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How to paint radiators

Radiator painted in Lick Green 08

WordsMaha Elley


Painting a radiator doesn’t take quite as much time and painting experience as you might think. The key is picking the right paint and making sure you blend all the sections for an even, flawless finish. 

Yes, you can paint radiators

Here’s how to paint a radiator like a pro.

Lick paint tin with paint brush on top
Green paint brush painting radiator

What you’ll need to paint a radiator

Gather your utensils, including: 

  • Drop cloths to protect your floors 
  • Sponge and mild detergent
  • Clothing that you don’t mind getting paint splatters on 
  • Sandpaper
  • A couple of smaller paintbrushes
  • Paint - make sure you’re using paint that’s compatible for use on radiators. At Lick, our paint is compatible with all types of radiators except oil radiators.
  • Biodegradable dust sheet

How to prepare your radiator for painting

Before the slightly more fun painting part, let’s get a few things in order: 

Turn your radiators off at least 24 hours before so they’re nice and cool for painting. Allow them to dry thoroughly by keeping them switched off for 24 hours post-application too.  

Place some drop sheets on the floor and save yourselves the trouble of scrubbing away splatters and splodges later. 

Move your furnishings away from your working area. If you can’t, cover them with protective sheets to save them from those pesky paint splatters. 

Insert a piece of cardboard between the radiator and wall to protect the paint job on your wall. 

Using a piece of sandpaper, sand your radiator a little to smoothen the surface. This creates a more even finish and makes it easier for the paint to stick. 

Your radiator should be dust-free and grime-free before paint application. To clean, dip a clean sponge into a mixture of warm water and mild detergent. Sponge down your radiator and leave to dry for a clean working surface. 

Open the windows. You need a well-ventilated space to work in.

How to paint a radiator

Once you’ve got a clean and stone-cold radiator to work with, kick off the process: 

Step 1 

If you're using Lick paint, you don't need to prime your radiator as all our paints are formulated with primer, so you can actually paint our paint straight onto the radiator.

However, if your radiator is on the rustier side or has an unusual finish, we would suggest applying a specialist radiator primer first. This step is crucial to ensure that any rusty radiator parts are well-protected. It also offers a solid base for the rest of the paint to stick to.

Apply the primer coat and leave to dry completely before paint application (check out when to use primer paint).

Step 2 

Using the edge of a small paint brush, start to paint the radiator’s edges. Working in small sections, paint the mouldings and take extra care not to get any paint on the walls. 

Step 3 

Happy with your handywork on the mouldings? Start painting the rest of the radiator, working your way from top to bottom in long, sweeping strokes. Make sure that there’s always a slight overlap with the last section so it all blends together evenly. 

Step 4 

If your radiator needs another coat of paint, wait for the first coat to dry before painting it. 

Once the second coat is done, leave your radiator to dry overnight.  

(Tip: Paint in the direction of the radiator’s grooves for the most flawless finish.)