How to paint a radiator

At this stage I have painted three radiators in our home, all to match the walls in the room. Here I’ll explain how to paint a radiator in a few easy steps.

Image credit Style At No.5

I wouldn’t even consider painting those lovely radiators that have character and style or that are modern and finished in sleek, rust free material. However when it comes to your standard, “in the house when you bought it and no money to replace them” radiators, I say go for it.

It is quite straightforward and makes the radiator blend in with your wall colour to give the room a more unified look.

Image credit Style At No.5

Some of the tutorials online warn against using wall paint and instead recommend buying specific radiator paint. I can only talk about what I did and how it turned out.

Specific radiator paint

If you are painting the radiators a different colour to your walls, like black or white for example then it makes sense to buy specific radiator paint for them in that colour. However if you want the radiator to match the wall paint then I would just go with the wall paint and seal it afterwards.

Lots of shops offer specific radiator paint. Lenehans, Woodies and B&Q all have a selection.

Below is one of the rooms I painted where I also painted the radiator to match the walls.


Make sure the radiator is cold and won’t be turned on for the duration of your paint job. It might be worth saving this job until the Spring or Summer.

Protect the wall and floor

Some of this depends how messy a painter you are and what you are trying to achieve. If you are painting the radiator the same colour as the wall it’s not too much of an issue if you dab the paint onto the wall by accident.

However if you are going for a different colour you will want to make sure your wall is protected. You can slide a large piece of cardboard behind the radiator before you start or at the very least put down a dust cloth or sheet over your floors.

Clean the radiator

Start by cleaning the radiator to make sure it is free from dust and dirt. I just used washing up liquid in water and a micro-fibre cloth. You may need to sand the radiator too if there are old paint bubbles or drips on it but again I didn’t need to do that with the radiators I painted.

Paint set up in bedroom to paint radiator

Paint the radiator

The radiator should be painted in a specific order. It helps you to keep track of which bits you have done and gives a better finish.

Start with the indented grooves in the radiator and paint from one side of the radiator to the other. I used a 1 and a half inch brush. Use fluid brush strokes to get a smooth finish. Then do the lines on the radiator, again in downward strokes from one side to the other. Next paint the top of the radiator blending as you go and finally paint the bottom of the radiator.

Let it dry for the required time and then paint on a second coat following the steps above.

How to step by step guide to paint radiator
Paint strokes on the radiator

Seal the radiator

If like me you are using an interior emulsion paint to match the radiator to your walls then you will need to coat it with a sealant or enamel to stop the paint cracking and chipping. I used Ronseal Radiator Enamel but there are other products on the market.

Follow the same pattern as above in terms of coating the radiator and allow it to dry for the required amount of time that it says on the tin.

I used two coats of the Ronseal Radiator Enamel.

Ronseal radiator enamel

These are two of the radiators I have painted in the house. The first one, in the blue room, was painted in Little Greene emulsion paint in the colour Woad. The second one in our kitchen/diner was painted in Greensmoke by Farrow and Ball.

Our bedroom radiator has also been painted but the room isn’t in a finished enough state to show you just yet.

Blue walls and blue radiator painted in Woad from Little Greene
Image credit Style At No.5
Green walls and green radiator painted to match
Image credit Style At No.5

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Let me know in the comments below. Also have a read through my blog post on Updating your kitchen cupboards if you feel you want to continue on and paint something else.

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  1. Miriam says:

    I love what you’ve done with the radiators.
    Where did you find that clear enamel? I don’t seem to be able to find anything that is not be able to find it. Thanks

    1. Celine Gill says:

      Hi Miriam,
      Thank you for your comment. I got the clear enamel here in Ireland but you don’t have to use it. I have left some radiators without it and they are fine. Good luck with it.

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