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Radiators and Renovations

Amycat Member Posts: 4
I posted this right before the site upgrade:

<span>"I have just acquired a 1920 house with steam heat. The radiators are already

painted, but very drab and dingy, paint has flaked off in spots. I want to

disconnect the radiators and paint them in situ rather than send them out (too

expensive). I do not own a paint sprayer. I read the "how to paint

radiators" page and it seems the two options are an alkyd oil-based primer

with a latex finish coat or just an oil-based enamel finish. Any

recommendations? </span>

<span>BTW, my preferred color choice is white, to match trim and molding."</span>

<span>I received this reply from John:</span>

<span>"alkyd oil-based primer with a latex finish coat. Use a brush and a

"hotdog" mini roller. Also go a few shades liter than what you are

trying to match, it will darken after a few heat cycles. P.S. sometimes

we match the wall color behind unit, as they will disappear (also) into

the wall."</span>

<span>Do others agree?</span>

<span>Another option for a second floor room might be to simply remove the radiator entirely, which would free up some wall space.  Can this be done by simply removing/capping the pipe that connects to the radiator?  I don't know if the steam pipes run vertically or horizontally and I don't want to create a situation in which radiators don't function properly in other rooms.



  • beachplumb
    beachplumb Member Posts: 8
    Not sure...

    Only speaking for myself, Amy:  While I work on heating systems all the time, I've never painted any.  You may have better luck asking the same question at [url=]  Their forums are broken down by trade, and there is a painting forum there.  Good luck!
  • Painting Radiators

    Hi Amy -

    Oil based paints were phased out several years ago for homeowner use but were still available on a very limited scale to industrial painters though these are now be replaced with new latex paints that are especially designed for metal. You might want to go to a commercial paint store (one that only sells paint ) and talk to them and see have they have/recommend.  Rustoleum is still available as an oil based paint but is rather limited color wise. The problem with painting metal (commercially) is that latex is water based and the water contacting bare metal (iron), makes a rust spot.

    Latex works fine too- I just mentioned the above as it might be worth checking out. i did mine in latex and I was very happy with the result.

    As you mentioned use an alkyd oil-based primer first. It's better to use 2 thin coats of the primer rather than one thick coat as it will dry faster and also using 2 coats, you are more assured of complete coverage. As mentioned above if the latex touches bare metal without primer, you will get a rust spot that will show through the latex so make sure all the metal is covered with primer.

    Brushes- At the suggestion of someone on this site I used  the "hotdog" rollers and a 1 inch artist's paint brush. An artist's brush has a long metal ferrule between the wood handle and the bristles which you can then, using pliers, bend to a slight angle to get between the radiator tubes. This worked really well.  You'll need a small straight brush also.  I also used a paint additive called Floetrol "Latex Paint Conditioner" which is made by Flood Chemical. (Home Depot's paint dept. has it).  It's made for latex and make the paint go on easy/smooth  and gets rid of the brush / roller marks.  While you have plenty of time for the paint to really dry before winter, you might want to fire up your system before it gets too cold  and heat the newly painted radiators with the windows open  just in case there is any residual outgassing (smell)  from the new paint.

    Be really careful of your floor and surrounding areas.   When you clean the outside of the radiators you don't want the cleaner (I used TSP) dripping on your floor /walls. Also if you disconnect the radiator you'll get some rusty sludge dripping out. If you disconnect the radiator, be very careful working near the radiator or moving it as they are very heavy and can tip over easily when not attached to the pipe.

    As to capping off the radiator upstairs. I don't know how long you have the house but I'd go through a couple of winters before I started removing radiators just to make sure you don't need it. I would also get a pro to do this for you as breaking old pipe joints can be a problem.

    - Rod
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 17,190
    If you're still reading, Amy

    I've painted a lot of radiators with regular interior house paints, and they work just fine.  Scraped and wire brushed as best I could, primed, and then painted.  Any colour except metallic...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • kault913
    kault913 Member Posts: 1
    Steam Radiators for Sale...

    I want to sell 20+ steam radiators in all shapes and sizes. I'm looking for someone who could use them before I scrap them. I can send pix. They are from a pre 1900 home. They are located in southeast Michigan.
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