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How To Paint A Radiator

Painting a radiator isn’t like painting any other fixture in your home. It takes a little bit more time and a lot more preparation.

Following this simple step by step guide will help prevent air bubbles and irregularities in your finished look. Whether you want to make your radiator a feature of your room or blend it in to the background, with this guide and our host of radiator friendly paint you have everything you need for the perfect paint job. 

Shop a wide of colour and finishes at The Paint Shed, find options from Dulux Trade, Johnstone Trade, Coo-Var and more. Here is our guide to paint your radiator like a professional.

Project checklist

Turn off the radiator

This may seem to be somewhat obvious, but believe it or not some people will try to paint over a hot radiator. So just be safe, make sure it’s definitely off. Painting on a warm radiator will lead to blistering and dripping, so it is best to wait until it is completely cooled down before you begin painting.

Lay down a dust sheet to prevent damage from drips

Before starting lay down a dust sheet around the radiator. Make sure its the ‘paint-proof’ type of dust sheet. This will prevent any paint splashes from ruining your floors, skirting board or carpet. Placing card or a slide paper between the radiator and the wall will also help protect your wall paint. Be sure to also cover any valves or vents with masking tape. Clean the radiator with warm water and a mild detergent to remove any dust and leave to dry.

Sand the radiator down

Using a light-weight sandpaper (120 grade), give the radiator a good once over making sure to buff away any unsightly lumps or bumps in the old paint. Your dust sheet should protect the floors from any debris. 


If bare metal has been exposed through the sanding process then you should apply at least one coat of metal primer paint prior to painting as described below.

Use the correct paint for the job

Good quality satinwood paint is probably the best choice when you’re painting a radiator. It has a nice finish and it is best suited to constant changes in temperature.

Stir the paint well before use and make sure you paint in the same direction as the grooves in the radiator. Use a synthetic paint brush and try not to overload it with too much paint, otherwise you’ll drip everywhere. You should extend your brush into the paint tin or paint pail so that only one third of the bristles is dipped in the paint.

For best results, paint in the following order. Using the edge of a 2 inch brush start by painting the edges then move onto the face. At the front work in small sections, begin with the mouldings then the top followed by the bottom before bringing the two together. Finish up painting the top and bottom edges overlap onto the previous paint for an even finish.

  1. Coo-Var Hammercote Smooth Gloss Finish Ready Mixed Colours
    Coo-Var Hammercote Smooth Gloss Finish Ready Mixed Colours
    From £23.06 £19.22
  1. Zinsser Allcoat Exterior Gloss Solvent Based Tinted Colours
    Zinsser Allcoat Exterior Gloss Solvent Based Tinted Colours
    From £32.59 £27.16 Was £36.22

Leave plenty of time to dry

Leave the paint to dry overnight and apply a second coat repeating the last step as described above. You should note that several thin coats are better than one or two thick coats. You will not only achieve a much smoother surface appearance but you will get a harder and more chip resistant finish. You should also ensure that the paint must be completely dry before applying another coat of paint on top – otherwise the results will be disappointing.

Important - only turn the heating back on when the paint has thoroughly dried out. Leave a minimum of 24 hours.

Radiator Paint at The Paint Shed

Shop our wide selection of radiator paints to get started on your radiator today. With the biggest and best trade paint brands on offer you are guaranteed a perfect finish every time. Shop all the necessary equipment in our tools and accessories section.

Have a question?

We're here to help. Get in touch by calling 033 3320 2369 or email [email protected] 

If you want more tips and tricks from the paint experts, read our decorating advice blog here

Check out this video from our supplier Crown Paint to find out more.