Repainting Heaters – It Makes a World of Difference

Repainting Heaters – It Makes a World of Difference

It’s that time of year when we start thinking about having to turn the heat on – at least those of us living in the Hudson Valley!  However, every state has it moments, and those of us with radiator or electric heat might be staring at the heaters thinking how disgusting they look.  Yep, not the kind of thing you want to have when your company arrives for the holidays.

Those of us who bought neglected fixer uppers might even have a little more work on our hands.  If you’re looking at those heaters thinking you have to replace them, perhaps you might want to consider another method:  repaint them!

There’s more than one method to doing this. The best method is if you can remove them. However, that could involve electrical and plumbing work. If that’s not the kind of thing you are familiar with, then paint them where they are at, and take off easy to remove parts to paint separately. A word of caution: if there’s electricity involved and the potential to electrocute yourself, either don’t do it or turn off the power from the main circuit breaker.

Now, these particular heaters are radiator heaters and have water going through pipes. I have used this method on electric heaters as well, but check and make sure your particular heater can withstand this method.

As you can see, I had a major problem. The heaters didn’t really look savable. I actually used a sanding block and steel wool on this. Remove the rust the best you can with the stainless steel and/or sanding block.  Cover your mouth so you’re not breathing the floating particles in – and, protective eye gear is always a wise idea.  Clean the heaters off so that they’re free of dust.  I use a dampened rag to do this, and wipe it clean.

Then, CAREFULLY paint your heaters. Some people will recommend using a primer, but I used a high quality oil paint and have had success with them in the past as long as I used two coats.

Use painting tape on the walls behind the heater if you think you’re going to make a mess. Also, be careful! Oil paint isn’t exactly fun to try to clean up. If it spills on your hardwood, linoleum, or tile floor, wipe it up immediately. If you have carpet, hopefully you did some kind of prep work to prevent a problem. Don’t use mineral spirits on your hardwood floors. You may lose your finish if you do. I’m only recommending mineral spirits to clean the brush.

After you paint one coat on, let it dry for the amount of time indicated on the can (also, follow all the directions by the manufacturer). Do not try to attempt a super thick coat. Patience is everything. Wait for the first coat to dry in the amount of time required, and then apply the second coat. Even if it doesn’t come out to exact perfection, you’ll be amazed at the improvement. Not everyone crawls on the floor to find your mistakes. 😉


So, save those heaters! Ask your local hardware store what paint may be right for your heater. Follow the safety guidelines on the can. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to remove your heaters, spray paint is great! I painted these, but would’ve opted for spray paint had they been easy to remove. As you can see, the result was great. I used an off white color, but colors vary so much now that you could have some fun with your heaters.

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4 thoughts on “Repainting Heaters – It Makes a World of Difference

  1. Wow! What a difference. Nice, very nice.

    1. Donna

      They were pretty sorry and sad, weren’t they? A can of paint is so cheap for the amount of coverage and change that takes place!

  2. Kelly G

    Very nice improvement!

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