Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

Painting steam heat risers

bowsaw22 Member Posts: 2
I'm prepping some steam radiators for paint, and have seen a lot of advice about paint type. Some folks swear by plain vanilla acrylic latex. Thing is, that's what I've painted our risers with over the years, and it eventually peels off the riser like bark from an English Plane tree. Any thoughts?


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,653
    Yes. And I swear by -- not plain vanilla, but top end -- acrylic latex (specifically, Benjamin Moore's Aura). However, there are three extra steps which I am somewhat fanatical about. First, wire brush the iron thoroughly -- tightly adhered rust is inevitable, but anything powdery of flaky has got to go. Then I wipe the surface down with denatured alcohol -- again, thoroughly. Then I put on a coat of Zinsser's B-I-N, which is a white shellac based primer which adheres very well to almost anything -- and to which almost anything else adheres.

    Then the top coat...

    Is it permanent? No. But I have radiators and risers which were done that way 20 or more years ago, and while they show some rust spots, there has been no flaking or peeling.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,716
    another thought,
    unless you're painting bare metals there,
    often it's not the paint you put on a year ago that's failing,
    it's the old oil paint that was put on 37 years ago that is letting go.
    I love taking the chip and looking at the old colors, way back then.
    Caution, LEAD .
    known to beat dead horses
  • bowsaw22
    bowsaw22 Member Posts: 2
    Jaime, I'm happy if I get 20 years out of anything! I'll give your protocol a shot. Neil, I had a sneaking suspicion that the peeling was due to old paint. Thanks!
  • gfrbrookline
    gfrbrookline Member Posts: 753
    I have had good luck with Benjamin Moore Aura, Behr premium and Glidden paints but you do need to scrap well if you are pealing so the paint has a solid surface to stick to.