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Another question on painting ancient radiators

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Betsy G, Dec 2, 2007.

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  1. Betsy G

    Betsy G New Member

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    My answer to Jill was regarding painting newer cast iron baseboard radiators - I have two rooms with those (additions) but all my other rooms have 80 year old radiators.

    They all have beautiful covers so I haven't painted the radiators themselves (been here 30 years.)
    I have scraped off loose paint once in a while when I vacum or dust them and I am betting that loose paint is lead based.

    So what do I do to repaint the radiators?
    I want to sell my house and I will have to disclose lead paint. I understand if you have painted over it with non lead paint you are in the clear.

    Does anyone know if this is true and have any suggestions for me?
    I was going to go ahead and scrape and prime and paint. I guess I need to wear a mask to chip off all this ancient paint. There are still tons of loose areas.

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  2. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I don't think you have to disclose anything that you don't know for a fact. The paint may or may not have lead in it. I always assume that old paint does, but an assumption is all it is.

    If you paint the radiators, it will stabilize the remaining paint and cover it up, making a nonissue over the near term. Anyone concerned about lead in your house will take comfort in the fact that new paint is containing any potential lead.

    That's my view, anyway. Maybe the law says something different.

    Radiators are not hard to paint where they sit, but masking everything off adequately and ventilating the room takes some time and thought. And cleaning up the radiators, as you suggest, is a bit of work. But a can of oil based primer and a couple cans of Rustoleum spray paint is all you need to do a really nice job on a radiator. Even a so-so prep job will result in a nice finish that will last for years, if not decades.

    To speed things up on the scraping, you can get a stripper wheel for a standard electric drill and use it to knock off all the peeling paint and rust. You can go up and down the columns systematically with the stripper wheel and do a pretty complete job. Keep the dust down with a vacuum cleaner or blow it out a window with a box fan. You'll need that when you paint, too. If the radiators can be rocked back and forth, you might be able to slide pieces of paper under the feet to mask off the floor. Or, you can masking tape around them.

    Here's a couple pics of my most recent radiator painting job.

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  3. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    and more.

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  4. Betsy G

    Betsy G New Member

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    What color paint would you suggest?
    Does it matter for heat conduction?
    I would think there would be.
    Is spraying the best option? I hate to use spray paint, but I guess it's the only way to get in there.

    You have some fancy radiators!
    Some of mine have pale turquoise peeling off.
    Some have metallic paint.
  5. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Color doesn't matter. It's the hot water and cast iron that keep you warm. I use Rustoleum spray paint, but you can brush it on if you prefer. It's harder to get into the nooks and crannies, but has a much lower impact. Not a bad way to spend a couple hours. You can always hit the hard-to-reach spots with a little spray paint of the same color. Rustoleum sells it both ways.
  6. Betsy G

    Betsy G New Member

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    Oil version - right?
  7. heaterman

    heaterman Minister of Fire

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    Do not use latex based paint on a radiator. Color does make a slight difference and you can find a bunch of data on this at www.heatinghelp.com. Do a search using the words radiator paint and see what pops up.
  8. BrownianHeatingTech

    BrownianHeatingTech Minister of Fire

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    I carry a line of steel radiators. They are made in Germany, and available in just about any color. Unfortunately, the US distributor pretty much only stocks white and white, and if the customer really wants it, they also have white in stock. I asked about ordering the colored radiators if a customer wanted them. Their response was that the cost was so high to do a special order, instead of just ordering white by the container-load, that they just recommended taking the white radiator to an autobody shop and having them paint it, since they can color-match to just about any color.

    So, if you don't want to paint them yourself, that's another option.

    Joe
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I second the recommendation to visit heatinghelp.com and The Wall. I've learned a lot just by lurking around there. The installation photos are worth the effort, though they're a little intimidating for DIYers like me. Something to shoot for, anyway.

    My take on the paint color question is that it's not enough to overcome the aesthetic value of having your radiators match the room they're in. I'm sure my wife would agree, and her opinion counts for a lot around here. I view cast iron radiators as functional works of art, basically, so I subscribe to the "better to look good than to feel good" school of thought on that.

    But yes, I stand corrected--color does technically matter.
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