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Steam Radiator Paint

tkos115 Member Posts: 94
I was wondering what you folks would recommend for paint for steam radiators. Being it's in the off season for heating I would like to clean up and paint my steam radiators.

Question 1 would be do I need a primer, and what would be the best kind of paint to go with. I assume a primer/paint that is rated for at least 200F degrees? Any brands or types that anyone has good luck with?

Question 2 would be in terms of cleaning them. I have a good pressure washer with a sandblasting setup that I was thinking about using unless for some reason that would be bad to use on them.

For the most part they are bare metal still but have paint runs and blotches from years of people trying to paint around them before I moved into this house. Some have some light rusting but nothing more than the usual patina they get.

Thanks for your time and help all!


  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 4,004
    edited June 2021
    Here's an article Dan Holohan wrote about it:


    You can also search for "painting radiators" above. There are lots of discussions.
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • dopey27177
    dopey27177 Member Posts: 887
    If paint the radiators silver or gold paint will cut down the heat transference from the radiator.
    Flat paints not enamel paints are the best type of paint to use. When you buy the paint make sure the paint is good for high heat.

    Before painting make sure all the old paint is off the radiators.

  • Hap_Hazzard
    Hap_Hazzard Member Posts: 2,846
    Sandblasting with a pressure washer should do the trick, but do it on a hot, sunny day and blow the water away with an air compressor before you get surface rust.

    When it comes to paint, I'm partial to Rust Oleum High Heat paint. https://www.rustoleum.com/product-catalog/consumer-brands/specialty/high-heat-spray/ It comes in white, almond, black green and silver, but silver will reduce the EDR by a small amount. It's good up to 1200°F and no primer is required.

    Don't use the Rust Oleum Ultra High Heat or the Automotive High Heat paints. They give off an unpleasant odor when heated.
    Just another DIYer | King of Prussia, PA
    1983(?) Peerless G-561-W-S | 3" drop header, CG400-1090, VXT-24
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,310
    Being terminally lazy... I agree with @Hap_Hazzard up to a point -- it's essential to get as much of the loose rust of as possible. But... I've not found it essential to get it pristine. In most cases I've had very good luck with vigorous wire brushing and then I use a very high quality acrylic wall paint: specifically Benjamin Moore's Aqua, but Sherwin Williams has one which also works. In a satin or eggshell type finish. The advantage is that I can use the same paint as is used on the walls of the space, if I want to.

    I have radiators done almost 20 years ago that way, and they're fine.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    ethicalpaulAlan (California Radiant) Forbes