I would like to repaint a standard UK tired looking central heating radiator to a copper looking colour. My question is how to strip the current white paint really? Please see the photo attached. I don't know what sort of metal is radiator made of or what kind of paint is it currently. Do I just sandpaper it? enter image description here

After the paint is removed, what kind of paint do I need? Is it a bucket and the brush I need or something else, spray paint? I wouldn't mind the paint being more distressed looking than on the example photo below. It would be amazing to apply the same paint to various exposed pipes around the room as well, all currently painted white, do I use the same approach? enter image description here

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    If the current paint is not peeling, you don't need to remove it before repainting - just scuff it up enough for new paint to stick to it.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 9 '20 at 15:14

The radiator is probably steel. To remove the paint, you can sandpaper it.

Optimally, you should dismount it, so you're able to get to the back of it as well. If you dismount it, you can also take it to a workshop and have it sandblasted. That's the quick way to strip the paint.

As for painting: If you get down to bare steel, apply a primer that is suitable for steel, and a coat of a paint that is compatible with your primer to give it color. This can be spray paint, which will give it a uniform surface, or you can brush it on - which will probably give a thicker, less uniform coat.

For the pipes, the same approach should work. Be careful with the amount of stress you impart on them, as this may lead to leaks further down the road.


For an easier job, I would not go to the trouble of stripping the paint back to the metal, unless your radiator is in poor or rusty condition. In which case it might be more economical to replace it.

You can lightly abrade the existing topcoat with P120 or P180 grit sandpaper to de-gloss the surface and provide a key for the new paint to stick to. Try not to go down to the metal. Remove all the sanding dust with a vacuum or damp cloth. You can then apply the paint.

If there are any peeling or rough spots then lightly sand out those areas until you get back to solid smooth paint. If you reach the metal, then you will need to lightly apply some metal primer just on those spots. Use white spray primer to match the existing paint.

Spraying your top coat gives the smoothest finish as long as you are careful not to get the surface too wet on each coat and make it drip.

You can leave your radiator on the wall during painting. Remove it if you want to paint the inaccessible areas on the back or otherwise work in an area less sensitive to overspray.

Make sure your paint is suitable for radiators. Some paints can soften when they get warm.

Use the same technique for your pipes if you like, but be very careful with the sanding if they are made of plastic. If the fittings/valves are bright and shiny then I would probably leave them alone, otherwise paint them if you wish.

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