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How to paint a radiator

Image of gold radiator by @hawley_home

How to paint a radiator

What’s the best way to incorporate a radiator into your design scheme? To answer the question, I’ve put together a few ideas from my favourite Insta influencers. But before we get to the creative bit, there are some practicalities you need to consider first.

Which paint?

If you’re repainting your radiator, you’ll need a paint that can withstand high temperatures. I tend to go for paints that are specially formulated for radiators, but you can use a standard emulsion and cover it with a protective clear radiator paint (for example, Ronseal radiator enamel in clear gloss).

Preparation is key

In an ideal world, you’d remove your radiator from the wall to paint those hard-to-reach places behind it (don’t forget to drain it first). But if you decide to paint it in situ, wait for it to cool down completely. Then, clear the area and put down a sheet to protect the floor. Open a couple of windows so that you have a well-ventilated space to work in. Thoroughly clean your radiator with warm water and mild detergent and allow it to dry completely. Next, sand the surface to roughen it – this helps the paint to stick. Finally, wipe down your radiator and allow it to dry.

Time to paint

Make sure you create a base for your paint by applying a metal primer or a specialist radiator primer first. Always leave your primer to dry completely – check the manufacturer’s instructions if you don’t know how long this will take. Then, give the surface a final wipe down before beginning to apply your chosen paint. For best results, work your way from one side of the radiator to the other, slightly overlapping each section as you go. Paint in the same direction as the grooves of the radiator for a neat finish. Finally, if you think you’ll need a second coat, make sure the first is thoroughly dry; if possible, leave it overnight.

Insta inspo

As promised, here’s some fabulous ideas to inspire you from a handful of my favourite Insta influencers. How will you transform your radiators?

1. Blend it in

Here’s a lesson in how to blend a radiator into your decor from Beth Parnell of @dottysdecor, who’s painted hers blush pink to match the walls.

Image of a radiator painted by @dottysdecor
Image: @dottysdecor
2. Make sure it stands out

Why play it safe in your hallway when you could make a fabulous first impression? Debbie of @fixingupfarnley has done just that, with soft pink providing a stunning backdrop to her anthracite-grey radiator.

Image of a painted radiator by @fixingupfarnley
Image: @fixingupfarnley
3. Match it with key features

I love the way Emma Worthington of @moveovermagnolia has matched her mint green radiator to the exposed steel beam in her kitchen! It creates a lovely cohesive vibe without looking overly matchy-matchy.

Image of patined radiator by @moveovermagnolia
Image: @moveovermagnolia
4. Cover it up

Sometimes the best thing to do with a radiator – especially if it is unsightly – is to hide it with a cover. This is also a practical option if you need to protect young children from potential burns. Here’s three great examples:

Image of painted radiator cover by @house_of_chester

Pack a visual punch and paint your radiator cover sunshine yellow as Michaela of @house_of_chester has.

Image: @house_of_chester

Image of painted cover by@gold_is_a_neutral

A shot of zesty orange followed by soothing shades of grey pave the way into Jess Hurrell’s chic home (@gold_is_a_neutral).

Image: @gold_is_a_neutral

Image a painted radiator cover by @oakappledecor

Take inspiration from Marisa and Chris of @oakappledecor and paint your radiator cover the same colour as your walls to make it blend.

Image: @oakappledecor

Featured image: Go for gold like Charlie Hawley from @hawley_home. If you want to create something similar, shop for a specially formulated option – Rustoleum is a good place to start. Colours are limited, but you can be sure that the finish is heat resistant.

Want more? Has this inspired you to make a feature of other areas of your home? Check out our blogs on decorative staircases and making the most of a picture rail.