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Is powder coating safe for my steam radiators?

MountainSteam Member Posts: 20
I contacted two powder cost outfits in my area.

One of them said "I’m sorry we cannot powder coat older radiators like yours. The 400 degree heat of our ovens destroys the internal seals"

The other said "I can do this hand have done hundreds" I shared pictures with this painter and he confirmed he could do it and gave me a price.

On this website, I've seen one comment about paper gaskets and keeping the temperature below 400F. My painter says his powder coating will go above 400F but does not see it as a problem.

Here is a typical radiator in my house, which is about 90 years old:

Should I be worried about paper gaskets? Should I trust my painter? Or should I take some precautions?


  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 844
    Dont powder coat. That's overkill. Just paint it. Good primer and good paint. Take it to a body shop. Have it sprayed. Or you could paint it with a brush.
  • ttekushan_3
    ttekushan_3 Member Posts: 958
    They’ll powder coat just fine. If Gerry Gill is within earshot I know he’s had this done for clients many times.

    They can looks quite stunning when they’re done. Very crisp and clean looking.

    As is always the case preparation is of Utmost importance. If you blast them, then yes a paint shop can do a great job also. I’ve used genuine linseed paints and varnishes (the good stuff from Sweden) to great effect. Plus they don’t rust when located in a bathroom. But you have to start with a paint-free radiator.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,430
    As @psb75 says, skip the powder coat. It's overkill. Take a wire brush to it, put on a good primer, then paint it with a quality acrylic (I use Benjamin Moore's Aura).

    That radiator, though, doesn't have paper gaskets. Or any other kind of gasket. The seal between sections is made with carefully machined tapered nipples which seal in equally carefully machined tapered openings in the sections. The whole thing is pulled together -- pipe clamps work wonders -- and the four tension rods keep it that way. Don't mess with them, either, unless one is definitely loose. They are meant to be just a bit beyond finger tight when the radiator is cold.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Big Ed_4
    Big Ed_4 Member Posts: 2,805
    There are no paper gaskets or rubber seals on your radiator

    There was an error rendering this rich post.

  • MountainSteam
    MountainSteam Member Posts: 20
    Thank you all for your replies. It's good to know I have the option to powder coat my radiators.
    I'm not sure I have the time or patience to wire brush all the coats of ancient paint flaking on these radiators, so taking them to a place that can sandblast and powder coat them is appealing and allows me to work on the many other fixes in this old house.
    Still, I may try wire brush and paint on some of them and see how it looks.
  • psb75
    psb75 Member Posts: 844
    Powder coating is an elaborate process--with oven etc., well beyond sandblast and spray paint. I had the latter done to 20 radiators last year by a farmer with an equipment shed and skid-steer, and all the tools, across the road. I bought the sand and paint. He was glad for the off-season work and the income.
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
    For any soda or sandblasting and powder coating paint, you want to protect any threads on the rad spuds.
    Especially the face of the spuds and the threads of the union nut.

    If you have to change any supply valves IIWM, I would remove the old spud now and screw in a plug.