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Radiator Paint

bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
This has been discussed before, and I've read through those threads and watched all the youtube videos there are to watch, but there seems to be a ton of inconsistency on this issue so I thought I'd bring it up again.

My radiators are all covered in old flaking aluminum paint, so I want to put a matte layer on top to increase their radiant output and clean them up a bit. Aside from getting these done professionally (I have 11 radiators, so forget about it), it seemed to me that the best choice out there was Rustoleum's High Performance Enamel Spray.

http://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/professional/high-performance-enamel-spray

The problem with the high-heat paints is 1) I couldn't find a grey paint that didn't contain aluminum, and 2) the amount of off-gassing from these products is abysmal. In a million years I wouldn't paint something that was designed to stay in my house with that stuff.

The HP Enamel I linked above does have a grey that doesn't contain aluminum.

But now I'm thinking even this is not worth doing. It occurred to me that I have steam risers all over the house that get to the same temperature as the radiators, and they're painted. In fact, they are freshly painted with the same 100% acrylic paint as the rooms (Benjamin Moore Regal Select). The "internet" says not to use this kind of paint, that it will get tacky when heated, will bubble, or will peel. I haven't experienced any of that - all the risers are in perfect shape, and there was absolutely no smell when the heat was turned on (they had maybe 2-3 months to chill out before the radiators turned on). Benjamin Moore doesn't provide heat data on these paints (they give a boiling point but I believe that refers to the liquid paint, not dried paint). This stuff is no-VOC, readily available, downside is I'd have to paint it on with a brush but honestly with a baby in the house I can't see myself ever getting the cans of spray paint out.

Given that these seems to be as many opinions as there are people on this issue, am I "just as right" as anyone else? Or would I be making a big mistake by going forward and using the Benjamin Moore?

PS - I suppose one potential downside of the Benjamin Moore is that I might have to prime the existing aluminum paint before - not sure how well it will stick otherwise. I could paint a small swatch and see if it takes.
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Comments

  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,516Member
    Both @Jamie and I have used plain latex paint with no ill effects, either visually with out-gassing. I did some of mine many years ago and they're still perfect. the main thing is to let it completely cure before heating season.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
    Unfortunately this is not a low-VOC paint. They don't provide the VOC content, but they do mention that it is "aromatic", which is probably their code word for "smells like a factory".
    vaporvac said:

    Both @Jamie and I have used plain latex paint with no ill effects, either visually with out-gassing. I did some of mine many years ago and they're still perfect. the main thing is to let it completely cure before heating season.

    This is the answer I was hoping to get. Confirmation bias is a powerful thing!
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    I know we all have different experiences, but the latex paint on my rads peels off all the time. It is absolutely horrible. I think the issue with latex is contact. As long as the rad never gets touch bumped brushed against when it's hot everything is fine, but in my house if you even look at it cross eyed while it's hot that paint is coming off and not just a little I have pulled off pieces of paint the size of my hand. As is said many times around here results may vary.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
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  • MarkSMarkS Posts: 75Member
    I used Rustoleum high temperature automotive paint. The off-gassing was pretty bad, but we were remodeling at the time and had lots of ventilation going. After a couple of days the smell was gone. Four years later, no smell, no peeling. YMMV.
    1890 near-vapor one pipe steam system | Operating pressure: 0.25 oz | 607 sf EDR
    Midco LNB-250 Modulating Gas Burner | EcoSteam ES-50 modulating controls | 70 to 300 MBH |
    3009 sf | 3 floors | 14 radiators | Utica SFE boiler | 4 mains, 135 ft | Gorton & B&J Big Mouth vents
  • vaporvacvaporvac Posts: 1,516Member
    Search this site. There was a lengthy discussion a couple of years ago. My rads were very clean before application with a well adhered initial coat and all old paint well sanded and primed. My luck wasn't so good when I skipped those two steps.
    Two-pipe Trane vaporvacuum system; 1466 edr
    Twinned, staged Slantfin TR50s piped into 4" header with Riello G400 burners; 240K lead, 200K lag Btus. Controlled by Taco Relay and Honeywell RTH6580WF
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    I painted all 13 of my radiators, 24 years ago with regular latex wall paint. Twenty-fours years later and 11 of them look like they did the day I painted them. Two of them not so much. Some peeling but not a disaster. I think a lot depends on what you paint over. if the old paint was oil based and had a sheen to it, latex paint will have some problems, heat or not.
  • jumperjumper Posts: 1,349Member
    Fred is correct. You may need deglazer or primer under latex. Or stripper if you're not a sissy.
  • FranklinDFranklinD Posts: 399Member
    I did 3 rads recently (2 years ago) with regular latex paint. They've held up very well. I got all the loose stuff off first, then ran some sandpaper over them to rough up the paint that was left, then used a hot dog type roller.

    The rad I acquired for my bathroom, I fully stripped in the garage, then primed and painted (sprayed) with Rustoleum brand rust preventer primer and a white 'high temp' enamel top coat. Two years in the high humidity of our bathroom and it still looks great.
    Ford Master Technician, "Tinkerer of Terror"
    Police & Fire Equipment Lead Mechanic, NW WI
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  • bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
    Ok thanks a lot for all of your input. I think I'll sand it down roughly, apply some primer (I'll use either Benjamin Moore multi-purpose or high-hiding primer, not sure which yet), and then try the acrylic paint.

    One of my steam pipes gets a lot of traffic (coats and things brush against it) and it hasn't had any wear at all - however, that could be because it has a couple layers of household grade paint below it. The radiators don't have household paint, they have that aluminum stuff, so it's not apples to apples.

    Wish me luck, I'll report back with results!
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    I often feel latex is even too soft for trim in a room. I'd never put the rubbery stuff on a radiator that gets hot.

    Personally, I couldn't care less about a VOC rating on a paint. The "low voc" Kilz Original primer I use all the time is one of the few paints I insist on using a respirator with. It's also one of the few primers I've had zero bond issues with and it covers stains as well.

    I'll be honest, thinking about using wall paint on a radiator or pipe makes me cringe.

    As has been said, we all have our opinions and I'm offering mine.

    P.S. Still waiting for someone to sand blast a radiator and then use multiple coats of vegetable oil on it. :)
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    ChrisJ said:


    P.S. Still waiting for someone to sand blast a radiator and then use multiple coats of vegetable oil on it. :)

    On steam trains the front of the boiler is often coated in a mixture of linseed oil and graphite chips. This gives that familiar grey color you often see on the front. It's good to inhibit corrosion and holds up to the heat well. I volunteer Chris's house for that experiment!
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    KC_Jones said:

    ChrisJ said:


    P.S. Still waiting for someone to sand blast a radiator and then use multiple coats of vegetable oil on it. :)

    On steam trains the front of the boiler is often coated in a mixture of linseed oil and graphite chips. This gives that familiar grey color you often see on the front. It's good to inhibit corrosion and holds up to the heat well. I volunteer Chris's house for that experiment!
    Gladly.
    As soon as you nickel plate yours as you said you were going to.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    I am only nickel plating valves not an entire radiator! Even I don't have enough patience to smooth out that much cast iron.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
    ChrisJ said:


    Personally, I couldn't care less about a VOC rating on a paint. The "low voc" Kilz Original primer I use all the time is one of the few paints I insist on using a respirator with. It's also one of the few primers I've had zero bond issues with and it covers stains as well.

    With a baby in the house this is a pretty important consideration for us.
  • Mark NMark N Posts: 1,066Member
    edited May 2015
    Last summer I removed all my radiators and had them sandblasted and powder coated. The results were amazing and well worth the effort. I did all the labor of removing and installing the rads. I took them to a powder coater out in Pennsylvania near Lititz. The price was very reasonable.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    We have a baby as well my point was low or no voc doesn't mean non poisonous
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
    ChrisJ said:

    We have a baby as well my point was low or no voc doesn't mean non poisonous

    Fair enough, I understand the whole VOC labeling thing is fraught, but Benjamin Moore paints more than pass muster whereas the primer you mentioned most decidedly does not (just look at the ingredients).
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    Benjamin Moore latex happens to be the paint I used on my radiators 20+ years ago.
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Posts: 4,070Member
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    I've been trying to convince the wife to let me paint all of ours flat black. I think I'm almost there.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Posts: 4,070Member
    Terra cotta would be an easier sell.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member

    Terra cotta would be an easier sell.

    Eeww, not to me.
    Besides, I think flat black is a better IR radiator, no?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
    ChrisJ said:

    Terra cotta would be an easier sell.

    Eeww, not to me.
    Besides, I think flat black is a better IR radiator, no?
    Black is a little too batman for a house, in my opinion. White would be better. We chose a grey to at least fake the "normal" radiator color a little bit.

    How would one terra cotta a radiator, anyway?
  • Charlie from wmassCharlie from wmass Posts: 4,070Member
    Terra cotta is a color not just a form of pottery. It has the highest output of heat.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.

    cell # 413-841-6726
    https://heatinghelp.com/find-a-contractor/detail/charles-garrity-plumbing-and-heating
  • bconstantbconstant Posts: 31Member
    Ok I did it. I roughly sanded the old paint to get all the rust and loose flakes off (used a shop vac and face mask - not sure if this old stuff has lead in it or not). I primed using Benjamin Moore Multi-Purpose Latex Primer, and then painted using Aura Matte.

    I ran the heat for about an hour a week later and saw no deleterious effects. But I'll try to remember to update this post this winter to let everyone know if this works (just in case someone finds this).

    Wish me luck!
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    bconstant said:

    Ok I did it. I roughly sanded the old paint to get all the rust and loose flakes off (used a shop vac and face mask - not sure if this old stuff has lead in it or not). I primed using Benjamin Moore Multi-Purpose Latex Primer, and then painted using Aura Matte.

    I ran the heat for about an hour a week later and saw no deleterious effects. But I'll try to remember to update this post this winter to let everyone know if this works (just in case someone finds this).

    Wish me luck!

    Good Luck! :)
  • eclarkeclark Posts: 33Member
    I've got a house full of radiators (mix of tube rads & sunrads) that need painting and I've been planning to get them blasted and powder coated, but that's mostly for four reasons:
    1) I don't know what kind of paint is presently on them (worried about adhesion)
    2) I don't know how I could clean all the dust & cobwebs out of the interior
    3) I don't know how I could ever really get the bits of rust (where the paint is already gone) "sanded" except with a wire wheel. Also I can't imagine how I'd sand the interior.
    4) I don't know how I could apply a new coat of paint that would coat the interior without over-applying on the nearer surfaces.

    For those who have painted, how have you dealt with these issues? Or am I making too much of something simple?

    I have two that are presently uninstalled (in the garage) while I'm working on some renovations in the rooms they belong in and was just thinking this morning that I should take them to the powder coater on this Friday. If I can get a good job done by doing it myself then I'll save the dough for sure.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    You can blow all the dust/cobwebs from the inner surfaces using compressed air. Most of us (depending on the style of the radiator) don't paint the inside of them. It's not visable (that's why they are dusty and full of cobwebs) Clearly powder coating them is a much more desirable finish but removing radiators, hauling them out, and reattaching them is a lot more work and then you hope none of the couplings leak. You need to make sure they go back in the same place they came out or the spuds may not mate properly.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    @KC_Jones is sending his radiators out to be nickel plated.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    lmao @ChrisJ That would look pretty cool, but it ain't gonna happen. I am exploring powder coating though. When I get one done I will let everyone see how it turns out.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
    https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10202744301871904.1073741828.1330391881&type=1&l=c34ad6ee78
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    How is powdercoating as far as how hard it is vs latex or oil based paints?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    Powder coating is much harder and much more durable than latex or oil based paints. Latex has much more expansion/contraction capacity and has worked very well on my radiators. The oil based paints seem more inclined to peel on hot radiators. Just my personal experience though.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    Fred said:

    Powder coating is much harder and much more durable than latex or oil based paints. Latex has much more expansion/contraction capacity and has worked very well on my radiators. The oil based paints seem more inclined to peel on hot radiators. Just my personal experience though.


    Typically my experience is latex is softer than oil, and oil gets harder and harder as it ages, pretty much it's downfall.

    My only experience with powder coating so far, is a set of fridge racks that someone powder coated silver. I'm having them sandblasted and painted as it's never going to hold up.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • eclarkeclark Posts: 33Member
    So regarding powdercoating, is it a bad thing that it's hard? As in the "hardness" means it can't expand and contract with the radiator through the heating and cooling cycles? And is the consensus that latex is the preferred paint? Does anyone have any experience with a latex acrylic? I've been using Sherwin-WIlliams paint lately but am not opposed to using Benjamin-Moore if that's a proven brand.
  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    I think everyone that have reported on powder coating their radiators have indicated great results. I don't think you can go wrong with a good powder coat job. Latex is a much lower cost (less labor intense also) alternative to powder coating. I wouldn't use Sherwin-Williams paint though. I prefer Benjamin Moore. I never had much luck with S-W. I definately would not use an oil based paint on them.
  • ChrisJChrisJ Posts: 9,890Member
    Fred said:

    I think everyone that have reported on powder coating their radiators have indicated great results. I don't think you can go wrong with a good powder coat job. Latex is a much lower cost (less labor intense also) alternative to powder coating. I wouldn't use Sherwin-Williams paint though. I prefer Benjamin Moore. I never had much luck with S-W. I definately would not use an oil based paint on them.

    I think the only thing on my radiators is a layer of gold oil based paint and then a layer of silver. I only know about the gold because I can see it on the very bottom of the radiator if you lay on the floor.

    I found your BM and SW comment funny. If you read enough forums, you'll see the same comments about every paint name out there. "I wouldn't use BM I'd use Behr" "I wouldn't use Behr I'd use SW" "I hate SW I only use Valspar". "Valspar is awful, I only use BM".

    After doing some painting my self and reading a ton online I've come to the conclusion that the brand doesn't matter, what matters is the proper preparation and that a good painter can make any brand work. I used Behr's top paint in my son's room ontop of Kilz original oil based primer on plaster and that bonded like nothing I've seen before. For our livingroom I'm using Valspar's better paint, but not their best stuff.



    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • KC_JonesKC_Jones Posts: 4,129Member
    @ChrisJ I agree with you about paint opinions, but it also depends on someones techniques and how they do things. I don't tape....ever. I cut everything in with a brush, I can do that faster and better than most people can tape. For me the flow of the paint is important, BIG TIME. For cutting in Valspar is horrid in my opinion. I have used SW some and it's ok, but the BM is by far what I have had the best luck with. I know people that love the Valspar, but their criteria is different than mine. Again we all have our opinions about paints. I actually prefer a thinner paint with more coats, I can control it better and typically speaking thinner paints smooth out better and leave fewer brush strokes. I learned to paint on wood boats and we used to have to paint the entire hull yearly. When done that hull looked like it had been sprayed, but was done entirely by brush. When you have that type of specification for a final product you get really picky about what you are using....really picky. It all boils down to personal preference like almost anything else.
    2014 Weil Mclain EG-40
    EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Boiler Control
    Boiler pictures updated 2/21/15
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  • FredFred Posts: 7,910Member
    I know! It's just personal preference. I'm a big BM fan but I had the exterior trim on my house painted last month. Took the painters 5 weeks to prep and paint and they swore by Behr. I told them I liked BM and they said Behr was so much better. I said OK and let them use Behr. I figured they have way more experience with paints than I do. It looks great and seems to bond well. We'll see how well it lasts.
  • RobGRobG Posts: 1,850Member
    Fred said:

    I know! It's just personal preference. I'm a big BM fan but I had the exterior trim on my house painted last month. Took the painters 5 weeks to prep and paint and they swore by Behr. I told them I liked BM and they said Behr was so much better. I said OK and let them use Behr. I figured they have way more experience with paints than I do. It looks great and seems to bond well. We'll see how well it lasts.

    As with alot of things in the construction trade, it all comes down to the almighty dollar. Who gives the best discount? Most people will swear by the company that gives them the best price and is relatively equal in quality.
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