How to Paint Your Radiator | Super Easy Guide To Painting Your Radiator

How to Paint Your Radiator | Super Easy Guide To Painting Your Radiator

How Do I Paint My Radiators?

This is a question we’re asked regularly so as we had a couple of radiators to paint in our office I thought this was a great time to talk you though the steps, the best products for the job and hopefully provide some inspiration to get you all updating your radiators! 

The first question to ask is which product to use...hang in with me here as so many of our products are suitable so I have made a process flow. Basically it narrows it down but you still end up with a choice at the end of it so here are my personal tips on choice!

Already know how to paint your radiators, see our full range of radiator paints at Decorating Centre Online.


Product Options for Painting Your Radiator

Zinsser All Coat Paint: 

If you follow our social media you’ll know of my huge love for Zinsser All Coat.

As the name suggests it’s a paint suitable for painting pretty much anything interior or exterior and it has the benefit of being self priming. Regardless of your choice on finish (Gloss, Satin or Matt) it’s a tough and durable coating with a Class 1 scrub rating (AKA it’s the most scrubbable you can get!).

I love the All Coat as its available in 1L sizes, is tintable to any colour and if you have any left over you can get creative with it – painting plant pots, plastic/metal picture frames etc. It is, however, all singing and all dancing and sometimes if you’re going to be using the paint on only one project you don’t need to go to the cost of the All Coat.

Hardwearing Acrylic Eggshell/Fast Drying Satin/Fast Drying Gloss/Aqua Satin/Aqua Gloss (Water-Based):

If you’re painting your skirting boards, architrave, doors and radiators in the room the same colour then you may opt for the Leyland trim products.

The price per litre is cheaper than the All Coat as its not as highly specialised. Its still a tough and durable range of products (the Hardwearing Acrylic Eggshell also has its class 1 scrub rating) but they do require a water based undercoat application first before use.

If the radiator hasn’t been prepped for decorating previously I would personally go with the Leyland Trade Acrylic Primer Undercoat so that you can prime and undercoat with the same product. (Priming is incredibly important if the radiator is bare!). This product is perfect for priming your radiators and is great value for money considering the high quality results it produces.

High Gloss/Eggshell (Oil-Based): 

I would only opt for these products if your radiator has previously been painted with a solvent based product as this will save the need to apply a water based undercoat before starting.

Solvent based products yellow quickly as they don’t contain the VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) they used to that kept them white.

On a radiator as it emits heat, the yellowing process is incredibly quick so if you’re wanting white radiators and they’re currently painted with solvent based product I would make the switch to water based product here and take the added step of applying the water based undercoat first, that extra step will be worth it!

We'd recommend the Dulux Trade Oil-Based Eggshell or Dulux Trade High Gloss. The are extremely popular with professional decorators and are seen as the market leading oil based trim paints.

Can You Paint Radiators with Emulsion Paint?

It is possible to paint your radiators with standard emulsion, however, we would recommend against it. A normal emulsion won't have the same durability and heat resistant properties of more suitable radiator paints like Zinsser Allcoat.

The will also definitely require priming to adhere to metal radiators which is an added cost and are still more likely to flake and peel over time. What we are saying is, don't risk it and pick one of the above paints to get the best quality, longest lasting paints!

Product Selected, Now Let's Paint! 

So hopefully I haven’t lost you all with the above, we’ve selected our product and we’re ready to paint! I actually painted our office radiator so I had some step by step videos. If you prefer to watch a video on the radiator painting process please see our How to Paint a Radiator YouTube Video.

We recently had all of our woodwork painted with a deep almost black shade so I thought updating the radiator to match was needed.

We used the All Coat on our windows project (for a number of reasons I won’t delve into here...lets save that for another blog post!) so I’m using up the leftovers here.

Step 1: 

Clean your radiator. I used the Zinsser Universal Degreaser to make sure anything lingering on the radiator was gone. Once clean I then washed it over again with a spray cleaner to remove any degreaser left behind. I also taped up and protected the area with the Tape and Drape.


Step 2: 

Give the radiator a sand down. This doesn’t need to be a massive task requiring a load of elbow grease, its basically to give your radiator a ‘key’ which effectively is a bit of texture for your paint to bond to.


Step 3:

I use a tack cloth to clear up any dust left behind from the sanding step! (No pic of this step sorry, but the tack cloth is folded so you can use each fold until it is saturated with dust and you can then open up the next fold. Using the tack cloth in this way will mean you get significantly more use from it!)

Step 4:

Paint! So here I chose to treat myself to an Ice Fusion brush. I took a picture to show you guys the comparison between the ProDec Synthetic Brush and the ProDec Ice Fusion.

I would only invest in something like the Ice Fusion if you plan on looking after your brush and if you have a fair few decorating projects ahead of you but if you can see from the picture the bristles don’t fray and this is great to help with cutting in and achieving a neat finish.

When applying your paint don’t try and apply it too thickly, this is where you end up with very visible brush marks! You’re better off applying 3 thinner coats than 2 thick coats for a neater, high quality finish.


Step 5:

After your coat has had the appropriate dry time give the radiator a light sand and then go in with your next coat!




...and it looks so good! Did you give this a go on your radiator? I’d love to see how you got on so please share your updates with me on Instagram!

We used Zinsser Allcoat Satin Black to paint the radiator and we think it looks great!

We hope our simple guide on how to paint your radiators has helped you. If you require any further assistance or have any questions please don't hesitate to contact our expert customer experience team.

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