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How to Paint an Old Radiator

HeatingHelp Administrator Posts: 586
edited August 2017 in THE MAIN WALL
How to Paint an Old Radiator

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  • edwardstaley
    edwardstaley Member Posts: 1
    I've got some old hot water base board radiators. Sandblasting is not realistic for me, so I will be simply painting over the old coatings. I've sanded them down pretty smooth and some of the metal is now exposed, but most of the surface is still old paint. What type of primer and paint (oil, water, etc.) would be best in this situation? Thanks so much in advance for anyone who responds :)
  • Erin Holohan Haskell
    Erin Holohan Haskell Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 2,017
    We painted ours with Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo. Here's the article: https://heatinghelp.com/systems-help-center/how-do-you-paint-cast-iron-baseboard-radiators/
  • flat_twin
    flat_twin Member Posts: 335
    We used battleship gray rustoleum enamel spray paint. The original paint was gray so we stayed with it. There was a bit of paint smell when the heat was turned on but it went away after a few weeks.
    The only prep was a wire brush and a wipe down with paint thinner to remove anything that would prevent the paint from sticking. Still looks good after 8 years.

  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,810
    I do the same as @Erin Holohan Haskell said, only nowadays I'm using Benjamin Moore Aqua, and the related primer -- I forget what they call it and it's late and I'm not going to the paint room to find it!
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • 1Matthias
    1Matthias Member Posts: 148
    I usually haul the radiator outside and use a pressure washer with a turbo tip to get 99% of the old paint off. This is followed with spray paint stripper on what's left, then the pressure washer again. I let that radiator dry off, and move to the next one (Or use an air compressor to blow it off if it's the only one that needs to be done.) The paint I use is just spray high-heat paint, either rust-oleum, or high-heat stove paint. Turns out well, holds up, and no funny smells past the first firing. Hardest part is getting all the paint out of the nooks and crannies.
  • Ray_Frechette
    Ray_Frechette Member Posts: 27
    Hmm, not a single comment to check the radiator for lead paint first. That scares me much more than offgassing. Ever see those little artificial sweetener packets at the restaurant for your coffee? Open one up and pour the contents on the edge of your tanle. Look at it. Pretty small pile right? Now evenly distribute that powder throughout your entire house. That is thw amount ofnlwad paint contamination that require professional cleanup and isnenough to lead poison a child up to 5 years old.

    If the radiator has lead based paint do not try to do amything to it yourself, not even remove it.

    Have it removed and stripped by peopel who know what they are doing. I know how tonremove them safwly myself and personally I would be taking them to the dump. The cost to strip them properly would be more than I would be willing to pay. But then again I am pretty cheqp....
  • KiwiFella
    KiwiFella Member Posts: 7
    I understand that powder coating reduces the heat output of the radiator, as powder coating is apparently a form of plastic.
    Im no bright kid about this and would like to know for sure, if this is the case or if any research has been done on it.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 20,810
    Permit me to add some thoughts to @Ray Frechette ''s comment -- from the standpoint of someone who has dealt a good bit with hazardous materials and waste over the years.

    The lead paint, if tightly adhered to the radiator, is not a hazard except in two scenarios: first, if some decides to eat any chips of it which may fall off, it's a problem. Second if someone decides to power sand or wire brush it, the dust is definietely a hazard.

    Bottom line -- so far as health hazard goes, ensure there are not loose chips and don't sand or wire brush the stuff.

    Now. Having said that, the real hazard is if the authorities find that you are working on something which might have lead paint (which could be a radiator -- or could be sanding or scraping the trim on your house prior to painting) without the proper permit and license and training and hazmat gear. The resulting fines for ignoring the majesty of the EPA can be staggering, and put you right out of business. A word to the wise.

    On the effect of multiple layers of paint on a radiator. Paint of most kinds is a very good conductor of heat. Much of the output of a radiator is convective, but some is radiative. The convective output will be only slightly affected by the paint. The radiative output, however, can be significantly affected, depending on the emissivity of the paint. The place where this becomes a concern is if the paint has low emissivity -- such as any metallic colour. Otherwise, the effect is small.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Smedly
    Smedly Member Posts: 1
    More comments for @Ray_Frescette:
    1. Do not take old radiators to the dump! These are irreplaceable historic items. Restoration enthusiasts will buy them. At a minimum donate them to your local reuse center.
    2. Lead paint was not typically used on radiators. To settle any concerns, buy a lead test kit in the hardware store and test the radiator paint.