Home generalPaint radiator - instructions in 4 steps!

Paint radiator - instructions in 4 steps!

  • Information and preliminary considerations
  • Choice of radiator paints and paints
    • primer
    • brush selection
  • Paint radiator
    • Step 1 - Protect the environment
    • Step 2 - Cleaning, Polishing and Anti-Rust
    • Step 3 - Paint the heater
    • Step 4 - Dry paint
  • Conclusion

Radiators are used to heat rooms in the cold season and thus have an important, indeed an indispensable function. They are usually not an eye-catcher, however. All the less so, as they gradually lose their luster and turn yellow over time. Many a bored also the standard white, which carry the most heaters. Comprehensible reasons that invite you to brush and paint and to give the own radiators a new coat of paint. We will show you step by step how you can provide your practical winter companion with a noble to upbeat look!

Many people tend to replace their old radiators with new models. But not because they would not work anymore, no, just because of the unacceptable - disgusting the domestic premises - appearance of the devices. It does not have to be that old heaters, which are still fully functional, just need a nice cover. With fresh paint, they look like new. In addition, all the rooms with the colored radiators appear much nicer and more homely. Not to mention that it costs you only a fraction of what you would have to lay down for new heaters. And: Thanks to our extensive explanations and tips, it is easy for any DIY enthusiast to paint his own heating equipment!

Information and preliminary considerations

A radiator does not often need to be painted - it's usually enough to repaint it about every eight to ten years. As a sure sign that it is time to act, peeling paint and especially rusty spots apply. By the way, cast-iron or ribbed radiators are particularly susceptible to rust - a problem that does not just include a visual blemish. In fact, it can be dangerous, namely at the latest when individual places completely rust through and emerges as a result heating water.

Remove rusty spots

Newer versions are often powder-coated and therefore also more resistant. However, paint damage that requires repair, never exclude even with these models. By transporting the heaters, you will quickly find your way somewhere and an unsightly scratch or something similar has happened.

Finally, you may also be required as a tenant to renovate the radiators of the apartment or house. The work is one of the " beauty repairs " that tenants have to make - such as when moving out. It is best to speak with your landlord and clarify how and when the heaters should be maintained. Do this before picking up the scepter for repainting. This may save you a lot of effort and money.

If a fresh coat of paint is required for absolutely necessary or purely cosmetic reasons, you do not need to hire an expensive specialist. With a little manual skill or the desire to practice in it, and our helpful tips and the detailed step-by-step instructions, you can easily paint your heaters so that not only any "bad" spots are covered in the end but the whole package can truly be seen.

Choice of radiator paints and paints

When choosing radiator paints and paints you will enjoy a lot of freedom. One thing you should, however, pay attention to: Buy and use for painting only special coatings that are heat resistant or directly designated as radiator paints. Conventional paints and paints reduce the performance of the radiator, discoloring due to the heat and also toxic vapors. A comparison to illustrate: While normal colored coatings can withstand temperatures of up to 80 degrees Celsius, the special radiator coatings are heat-resistant up to about 180 degrees Celsius and also color-stable, so that they do not yellow for a very long time.

Corresponding radiator paints exist on the one hand as acrylic and on the other hand as synthetic resin or alkyd resin. Acrylic paint cans are often labeled with the "Blue Angel" because they contain virtually no harmful solvents. In addition, they develop little smell - but what should not keep you from venting! - and will dry relatively quickly. Not to mention that acrylic paints can be easily repainted if necessary. In contrast, synthetic resin or alkyd resin paints are indeed easier to work with and somewhat more resistant. But for a long time they stew the polluting and health-endangering solvents. For this very serious reason, we recommend that you prefer to use environmentally-friendly, acrylic-based heating lacquers on the shelf, and that you also value the suffix "acrylic" for colored lacquers. Matching paint cans are available in every DIY store from about ten euros for a three quarter of a liter.


You must pre-coat bare spots on the heater with the help of an anti-rust primer. It is best to use a water-dilutable primer for metal and rigid PVC. Alternatively, 2-in-1 radiator paints are also available. The latter are a little irritating by their name. Remember that these paints do not make the priming process superfluous. Rather, they can be used both for priming and the subsequent painting.

Tip: Usually you only need to apply the rust protection in a few places and not over a large area - a small tin of primer is therefore absolutely sufficient.

brush selection

Depending on which type of lacquer you prefer, you should also select the radiator brush to match. In detail: While solvent-based synthetic resin paints work well with brushes with natural bristles, brushes with plastic bristles are suitable for water-soluble acrylic paints. As a general rule, it pays off to rely on a high-quality radiator brush right from the beginning or for every paint job of radiators. So you do not have to mess around with bristles that stick in the paint. Furthermore, thanks to the long handle and characteristic curvature of a first-class radiator brush, you can get much better into the ribs and other hard-to-reach places.

Tip: Alternatively, you have the option of using a spray, especially with ribbed radiators. This is sometimes faster and more accurate. You can buy special spray paint for heating in the DIY store for about six to 14 euros per 400 ml - an amount that lasts for about one or two radiators.

Before we go to the canned - namely the practical part - we would like to give you one or the other suggestion regarding the color choice on the way. Of course, a heater does not necessarily have to be painted in classic white. Be creative and brave: Decide in any case for a couleur that harmonizes with your home furnishings. So you even give the in itself unsightly "inventory piece" even a decorative touch. In addition to various bright colors, the market now also radiator paints with special effects, for example, in aluminum look, ready.

Note: If you paint the heaters of your rented apartment with colorful colors, you should be prepared that the landlord insists on your move that you repaint the radiators in neutral white or light gray.

Paint radiator

Everything you need to varnish your radiator can be found in the specialist market - whether it's a hardware store or a paint job.

Tip: If only the paint yellowed, it is often enough to wash the heater with a paint freshener and polish. In order to repair small scratches and similar minor damage, paint pens are recommended, which you can buy for about 10 to 15 euros.

If you want to paint your heating from the ground up, you need:

  • Newsprint or cover foil
  • masking tape
  • Wire brush, sandpaper and / or sanding fleece
  • possibly: Anlauger (powder)
  • radiator brush
  • Paint roller and tub
  • if necessary: ​​paint spray
  • Heizkörperlack
  • Antirust primer (if not integrated in the paint)
  • Rubber gloves and respirator (for your safety)

Tip: Before starting work, also prepare a vacuum cleaner, sponge, bucket and cleaning agent.

For the painting of two to three radiators you should plan about 45 euros material costs. Paint your heaters when they are out of service. Otherwise, the paint dries too fast and becomes bumpy. In this respect, the activity offers the warm half of the year. If you still want to be active on cool days, turn down the thermostatic valve in good time.

Step 1 - Protect the environment

First cover the floor generously with newspaper or cover foil. For fixation use the best painter's crepe. Attach the cover to the baseboard to protect it as well. In addition, it is advisable to also provide the wall behind the radiator with cardboard or foil.

Tip: Be sure to stick the thermostat regulator and the screwed connections, because: If these essential heating components accidentally get paint off while painting, they can no longer be turned.

Lay out newspaper

Step 2 - Cleaning, Polishing and Anti-Rust

Now remove peeling paint and rusty spots. Both a classic wire brush and sandpaper are suitable for this purpose. Grind until the damaged paint spots shine metallic.

Then you have to roughen the entire surface of the radiator, so that the paint can adhere well later. Also use sandpaper or sanding fleece for this. The latter adapts perfectly to the shape of the radiator and thus makes your work easier.

Sand radiator if necessary

Then it is necessary to remove dust and paint particles from the sanding and possibly wipe the heater damp. For example, bottle brushes, suitable vacuum cleaner attachments and hot water and dishwashing detergent have a supporting effect.

Tip: You can also use soapy water to roughen the surface and remove grease and dirt. So-called "Anlauger" is available as a powder to buy. Mix this with water and apply it with a sponge to the heater. Wear protective gloves - alkalis are highly irritating to the skin! After a few minutes, thoroughly rinse the suds with clear water.

When cleaning, be very meticulous from top to bottom. If necessary, repeat the process. In order to allow the paint sufficient adhesion, no separating layer of dust or soapy water may be left behind. Otherwise, it can easily flake off again later.

Now is the time to pre-paint the radiator with rust protection. However, it is sufficient to prime the rusted and bare spots evenly. Allow the antirust primer to dry for about 12 hours.

Tip: In addition to the primer, if necessary you can already paint the edges or hard-to-reach areas with radiator paint.

Step 3 - Paint the heater

Now follows the main act: You colorize your radiator. To do this, you can choose between two methods:

a) painting and / or rolling

Take the radiator brush to hand and first paint all the narrow spots. With compact radiators, you also take care of the recesses on the front in the same way.

For larger surfaces, it is best to access the paint roller - it allows you to move forward quickly without much effort. Place the radiator paint in a paint tray so that it can be absorbed evenly by the roller.

To avoid forgetting when applying the paint, always start on the back of the radiator and work your way from the front to the front and from the top to the bottom. This way, color noses can simply be painted over and later sanded off as well.

Tip: When painting, make sure that the radiator paint is applied quickly but not too thick. Too much coating might reduce the heat output. If necessary or for optimal results, you may prefer to brush a second time after a drying phase.

b) Act with radiator spray

The use of radiator spray paint is another - very convenient - method of painting a heater. Put on a respirator mask and keep all windows in the room closed to prevent the spray from drawing in the wrong direction due to drafts.

After vigorously shaking the spray can, spray the paint evenly on the radiator from a distance of about 20 cm. The so-called "cross-technology" proves to be particularly practical: Always work alternately horizontally, vertically and diagonally - this gives the heater a complete lacquer coating.

Step 4 - Dry paint

Before putting the newly painted heater back into operation, let the paint dry on it long enough.

Tip: A minimal turning of the heater does not hurt - on the contrary, it accelerates the drying process.

The drying phase lasts about two to seven days - during this time you have to expect unpleasant odors. Ventilate the affected rooms several times a day. However, as modern radiator paints hardly contain any pollutants, all odorants have volatilized after a maximum of two weeks.


Do the preliminary work - from floor, wall and thermostat protection to cleaning - thoroughly, use special radiator paint - preferably made of acrylic - and let the painted or sprayed heater to dry for a few days: If you pay attention to all that, your radiator soon look noble and be well supplied with the new color for the next ten years or so!

Tips for quick readers

  • Radiators should be repainted every 8 to 10 years
  • Pollutant-reduced acrylic paint protects the environment and health
  • Protect floor and walls with cover or cardboard
  • Cover the thermostat regulator and fittings
  • Remove peeling paint and rusty spots with sandpaper
  • Roughen the surface of the radiator with sanding fleece or soapy water
  • Thoroughly clean - no residues of dust or soapy water
  • Pre-paint rusted and bare areas with rust protection
  • Evenly coat heating with roller and brush or spray
  • Dry the paint for 2 to 7 days with the heater slightly turned on
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