How to Safely Paint a Radiator

ECOS 04/15/2024

Radiators can appear to be quite the challenge to paint. They're full of hidden crevices, have very little flat surface area, and look like they'd destroy a paintbrush. Have you recently renovated an entire room, but the radiator is still unpainted? Are you left scratching your head not knowing the right way to paint it? We have good news. Radiators really aren't that hard to paint, and it doesn't even take very long! Today we have some tips and tricks for you to learn how to safely paint a radiator.

#1 Don’t Use Spray Paint

We're putting this first because so many people assume that spray paint is what they should use. We don't recommend spray paints because of the finely atomized paint, binder, pigment, and solvents that you put in the air when using them. For anyone with chemical sensitivities or asthma or kids, we think these paints should be avoided at all costs.

#2 Be Aware of Lead

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says that you should assume that any paint older than 1978 has lead in it, which requires professional remediation if it is disturbed. If in doubt, consult with a professional from a Lead-Safe Certified Firm or purchase a Lead-Test Kit from your local retailer.

#3 Prepare the Surface

Surfaces should be cold, clean, dry and free from rust, grease and polish residues. If in doubt, clean with mild detergent and Scotchbrite® scouring pad. Rinse and dry thoroughly. All bare metal should be primed with two thin coats of ECOS Paints Universal Primer (it's stain blocking and is formulated to adhere to many different surfaces including metal).

#4 Apply a Safe Radiator Paint

According to the non-profit MCS-Aware, "the coatings on modern radiators often emit formaldehyde when heated; they can be the single largest source of formaldehyde in the home." The special silicate ingredient in ECOS Anti-Formaldehyde Radiator paint absorbs approximately 98-99% formaldehyde down to around 1ppm before it can off-gas into your home or office. To apply, stir gently and thoroughly before and during use (do not thin). When brushing use a nylon, polyester, or synthetic blended brush. You could also try a Painter’s Mitt to apply the paint to the radiator. This product looks like a baseball mitt covered with a fuzzy material that slips over your hand. It has a plastic liner, so your hand doesn’t get covered in paint, and it allows you to apply the paint in all those little crevices simply by rubbing your hand over them. With a little bit of practice, this mitt works wonderfully for this job. It's also cleanable and reusable so keep it for future projects like painting stairway banisters and pipes.

Always maintain a wet edge to minimize lapping. Work progressively along the radiator. Do not over-brush, or dry-brush, and do not layoff. Do not go back over painted areas. Paint only onto cold radiators - do not force-dry. Radiators can be put back into service only when the paint film is dry (it's normally touch dry in 1-2 hours). Allow at least 8 hours between coats. Best results are normally achieved with two medium coats. Avoid use below 41°F (5°C) or above 77°F (25°C).

#5 Over-coat

If a colored finish is desired, finish with ECOS Semi-gloss or Feng Shui Paint. Need some inspiration?

Check out these creatively painted radiators: Follow ECOS Paints' board Painted Radiators on Pinterest.

Still have questions about painting radiators? Go ahead and leave them in the comments below. Our painting experts are always available to answer any questions.

CATEGORIES Tips & Tricks