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How-To: Paint Your Cast-Iron Radiator

Now that it's Summer, and you're not likely to be heating your home much, it's a good time to make sure your radiator is looking sharp. If you have a cast-iron radiator in an older home, it may be plagued with chipping paint, or maybe you'd like to freshen it up or make it blend into your walls with some color. In any case, it'll take you just a few hours and some elbow grease to give it a paint job that's worthy of your stylish crib. To learn how,


  1. Some of you may have an unpainted radiator or a finish that's in good shape, but if the paint is chipping, you'll need to remove it all before you give it a new finish. Unless you're prepared to remove your hefty radiator to sandblast it (or have it sandblasted professionally), you'll need to sand and scrape it the old-fashioned way: with a piece of sandpaper, a lot of elbow grease, and maybe even a putty knife. If you have an old radiator, the paint may contain lead, in which case, you do not want to sand because this would release lead into the air. Instead, use an eco-friendly paint stripper like SoyGel, 100 percent biodegradable and made from soybeans, which will encapsulate the lead in the gel, preventing airborne lead particles and allowing for safe and easy disposal.
  2. The next step (or first, if you didn't need to sand) is just to clean all of the dust and dirt off of the radiator with a damp cotton rag.
  3. Then, sand the radiator to create a rough surface for the paint to hold onto.
  4. Open your windows and doors and make sure the area is well-ventilated.
  5. Saturate a rag in Wil-Bond Deglosser and wipe down your radiator. This removes oils and cuts gloss so that the new finish will go on smoothly, bond tightly, and last longer.
  6. Now, it's prime time! If your radiator has never been painted, prepare it for painting with a bare metal primer. If not, use an ordinary oil-based primer.
  7. Here comes the fun part. Lay down some newspaper to protect your floors. Paint on your finish top coat, using any oil-based interior paint and a brush meant for oil-based paint. This paint will be heat-resistant and durable. If you choose to, you can also use spray paint, but you'll want a high-temperature aerosol paint and you'll need to mask off the surrounding area to protect your floors and walls.
  8. Let it dry, and if it seems to need a second coat, go ahead. Fini!

Go here to see some creatively painted radiators!

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slk98 slk98 3 years
Can you tell me what color paint is used here?
oneprettything oneprettything 7 years
This is great! I love the bold color. I'll be linking to this in next week's Revamp Roundup.
cestmoi cestmoi 7 years
Would love to do this but seems like it would take FOREVER to get into all the little crevices. I guess you just need to sand out the main spots. And I like the idea of spray paint - lots of fun colors & textures to choose from.
AKO-Shops AKO-Shops 7 years
This a great way to freshen up the "crib". Its easy and almost fun, after the results.
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