Let’s face it, radiators stick out like a bit of a sore thumb in any room. They’re not the best looking for features, but living in the UK, as you’ll know, they are extremely essential. As they protrude and often catch the eye it tends to be one of the first things you notice in a room.
So you don’t want one of the focal points of your room to look tired, with flaking paint now, do you? Every few years you’ll find that just due to the heating element of radiators, the paint cracks, flakes and peels off, it’s normal. What I will tell you is, no matter what radiator paint you buy, it won’t last forever.
That being said though, a good radiator paint will enhance the look of your room and also last the test of time, so it’s quite important to get a decent one.
In this article I’ve explored my top radiator paint picks, a complete buying guide and further frequently asked questions. As it’s a long article you might want to jump to a specific section that best answers your query, and you can do so by clicking the links below:
- My top radiator paint pick
- Radiator paint buying guide
- 7 Best radiator paints
- Frequently asked questions
Just want to cut to the chase? I can appreciate that. If you keep reading this article, you can find out all the reasons why I have chosen these two, but below as a quick overview, you can see after all my research the top radiator paints I have chosen. The first is a fantastic paint by Rust-Oleum and that’s my overall best, however, I’ve also included my budget choice if you’re a little strapped for cash is by Rustins, which is also a great radiator paint as you can see by the reviews.
Now it’s time for the buying guide. I’ve been doing a lot of research on radiator paints, from how to paint your radiator, what kind of paint you need, what features you should look for, reviews, costs & you name it.
If you’re looking at freshening up your radiator, you don’t want to just take my word for it on the best radiator paint, you want to be sure that the radiator paint is right for you. With that in mind, here is my radiator paint buying guide:
How to paint a radiator
So if you’re looking at radiator paint, it might be useful if you know the steps to paint a radiator, as it’s not quite the same as just painting your wall. Here’s a quick step by step guide on how you can paint your radiator and get a perfect finish:
- Make sure the radiator is turned off & completely cold
- Open your window, paint stinks
- Clear as much dirt and dust on and around the radiator, so you don’t get it stuck in the paint
- Sand down the radiator using coarse sanding paper, get rid of any unwanted debris
- If you want to get the best finish, you’re going to need to add a radiator primer
- Apply the first coat of your chosen radiator paint – it may need more than one, depending on the paint you choose
- Let the paint dry, make sure you don’t use the radiator for a good 24 hour period after painting to ensure it’s completely dried
It’s fairly straight forward, but following all the steps is important. You generally don’t quite realise how dirty a radiator can get, with little bits in all the nooks and crannies, which when you’re painting can stick to your brush and be spread around. Although it isn’t completely necessary, be sure to buy yourself a primer too, as this will give you the best overall finish.
What kind of paint do you use on a radiator?
Unfortunately, not all paints are created equally, and the paint you use for your walls won’t be suitable for use on a radiator. Radiator paint needs to be a little different, it needs to be able to withstand extreme heats, and general paint isn’t heat resistant. The heat resistant element helps the paint last the test of time when a normal paint would just flake, get discoloured or even give off a bad smell.
When searching for radiator paints, like aforementioned the heat resistant quality is the main thing that you need to look for as if it’s not heat resistant it will quickly discolour. There is a whole range of suitable radiator paints out there, and even some metal paints that can be used on radiators.
Another option that you commonly find with radiator painting is the option to buy spray paint. I’ve featured one spray paint in my list, they are good and generally quite cheap, but they require a bit more work as you have to take the radiator off the wall in order to guarantee a tidy finish and ensure you don’t ruin the wall behind.
Another thing you may want to consider after you’ve painted your radiator is to cover it in an overcoat. This is a clear overcoat and will just act as extra protection and ensure your paint lasts the test of time.
What should I look for in radiator paint?
As aforementioned, there is essentially just one main element that you should look for in radiator paint. The main thing is that the paint is heat resistant, because most standard paints aren’t, and if they aren’t, essentially they will start to yellow and flake.
Other than that, you should look at the reviews, because you want to ensure that the heat resistant element of the paint is good enough and it lasts the test of time, and of course you want to choose a paint that has the colour and finish that suits your personal preferences.
How much does radiator paint cost?
It completely depends on what you buy, however throughout my research I found that you could pick up decent quality radiator paint for as little as £5-6 for a 250ml container, but it could also range to as high as £20 for the same size.
In looking at the reviews and features, what I generally found is that your paying for the brand majority of the time, which there is nothing wrong with because it comes with the assurance of quality. The cheaper purchases are lesser-known brands, so you take a little bit more risk, however, if you read the reviews and look at customers experiences, you should get a good idea of the quality of the paint.
What colour choices do I have for my radiator paint?
When looking for radiator paint, just like ordinary paint, you have several different choices of colours, black, green, purple, it depends on your preference. That being said, radiators are typically white or grey, so if you go for a colour that is a bit more out there like green, for instance, you might have to settle for some metal paint as opposed to purpose-made radiator paint, which is fine you just need to ensure that it is suitable for radiators (heat resistant).
Popular radiator paint brands
In the radiator paint world there are a lot of brands that you can choose from, some of which you might recognise as larger paint brands, here’s a quick list of brands I found in my research:
There are obviously a lot more out there than that but in terms of brands that I regularly saw & consistently had highly rated and reviewed product, those are the main brands.
Do I need to remove the previous radiator paint? (Best radiator paint remover)
If you want to get the cleanest finish on your new paint job, I would always advise stripping back the previous paint which doesn’t just apply to radiators. There are a few ways in which you can do this:
- Try and sand it down with coarse sandpaper
- Use a paint stripper
- Get a tin of Nitromose, apply it to the radiator and leave it an hour, this should flake the paint and you can get it off with a wallpaper scraper
Now the section you’ve been waiting for, my best radiator paint picks. After all my research on the subject, I can confidently tell you that all of these paints are fantastic, highly rated, well priced & perfect for painting your radiators.
So let’s not wait any longer, here are my top 7 picks, a description about each of them and some of their main features:
Let’s jump right in with the top pick in the list, a current Amazon Choice product by Rust-Oleum. Although displayed to the right is the slate grey finish, this paint is available in a lot of different colours, 15 different colours in fact. It’s also available in 250ml & 750ml.
Rust-Oleum is a well-known paint brand and has been around since 1921, it’s a trusted name and they always deliver quality paints. This paint is no exception, it’s a universal paint and can be applied to a variety of surfaces including wood, plastic, ceramics & of course metals, which makes it suitable for a radiator.
To apply this paint, you need to stir it thoroughly. It might work with a single coat, although it is suggested in the description that you may need a second. This product covers about 9m2 (square metres) per litre but that can depend on how thick you paint it, of course, either way, it’s fantastic value for money.
It dries in around 2 hours, and you can touch it within about 8 hours. You should wait roughly 16-24 hours to apply a second coat. I personally wouldn’t advise using the radiator for around 7 days, I know that sounds like a lot, but that’s when the paint gets to full hardness and it will last longer if you let it completely dry.
Interested in purchasing this paint by Rust-Oleum? Here are some of it’s main features and reasons you should purchase it:
- It’s a paint & primer in one, meaning you don’t have to apply a base primer saving you a bit of extra money
- Due to also being a primer, you can apply this straight to rust, although I would still advise sanding it down first
- You can use it for multiple things, so if you buy too much for your radiator, you can apply it to wood, plastic & ceramics
- Very highly rated across the board, with great ratings in ease of use, longevity, value for money & thickness
Yet another Amazon Choice product at the time of writing this, and at a fantastic price, this is by far my favourite budget option. It’s a paint by the brand Rustins, and it’s purposely designed for radiators, although they do specifically state that it shouldn’t be used on oil radiators.
This paint is quick to dry, and will only take 30 minutes to be dry to the touch, although I would wait at least 24 hours before actually turning the radiator back on.
It’s designed with heat resistant qualities so that it stays white through the test of time and doesn’t go yellow. It’s got a low odour and is water-based, it also doesn’t have to be used on just radiators, if you’ve bought too much, you can also use it for touching up other white appliances like fridges.
Are you interested in buying this Rustins product? I don’t blame you, the price is fantastic & it’s high quality, as you can see evidenced by the reviews. I’ve pulled out some of its main features for you below:
- Available in gloss or satin finishes
- Quick drying – dry to the touch in 30 minutes
- The paint has heat resistant qualities so it doesn’t yellow
- It’s a low odour paint
- Can be used to touch up other white appliances
This Hammerite paint is designed specifically for use on radiators, and is available in a glossy white finish, for a traditional looking radiator finish. Just like the product above, they state that this paint is only to be used on water-filled household radiators, meaning it likely isn’t suitable for oil-filled radiators.
This paint will provide you with a finish that lasts the test of time. It’s very easy to apply and will dry to the touch in as little as 4-6 hours, although I would leave it a few days for the paint to completely harden before actually using the radiator to ensure it lasts. The paint is resistant to yellowing and is also designed to prevent rust, which is very common on radiators.
Although this 500ml paint tin is formulated for radiators, it can also provide a finish to any metal you require from railings to gates or garage doors, which is useful if you have some leftover after painting your radiators.
This paint can also be painted onto rusty surfaces and doesn’t require a primer or undercoat to get a great finish and long-lasting rust protection elements.
Do you want to buy this radiator paint by Hammerite? Here are some of the main features of this 500ml glossy white finish tin:
- The paint doesn’t yellow thanks to it’s heat resistant qualities
- It offers long lasting rust protection
- Quick drying to the touch – will dry in as little as 4-6 hours
- Can be used on all kind of metal surfaces, not just radiators
- Doesn’t require a primer or undercoat
I couldn’t create a list of the best paints without including likely the most well known and trusted paint brands, Dulux. Being from the well-known brand, as you may come to expect if you’ve looked at their paints before, is that they’re a little bit more expensive than others, but you pay for the assurance that this is going to be a fantastic product that you’ll have no issues with.
It’s a multi-purpose paint that isn’t specifically made for radiators, but it will do the job and has heat resistant qualities, meaning it won’t yellow when applied to your radiators.
This paint provides a beautiful gloss finish, that is quick-drying which will see it dry to the touch at 1 hour, but there’s actually a 6 hour full drying time. To paint the radiator you will need to have two coats, which you can do straight after it’s touch dry. It’s got a good level of coverage as well with 16m2 (square metres) per litre.
It’s a low odour formula and is very easy to use, it’ll give you a long-lasting finish. Like some of the others in the list, it also doesn’t require an undercoat. If this 750ml tin is too much for your radiators, then don’t worry because it can be used for exterior and interior wood or metal, meaning it’s suitable to paint several different things.
Are you looking to go with the paint from this well-known brand Dulux? You know you’re getting quality from a brand like that, here are some of its main features:
- Long lasting formula that won’t yellow
- Multi-purpose paint, but suitable for painting radiators
- Quick drying time – will dry to the touch in an hour
- Doesn’t require an undercoat
- 16m2 coverage per litre
- Requires two coats
Another big paint brand to make the list is this product by Ronseal. It’s again a slightly pricer option with the tin only being 250ml but will provide a very high-quality finish and only requires a single coat, in comparison to the Dulux product above which takes two.
This paint is purposely designed for radiators and it provides a white satin finish, which they claim is a much whiter finish than other radiator paints and that it’ll stay that way for a longer period of time.
You won’t get your typical strong paint smell with this tin, as it’s very low odour. This paint won’t yellow because its heat resistant qualities, so it will last the test of time, although I would suggest applying a primer or undercoat as this is not a paint that has these qualities.
In regards to coverage, as I’ve mentioned, it’s a single coat, and you’ll get coverage of 13m2 (square metres) per litre of paint, so working that back, this tin will give you a coverage of 3.25m2.
If you’re interested in purchasing this paint by Ronseal then you might want to know some of it’s main features and selling points, which I’ve listed for you below:
- Specifically designed for painting radiators
- Long lasting white finish that won’t yellow
- Only requires a single coat, and this tin will cover 3.25m2
- Heat resistant qualities
- Recommended that you should use a primer or undercoat before hand
- Low odour paint
This paint is by Johnstone, which is another well-known paint brand in the UK. This particular product that I’ve highlighted is the 1.25L satin white tin, but there are lots of other options for colours including coffee cream, black, frosted silver and pink cadillac to name but a few & it’s also available in a 2.5L tin.
What about the paint itself? Although it appears to be designed with radiators in mind, which you can see by the picture on the tin, it’s a multipurpose paint which can be used for interior metal and wood, from radiators to skirting boards.
This water-based paint is a quick-drying paint that will be dry to the touch in 2 hours or under. It’s also got heat resistant qualities so it won’t yellow over the passing of time. Furthermore, it’s a low odour formula and doesn’t require a primer or undercoat is it has self-undercoating properties.
Thinking of purchasing this Johnstone quick drying paint for your radiator touch ups? Then here are some of the main features for you to see at a glance:
- Quick drying to the touch in under 2 hours
- Available in a very wide range of different colours
- Heat resistant qualities meaning it can be used for radiators
- Low odour formula
- Doesn’t require an undercoat
- Although coverage isn’t detailed, the reviews do say it has a good coverage
Now you may be looking at this and thinking, that’s spray paint? You’re not wrong. You can spray paint radiators and it gives a great finish as there are no brush strokes, making it a preference for a lot of people, so I thought I’d include it on the list. It’s a little bit more awkward to paint radiators with this as you will have to take them off the wall to cover it fully.
Now let’s dig into the product itself, it’s another product by Rust-Oleum, the second time I’ve featured them. The spray provides a white satin finish and is useful for painting a variety of things, including radiators.
It’s easy to use & dries fast, providing a great finish with rust protection qualities. The paint does not fade or yellow is hard-wearing, water-resistant, tough and UV absorbent. They also state that it will cover over 50% more than other sprays on the market.
It’s available in an amazing 42 colours from white to khaki, it can pretty much cover all the style preferences, with gloss, satin and matte finishes. Not only that, at the time of writing this you know it’s a quality product as it’s an Amazon Choice & best seller.
Leaning towards getting a spray paint for your radiator finish? It can provide a nicer finish than paint but requires a bit more work. That being said, if you want to spray paint your radiators, this is the product you should choose! Here are some of its main features:
- Perfect for use on radiators
- Claims 50% more coverage than other sprays
- Available in 42 different colours!
- It doesn’t yellow
- Fast drying formula
- Multi-purpose and can be used on a wide range of things, including metal and wood
Have you read through the best radiator paint buying guide and still have some lasting questions? Here are some of the most common questions that people search in relation to radiator paints, that I’ve not yet answered:
Can you paint radiators with normal paint?
I really wouldn’t advise it. Of course, you can, and it will look like it’s done the job for a period of time, however standard paint you use for your wall like emulsion, typically doesn’t have heat resistant qualities. Over time the paint will discolour, turning yellow, and it may even start to flake, and that’ll happen much quicker than if you use a purpose-made radiator paint or metal paint with heat resistant qualities.
Can you paint a radiator with gloss?
Yes, you can but the results are very similar to the above answer, you can just make sure the radiator has been turned off and completely cooled down. Again, there’s the issue that if you paint with gloss, it typically isn’t heat resistant and it will yellow and not last as long as a radiator paint, so you may have to paint it with more frequency.
Do I need to prime a radiator before painting?
I would always suggest using a primer to get a clean finish, but whether you can paint a radiator without it depends on the radiator itself. If you have stripped the current paint off the radiator and it’s just down to the bare metal then yes you will need a primer in order for the paint to last. On the other hand, if you’ve sanded the radiator down and a thin layer of paint is leftover but smooth enough to paint on top of, then yes you can get away without priming the radiator, although it probably won’t give you the best finish.
How do you get dried paint off a radiator?
I touched on this earlier, but if it’s dried paint that is pretty weak and flaking, the best thing would be to sand it with coarse sanding paper & using a wallpaper scraper to get the little bits off. Due to the design of the radiator though, it can often be tricky to get into the little nooks and crannies, so you might want to use some paint stripper & a thin wallpaper scraper to get into those hard to get areas and remove the paint.
Can you paint over a rusty radiator?
You can, but before jumping ahead and adding that lovely finish top-coat, there are a few things you should do. Make sure that you sand down the radiator so it’s smooth, then add a high-quality primer to the rusted radiator – you can choose to use any metal primer or a specialist one for radiators if you wish. This is important to protect the rusted parts of the radiator & it gives the paint a good base to cling to and will make it last far longer.
Why is my radiator paint bubbling?
Well, the chances are if your radiator paint is starting to bubble or flake a paint that doesn’t have heat resistant qualities was used. If you use a standard emulsion on a radiator, this is what will happen over a period of time, using purpose-made radiator paint will mean this doesn’t happen.