How to Paint a Rusty Radiator: 9 Easy Steps

How to Paint a Rusty Radiator

Last Updated on May 18, 2021

Well, radiators are made from metals that can corrode and rust if the surface is exposed to harsh conditions. If the surface of a radiator starts to rust, the radiator might look scruffy, making a room look dull.

Painting a rusty radiator makes it easier for you to restore it to its original condition. However, you have to deal with the rust before you paint your radiator. Not to mention, there are tons of paints that you can use on your radiator.

In this article, we are going to show you how to paint a rusty radiator. Painting your radiators can be an enjoyable DIY project.

Step by Step Guide on How to Paint a Rusty Radiator

Step 1: Let the Radiator Cool Off

The first thing that you need to do is to turn off the radiator. Most radiators come with a valve that makes it easier for you to turn off the whole unit. Not to mention, you can turn off the central heating system.

Once you turn off the radiator, leave it for a certain period until it cools off. Working on a hot radiator can be quite hectic. Not to mention, the paint might not adhere properly to the surface of a hot radiator. You should only paint a radiator when it’s cool.

Step 2: Clean the Surface of the Radiator

To get the best results, you have to clean the surface of the radiator and get rid of all the dirt particles that are on the surface of the radiator. Grime and dust particles might interfere with the adhesion of the paint to the metal surface of the radiator.

Dip a dry cloth into soapy water, then wipe the surface of the radiator. Make sure that you also wipe the hard-to-reach sections of the radiator with the damp cloth. Once you finish cleaning the radiator, use a clean and dry cloth to dry the surface of the radiator.

Step 3: Prep the Surface That You Are Working On

Since painting a radiator can be a messy task, you have to remove some of the objects that might get in your way while painting. Alternatively, you can also cover such objects with a protective sheet that will stop paint from falling on the surface of those objects. For instance, if you use spray paint that covers a large radius, such sheets will protect your furniture from stains. You should also protect your wall.

After that, place a dust sheet under the radiator. A dust sheet protects your floor as you are painting your radiator. Not to mention, it collects some of the radiator paint chippings that might fall on the floor while you are sanding the metal surface. Protect the valves of the radiators using masking tape. Leave the windows open to get a well-ventilated room, making sure that there is enough air circulation.

Step 4: Sand the Radiator to Get Rid Of Rust Spots

Once you finish preparing the surface that you will be working on, you have to scrape off paint from your radiator to clear the radiator overcoat. Fine-grit sandpaper can help you get rid of any rust that might be on the surface of the radiator. Just place the sandpaper on the rusty surface, then sand it lightly to get rid of the rust.

While sandpaper might help you get rid of the radiator rust, it consumes a lot of time. Sandpapers might be suitable for you if your radiator has small rust spots.

On the other hand, if your radiator has tons of rusty spots, you can use an angle grinder.

Since an angle grinder works automatically, it can save you time while working on the surface of your radiator.

However, you have to choose a soft grinder disc that will not ruin the surface of the radiator. For instance, you can use discs with nylon webbing to get rid of paint and rust from your radiator.

Once you choose the disc that you are going to use, connect it to the angle grinder. If you are using a corded angle grinder, connect it to a power source. On the other hand, if you have a cordless angle grinder, insert a fully charged battery into the main unit.

Once the angle grinder is connected to a power source, place it on the surface of the radiator, then press the trigger. The disc will start rotating. Move the angle grinder on the surface of the radiator to get rid of the rust. Make sure that you move the disc on those hard-to-reach spots.

Step 5: Clean the Surface of the Radiator Again

Clean the surface of the radiator to get rid of the paint chippings and the rusted metal bits that might be on the surface of the radiator.

Start by vacuuming the dirt particles on the radiator, then clean the radiator’s surface with a damp cloth that has been dipped in soapy water.

Afterwards, dry the surface of the radiator with a clean and dry cloth.

Step 6: Paint Your Radiator

While you can go for a colour that blends smoothly with the interior decor of your home, you can also get creative and use a colour that stands out from the rest of the colours in your house.

Before you start this radiator-painting procedure, you have to check whether the surface of the radiator is dry or not. If it is dry, you can start painting it.

Do not use ordinary paint on the surface of the radiator. Ordinary paint can wear off quickly. Paints that are suitable for different surfaces have different properties. In this DIY project, you have to use heat-resistant paint. You can also apply radiator gloss paint on the radiator.

The components/ingredients of the radiator paint might separate if it is stored for a long time. Due to this, you have to use a stirrer to mix all the ingredients of the radiator paint. It also makes it easier for you to achieve an even colour.

Dip your painting brush in the metal primer/ specialist radiator primer and apply it to the surface of the radiator. Move the brush from the top part of the radiator to the bottom part of the radiator as you move from one fin to another. Once you finish painting the fins and tubes, apply the metal primer paint on the two side edges of the radiator.

After that, apply some specialist radiator primer paint on the top edge and the bottom edge of the radiator. Move the brush along the edges of the radiator. Move it in long sweeping strokes to get effective results.

Step 7: Brush or Roller?

While a roller might be a suitable tool for painting some radiators, it is not effective in painting tight spaces and spots. With this in mind, if you choose to use a roller, you will still need a brush to complete certain areas.

You can also use spray paint to paint the surface of your radiator. However, spray paints can give you a hard time as you are painting. To paint effectively with spray paint, you have to detach the radiator from the wall. Not to mention, spray paints can be quite messy and stain objects that are far away from the radiator.

Step 8: How Many Coats?

The surface of a radiator requires two coats of paint. However, you should let the first coat of paint dry off completely before you continue painting your radiator.

Once the first coat of paint dries off, check whether the surface is even or not. If you notice any irregularities like bumps, use a piece of sandpaper to get rid of them.

Apply the second coat of anti-corrosive /heat resistant paint on the surface of the radiator, following the same motion that you had used earlier on. Just move the brush from the top part of the radiator to the bottom part as you move from one fin to another. You can also apply three coats of paint, depending on your preferences. Such coats give you better results.

You can also use radiator gloss to get a finer finish. You should choose a radiator gloss that has heat-resistant properties.

Step 9: Wait for the Fresh Paint to Dry

Once you finish painting the fins, tubes, and edges, let the specially formulated fresh paint dry off completely.

The fresh paint on the surface of a radiator might take at least 24 hours to dry completely. If you turn on the radiator when the paint has not dried off completely, you might get an uneven finish.

Paint Your Radiator

While painting a radiator might seem challenging, it is an easy DIY project. Make sure that you get rid of all the rusty spots that might be on the surface of the radiator before you begin this process. Once you get rid of the rusty spots, apply a primer on the surface of the radiator. Cover the primer with another coat of corrosion-resistant paint. Now you know how to paint a rusty radiator, there is no reasonable excuse to leave your radiators unkempt ever again.

Did you find this article helpful? Do you have other tips you’d like to share when painting a rusty radiator? Let us know in the comments!

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