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Radiator re-finishing

Mark_125 Member Posts: 56
Hello Friends,

Summer is finally here and I'm looking to get some of my cast iron radiators refinished, we have an 8 month old and he is already chewing on everything. The paint on the radiators is old and flakey (yes, you've heard it all before). If I get them fixed up now I figure I'll never have to touch them again (in my lifetime anyway).

I live about 30 minutes north of New York City - does anybody know of any powder coating specialists in the NY metro area who will collect and return cast iron radiators? A specialist who also knows how to deal with the particulars, such as keeping them below 400 degrees.

I have found Metal Man restoration in Yonkers who offer a full service, but they use traditional painting techniques. I'm not sure if the way they fix them up will last as long as powder coating. They told me this is what they do:

<span style="color:#1F497D">- strip with a chemical bath (which cleans the inside and outside and remove 98% of the paint)

- sandblast the radiator of the remaining paint and minor rust

- primer with an epoxy primer

- 4 coats of a polyurethane marine paint </span>

Any insight or experience would be greatly appreciated.




  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    High-temp paint

    Most paints say not to use them on surfaces that are regularly heated to 200°F. That's a steam radiator. Only paints designated "high temp" or "high heat" are intended for applications where the temperature can exceed 200°F. If it doesn't say it, it's not.

    Some paints become fluid at 200°F and can stick to anything that comes in contact with them. More often they just give off volatile gases. The concentration of these gases may not be harmful, but it sure smells bad. Over time the loss of these volatile components causes the paint to shrink and become brittle, so it loses its ability to expand and contract with the substrate, and it will begin to crack and flake off.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • eclark
    eclark Member Posts: 33
    What about Sunrads?

    They've got that little grille that snaps in at the bottom with the tab / pin combo that needs to flex to push them in and pull them out.  I have one that I mean to get coated this summer (and will do others as I renovate those rooms over the coming years) but I realized I don't know if the powder coat is right for those relatively thing pieces of stamped sheet metal and the tabs that I need to bend to pull them out when I clean them every year.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    I wouldn't powder-coat it.

    Powder coating tends to flake off if flexed, and it tends to fail along sharp edges too. I don't have anything specific to recommend, but look for something that covers well with a thin coat. The thicker the paint, the more likely it will crack. And make sure the surface is immaculately clean and prepped according to the instructions. Since this surface isn't in direct contact with the steam, it probably doesn't need to be a high heat paint.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Dean_7
    Dean_7 Member Posts: 192
    Refinishing Radiators

    This is what I did about ten years ago. I had our radiators sandblasted to bare metal to remove about 70 years of multiple paint layers. Then I repainted them with Plasticote high temp engine enamel. This was done in July and Aug. The paint had very little odor and none that we could notice when the heat was turned on in late Sept. The paint has held up very well over the last ten years. It looks as good as when it was first applied.
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 564
    Rustoleum Hammertone?

    Has anyone tried the Rustoleum Hammertone paints that are xylol based? They supposedly don't even need to be primed. I used it on an outdoor iron rail last year and it looks fine. The data sheet says "Dry Heat Resistance: 200°F". I have 5 radiators to paint and I really want to do it on the floor they're on, rather than shlep them to a stripper. I'm figuring on covering up a smaller room and using is as a spray booth with a fan pulling the air out.
  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,849
    I can't recommend it.

    Rust Oleum hammered finish paints aren't intended for temperatures in excess of 200°, so they're not for steam radiators. They do make a hammered engine paint, available in black and silver, that's good to 500°, and a line of high heat paints, available in black, silver, white, green and almond, and ultra high heat in black, silver and copper.

    If you're painting indoors, even with fume extraction, you should use an NIOSH approved organic vapor respirator. Read the MSDS for safety and disposal information.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24