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Repainting old radiators: The research starts here

The Snapdragon Inn

via Apartment Therapy

We have 13 cast iron radiators in the Inn. These aren't the fizzing, clanking, sputtering, popping radiators that may come to mind when you think of a radiator but are of varying lengths and heights. We had a HUGE debate as to whether we should repaint them or we should build radiator covers (and I am not going to open that debate here because some things need to just rest.)

Once getting into the research, there are some who say that painting them lowers the efficiency of the heating but others say that is a a radiator myth. One thing is for sure, ours need a little pick me up. The best thing to do would be to take them all out and get them professionally sandblasted before we paint them but have you ever tried to lift a cast iron radiator? I think we might kill ourselves or at least break some backs and feet.

I have found many excellent first hand experiences on the googletubes like Our Fixer Upper,which has tons of great stuff, House in Progess, Old House Web, DIY Life, and Casa Sugar.So from what I can gather from our DIY books and online help (the comment sections on all the posts have great info from others as well), we will follow similar steps as these (casa sugar), but PLEASE LEND OF YOUR OWN TIPS :)

  1. Some of you may have an unpainted radiator or a finish that's in good shape, but if the paint is chipping, you'll need to remove it all before you give it a new finish. Unless you're prepared to remove your hefty radiator to sandblast it (or have it sandblasted professionally), you'll need to sand and scrape it the old-fashioned way: with a piece of sandpaper, a lot of elbow grease, and maybe even a putty knife. If you have an old radiator, the paint may contain lead, in which case, you do not want to sand because this would release lead into the air. Instead, use an eco-friendly paint stripper like SoyGel, 100 percent biodegradable and made from soybeans, which will encapsulate the lead in the gel, preventing airborne lead particles and allowing for safe and easy disposal.
  2. The next step (or first, if you didn't need to sand) is just to clean all of the dust and dirt off of the radiator with a damp cotton rag.
  3. Then, sand the radiator to create a rough surface for the paint to hold onto.
  4. Open your windows and doors and make sure the area is well-ventilated.
  5. Saturate a rag in Wil-Bond Deglosser and wipe down your radiator. This removes oils and cuts gloss so that the new finish will go on smoothly, bond tightly, and last longer.
  6. Now, it's prime time! If your radiator has never been painted, prepare it for painting with a bare metal primer. If not, use an ordinary oil-based primer.
  7. Here comes the fun part. Lay down some newspaper to protect your floors. Paint on your finish top coat, using any oil-based interior paint and a brush meant for oil-based paint. This paint will be heat-resistant and durable. If you choose to, you can also use spray paint, but you'll want a high-temperature aerosol paint and you'll need to mask off the surrounding area to protect your floors and walls.
  8. Let it dry, and if it seems to need a second coat, go ahead. Fini!
There is also THIS VIDEO from This Old House that shows the process by a professional with sandblasting and it looks so easy huh? We will keep you updated on this one. We have to wait until the temps are over 50 degrees to even start this project but thought I would share the research in case anyone else out there is embarking on this DIY too!

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