I had to learn how to paint a radiator after moving house recently. The previous home owners had slapped on the most eye-wateringly awful brick-red radiator paint. It’s been like living with a dried blood eyesore slap bang in the middle of our living room ever since. The crappy paint job doesn’t help much either. It’s quite a large radiator, it’s very visible and it’s been driving me nuts since the day we moved in. I’ve been itching to finish other projects so I could get stuck in and just get it painted!
As it’s half-term I’ve finally had time this week to get my nightmare radiator painted.
I’ve been a DIY painter since my dad let me (made me) decorate my own bedroom when I was about 16. Since then I’ve decorated and up-cycled a lot, but painting a radiator isn’t quite the same as painting walls or furniture.
There was nothing wrong with the old radiator, so there was no way I was going to shell out for a new one – it was time for a tin of radiator paint and a spot of good old-fashioned elbow grease. But – I’ve seen some botched radiator paint jobs, with bubbling, cracked paint and I didn’t fancy the stress or cost of getting this project wrong. So I needed to do some (very) dull but necessary preparation work.
Before diving into the tin of paint and getting busy with my paint brush (which I was itching to do) here’s what I did:
Apparently you can use normal emulsion paint on radiators, but it goes yellow over time and I’d need to buy a clear radiator overcoat to apply on top of the emulsion, to protect the paint.
Frankly, it all sounded like a lot of effort!
Radiator Spray Paint was an option but I’m not a fan of spray paint or the mess it can make!
I should mention that my builder friend did recommend applying a coat of primer before the top coat, but that it wasn’t 100% necessary if there was no rust on the radiator.
Before getting started, I opened the windows because paint fumes can be dangerous and they’re pretty stinky too.
Before opening the paint tin, I double-checked the lid was on firmly then gave it a good shake. I used an old flat-headed screwdriver to gently prise the lid off the tin, then stirred the paint well with an old pencil.
The actual painting bit was pretty easy as it’s just like painting a wall. I could almost hear my Dad’s voice in my head saying ‘don’t apply the paint too generously as you’ll end up with paint runs’ and ‘remember to keep a wet edge going’. Dad – you’ll be pleased to hear that I followed those long ago lessons! I painted the top and bottom of the radiator first, before tackling the ‘twiddly’ bits.
I do wish I’d bought an angled brush though for those hard to reach bits – they were more than a bit challenging with my bog-standard brush…
Unfortunately I didn’t get away with one coat of paint. The original colour showed through the first 2 coats and I ended up needing 3 coats altogether! I had to leave 24 hours between each coat so the whole process took 3 days.
I’m glad I learned how to paint a radiator. The old one looks as good as new now and the room looks so different. Tackling this project myself saved me a small fortune too.
The biggest challenge by far was persuading my two fur babies not to ‘investigate’ and ‘assist’ while I was painting. It’s a pure miracle that I don’t have a furry radiator and two cats with white highlights in their fur!!
I’m Coralie, a Harrogate based blogger and mum to the reluctant teen. A crafting and upcycling addict, lover of outdoor life, juicing and gin. I’m never far from a cup of tea…