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How do you paint steam radiators? (Dan H.)

barbara_5 Member Posts: 1
looking for company that does sandblasting and refinishing
old 8 section radiator. might not do it at this time but
would like to know what company you used that i can get in touch with. looking forward to your reply. thank you.


  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,490
    What are your thoughts

    on painting steam radiators? What type of paint have you had the most success with? Any special techniques?
    Retired and loving it.
  • John@Reliable_14
    John@Reliable_14 Member Posts: 171

    When customers ask I tell them to clean w/tsp and prime w/oil base primer. Use a brush and hot dog roller,then to top coat with a shade lighter than wall color, seems that they will darken after a few heat cycles, most will find that this way the radiators will blend in with wall. Never had anyone that wanted to "show case" one yet, but would suggest sand blasting and power coat for that. John
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,515

    I am taking some Buderus rads to the Auto body shop later..
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,490

    Any particular brand of paint work better than others?
    Retired and loving it.
  • Derheatmeister
    Derheatmeister Member Posts: 1,515

    OH yeah forgot the color could be anything under the Rainbow..

    She wants A Butt mustard yellow ,TODAY...
  • Thad English
    Thad English Member Posts: 152
    100 year old cast iron....

    Sandblasting and powdercoating for a couple hunnerd a rad and they look brand spanky new. The real trick is to bake them for a bit longer so that any outgassing from the cast iron occurs before the powder coat dries. This will avoid any surface blemishes. I have had 7 100 year old steam rads done and they all came out fantastic.
    And a little bonus is that the finish is so smooth that dust and cat hair don't get stuck in between. It just comes out with a whick broom once a month.
  • Phil_17
    Phil_17 Member Posts: 178
    Rustoleum, ehh.

    I sandblasted one myself last fall and painted it with Rustoleum (used their bronze metallic finish). The paint went on easily, dried really quickly and the radiator looked terrific after painting. It did take a couple of days to finish outgassing once the heat came on, so some people would have a problem with that. The paint is somewhat soft, and will get tacky when it is hot (the kids hats and gloves tend to stick when left to dry) and it also seems to collect dust/hair. I may try the powder coating method next time, and compare the costs (the do-it-myself solution cost less than $20)
  • Phil_17
    Phil_17 Member Posts: 178
    stupid me

    Many years ago (1950) I painted the church radiators with aluminum paint. Didn't know it was a "no-no"
  • John@Reliable_14
    John@Reliable_14 Member Posts: 171
    Dan, I think that ..................

    any top brand should work. Not sure about the box store brands. Primer must be a alkyd oil base followed with a good latex top. Sherman Williams and California are two top brands that I have used with good results. John
  • Tim_41
    Tim_41 Member Posts: 153

    I sandblast them and then use a automotive spray gun for the paint. I did use rustoleam on my first 3 last year. I had to thin it by half for it to work with the spray gun. I finally bought a compressor to handle the air requirements for the sandblasting the painting. What a difference. I will try a different paint like some others here on the board have used for the 4 going in this spring.
  • keith
    keith Member Posts: 224
    Powder Coating?

    Who powdercoats radiators, autobody paint shops?

    What exactly is powder coating?

  • kevin_60
    kevin_60 Member Posts: 38
    painting rads

    I painted 2 rads 3 years ago with rustoleum high heat in a spray can. Still perfect, The can says it can handle up to 1200 degrees, but not a lot of choices of colors.
  • Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman Member Posts: 763

    I have radiators sand blasted and powder coated all the time. They look absolutely stunning when they are done. I use a commerical painting company who handles both the blasting and the coating. They have many colors to choose from. The radiators are cooked at 400*. Important not to get them any hotter because the paper gaskets between the sections can be damaged and cause leaks. Ask me how I know. The large window radiator shown below can easily cost $300 to $400 for the whole process plus the time to disconnect, transport to and from the paint shop, and reinstalling. The finish is quite durable. They even can do claw foot tubs with a near porcelain like finish.

    Dave Stroman
    Dave Stroman
  • Tom Hopkins
    Tom Hopkins Member Posts: 552
    \"Painting\" radiators

    Ditto everything that's been said about powdercoating. I HATE the thought of paying someone else to do what I can do myself with a little sweat and elbow grease, but powdercoating is so superior to the results I can achieve with even a professional spray setup that I find it's really worth the cost. I've had zero off-gassing issues, the finish is perfect (no drips, drabs, or missed spots), and let's face it- doing a good job cleaning and painting a radiator of any size is one of the more onerous tasks I can imagine.
    Refinishing radiators seems to me a textbook perfect example of when powdercoating makes sense. Of course if Mike T. wants to swing by and bronze my rads by hand, I'd be happy to oblidge!
    Patrick North
  • bob young
    bob young Member Posts: 2,177

    That wall rad. is a real beauty.
  • DaveC
    DaveC Member Posts: 201
    We also powder coat

    We also went the sand blast powder coat method. I do have one other caution. DON'T USE A PLUG WITH ONLY ONE THREAD TURNED IN TO KEEP THE THREADS CLEAN. You probably don't have to ask how I know. This color isn't quite mustard yellow but then we were trying to coordinate with the leftover registers we conned the owner in to taking off our hands. We did get a bag of the powder and some of the base liquid and painted the pipes by brush.
  • Paul C._2
    Paul C._2 Member Posts: 18
    Painting Steam Radiator

    Had one of mine plastic media blasted and finished with engine paint. Colors are limited, but GM Corporate blue worked for me, just a bit of odor until it cures. Powder coating sounds interesting.
  • J.C.A._3
    J.C.A._3 Member Posts: 2,981

    Those are beautiful!

    I love the wall hungs. I worked in an old laundry once that had them all over the walls, and it was without a doubt the nicest place to work when it was cold. Chris
  • Mike T., Swampeast MO
    Mike T., Swampeast MO Member Posts: 6,928

    Have only painted a few steam rads. Most with plain latex wall paint over an already sound, painted surface. Saw one batch a few years later, and they were OK, but not great with a few small areas of rust coming through.

    A couple with tradiational oil-based silver "radiator" paint. Condition of existing paint (silver) not too good, but customer didn't want to go the expense of removal/stripping. Haven't seen, but customer never complained.

    Haven't yet found anyone willing to pay what I consider a very reasonable fee for one of my custom bronzing jobs.

  • Jim Bennett
    Jim Bennett Member Posts: 607
    Powder coating....

    Check this out Keith.


    Jim Bennett
  • Floyd_50
    Floyd_50 Member Posts: 8
    Fast, cheap, AND easy.....

    Just go to Wallyworld and grab a bunch of cans of Rustoleum spray paint, the "Black Hammered" color. This paint leaves a textured finish and will cover many imperfections. As long as the existing paint is no peeling I just paint right over.
    Have done rads that I just wire brushed the loose paint off and then painted right over.... after a couple of coats the ridges from the paint, no paint parts just blend in with the hammered texture.
    The paint will gas a bit if heat is put right to the rad, but it will go away in a few days..

    Like I said, fast, cheap, and easy...

  • mikebegood
    mikebegood Member Posts: 17
    radiator paint

    I am a painting contractor and we always use Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo to paint radiators. It is an alkyd enamel that sprays well and has a beautiful finish. If we cannot convince the HO to remove the radiators so that they can be properly painted in the shop , we are forced to paint the radiators in place. We use either a "hot dog " roller or there is a paint brush designed to paint radiators ( shaped like a hockey stick). When painting radiators in place, the oil base enamel has excellent adhesion to the marginally prepared surfaces. Latex paint is for HO's.
  • Ben_12
    Ben_12 Member Posts: 5
    Hey Mikey

    I was going to gussy up my bathroom.Have you got any more of those "leftover registers"? They're kinda neat.
  • DaveC
    DaveC Member Posts: 201
    Sorry Ben

    We had built some heavy duty mirror balls and those registers were what we cut the squares out of. Not much market for the disco balls so no more registers.
    Seriously this was a "historically accurate" renovation of a train station and for some reason about half of the original brass grills disappeared while the building sat empty. None of the major manufacturers had similar registers so we had to improvise. I was attracted to this thread because I remember downloading an article from this site about the colors of radiators during that time period which helped us settle on the bronze powder coat.
  • Bart_8
    Bart_8 Member Posts: 7
    Duo-tone radiators

    When I bought my house it had a purple radiator, looks like latex wall paint, ugly. High on my list was to paint that radiator. The girlfriend at the time said she liked it, so painted radiators encroached upon my consciousness.

    There is a powder blue one in the bathroom. Which led me to think about the sensation of heat that radiators put off. The radiator in the dining room is red on the inside, purple on the outside. Think glowy. I use whatever spray paint strikes my fancy at the hardware store. Lighter colors need to be painted white, then the desired color. Inside first, then a light touch on the outside of a second, but similar color. The studio radiator is my favorite. Yellow (orangish)on the inside, orange on the outside. A little yellow sprayed straight down to highlight the cherubs with torches. The castings stand right out, I find myself leaning against it to warm up even when it is cool. It just radiates heat.

    The purple radiator is still there, still a bit ugly (5 years later). It is too large for the spot and covers part of a window. It will be replaced with one I found in the basement, about a foot square, but long with angular deco castings, which will go under the window and possibly support a window seat. Haven't decided on the colors, purple is now a tradition.
  • Dean_7
    Dean_7 Member Posts: 192

    When I did our radiators I had them sand blasted and painted them with high temp engine enamel (plasti-coat) two painted gray and two painted white. Powder coating was my first choice but there is no one capable of powder coating as large an object as a radiator within a reasonable distance of us.
  • Bruce_26
    Bruce_26 Member Posts: 27

    What painting company did the job on the radiators? They are artists. Beautiful.
  • mike jones_2
    mike jones_2 Member Posts: 92
    radiator painting

    keeping in mind that some radiators get much hotter than others and for a lot longer, depending how close to the boiler they are, we were wondering if some painters had good experience with rustoleum whereas the same process might do poorly on a really really hot radiator near the boiler.

    in the end, did anyone have troubles with wire brushing and then painting with any decent oil alkyd based primer covered by oil paint?

  • mike jones_2
    mike jones_2 Member Posts: 92
    radiator painting

    Subject: radiator painting

    keeping in mind that some radiators get much hotter than others and for a lot longer, depending how close to the boiler they are, we were wondering if some painters had good experience with rustoleum whereas the same process might do poorly on a really really hot radiator near the boiler.

    in the end, did anyone have troubles with wire brushing and then painting with any decent oil alkyd based primer covered by oil paint?
This discussion has been closed.