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Painting a Radiator

How to Paint a Radiator

Giving a radiator a fresh coat of paint is a great way to bring a fresh new look to your home and it's far more affordable than buying and installing a brand-new designer radiator.

Radiator paint also comes in a wide array of colours. This means you can have your radiator tied into your current decor with ease. That old cast iron radiator can turn from being an eye sore to an attractive feature in your room.

If you are looking to learn how to paint a radiator, you are in the right place. Read on and learn everything you need to know about this fun DIY task.

Steps to Paint a Radiator

Here is our step-by-step guide to turning that old, tired radiator into something visually appealing and on-trend.

Turn off the Heating and Ventilate the Room

While this first step might be a little obvious, it is easily overlooked when you are really keen to start, so we will cover it anyway.

Make sure you turn your heating off and wait until your radiator is stone cold before starting. You also want to ventilate your room properly to ensure that the room isn't too hot either.

If you start too soon your paint can appear a little drippy leaving a poor finish. And also ensure your room is well-ventilated when you begin to paint.

Clean the Radiator

Now move on to cleaning the radiator. For this task, we recommend our cleaning agent Maalipesu. This will remove any potential contaminants and ensure your radiator is pristine and ready to be painted.


Next, you will want to sand it down using sandpaper. Start with a 60-grit, and then move down to a finer sandpaper around 120-grit to smooth it out. The goal here is to remove any loose lumps or flaking paint, rust, and anything else that will make your coat of paint uneven.

After you have finished sanding your radiator wipe it down again to remove any residue. You can use a damp cloth and warm water. Just make sure it is dry completely before moving on.


Now it's time to prime your radiator with an even coat. This will create a fresh surface for your paint to bond to. It's a quick thing to do that will ensure you get the best results possible. It will also stop new and prior rust spots from appearing with anti-corrosive properties and protect against future rust problems. If your radiator is bare, or your pipes are bare, then this is an absolute must. 

You have a choice of a few primers for your radiator. Our Otex Akva is a solid all-rounder and is perfect for a radiator. However, if you have had problems with rust before you will be better served by Rostex Super Metal Primer. This is an anti-corrosive primer made specifically for this purpose.


Apply your paint now, taking care to ensure a nice even coat all over. Make sure to paint in the same direction as any grooves and avoid 'overloading' your paint brush, which just means having too much paint on it; which results in dripping and lumps.

After your first coat is completely dry you can give it a second coat. Relax and wait until the paint is dry. Make sure you leave a full 24 hours for the paint to dry completely before you turn your radiator on again.

You have quite a few choices of paint depending on the finish you are looking for.

First, you have our Everal Aqua collection. It is a water-based acrylic paint that comes in three sheen levels which are:

These come in a wide spectrum of colours to suit any taste.

Alternatively, we have our premium Helmi collection. This is another water-based acrylic paint that will work well on radiators and comes in a selection of paint sheen levels. Your options are:

These standard Helmi options are designed to work on radiators and come in our vast array of colours. We also have a specialist Helmi Radiator Paint is specially formulated for radiators but is only available in one off-white shade.

As all of these paints are water-based, they give off far less toxic fumes than solvent-based paints.

Tools Required

  • Paint roller
  • Paint tray
  • Cleaning Agent: Maalipesu
  • Primer: Otex Akva
  • Radiator Paint: Helmi or Evaral Aqua
  • Paintbrush
  • Sandpaper

Products Used

Can I Paint my Radiator Pipes?

Yes, there is no problem at all with painting your radiator pipes. This can be a quick and easy way to hide unsightly brassware. As since you have already bought heat-resistant paint for your radiator, it is very likely you have more than enough left over to paint your pipework.

To paint your radiator pipes follow the same method outlined above for how to paint a radiator.

Do I have to Remove my Radiator before Painting?

You don't need to remove your radiator from the wall before painting. It is possible to do it this way but it will add extra steps to the process and who really looks behind a radiator anyway.

There are specialist angled radiator brushes or rollers you can get which can reach these hard-to-reach areas with the same smooth finish.

Paint Calculator

How much paint do I need? 

Use this calculator to work out your requirements, if you have any question please get in touch with one of our team who will be more than willing to help you.

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Disclaimer: Tikkurila UK Paint Calculator is provided as a guide only. The coverage rates will vary depending on surface being coated and the particular product range being used. More information on these products can be found on the cans, on the technical data sheets on individual product pages, by using our live chat service or by calling our technical team on 0131 334 4999.

Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the estimate, however paint requirements may vary depending on the surface, type of paint, sheen level and colour chosen.