently as possible. A gas boiler with 98 per cent efficiency won’t be able to perform at this level if your radiators aren’t in good condition. 

If your original radiator has been covered in layers and layers of paint over time, this can conceal the ornate detailing that you want to make the most of. You might therefore want to find a company that can sandblast your radiator. This will give your radiator a kind of exfoliation that will strip off all the paint and return it back to bare iron. You should also ask them to jetwash the inside of the radiator to remove all the dirt and rust. Once this is done, your radiator can be returned to you, looking like new and ready to be repainted.

The easiest way to paint your cast iron radiator is to spray paint it. Use dark colours for a traditional house, such as black or dark blue. Alternatively, you could paint it white for a fresh, modern twist. As mentioned previously, if you do want to paint it white, you should choose a special radiator paint to prevent the heat from turning the paint yellow.

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