What is the Best Way to Paint a Radiator?

Updated February 21, 2017

If you would like to apply a coat of paint to your radiator, you need to understand a couple of important points before you get started. First, because radiators are metallic, they are not conducive for paint adhesion. You must apply a specific type of primer that will abrade the radiator to promote adhesion. In addition, because radiators put off heat, you should choose a specific type of paint that is capable of withstanding high temperatures.

Ensure that the radiator is completely cool. Turn off the power leading to the radiator at the circuit breaker.

Scrub the radiator clean with soap using a coarse plastic brush. Rinse the radiator with damp rags, and allow the surface to dry out completely before continuing.

Cover areas adjacent to the radiator with painter's tape. Protect any portions of the radiator you do not want painted by covering them with tape. Protect flooring from paint with heavy-duty fabric drop cloths.

Apply galvanised metal etching primer to the radiator using a 2- to 3-inch latex paintbrush. Apply a light coat. Do not saturate the radiator with primer, or you may end up with drips, runs and sagging in the finish coat. Allow the etching primer to dry and cure for at least four hours.

Wash the brush with plain water.

Apply epoxy appliance paint to the radiator using the latex paintbrush. Apply in the same manner as you did the etching primer.

Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker. Allow the paint to cure for a full day before running the radiator.


Although the etching primer will dry in two hours, you should wait a total of four to give the coating an opportunity to cure.


Metallic radiators are not conducive to paint adhesion. Do not apply paint to metal without abrading it with an etching primer, first, or the finish will chip away.

Things You'll Need

  • Dish soap
  • Coarse plastic brush
  • Rags
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Heavy-duty fabric drop cloths
  • Galvanised metal etching primer
  • 2- to 3-inch latex paintbrush
  • Epoxy appliance paint
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.