Man alive, friends, it has been a crazy week. Sometimes I think long weekends just make the short week more hectic, because everyone comes back rested and ready to go on Monday and things get NUTS. No? Just me? Ok then.
If you don't live in a house that was built in 1920, it's possible this post will be of limited value to you. BUT, what I learned through doing this project is that it's surprisingly easy to paint metal in a way that is (allegedly) durable, even for a surface that's going to get hot, so this post could have all sorts of applications for other metal things that you might want to paint. There are lots of spray paints that are specifically designed for metal, but we didn't have the option to take this radiator outside (both because it was too cold for spray paint and because these radiators are HEAVY and we weren't going to be moving it more than a few feet).
I found myself repainting this radiator because we're in the middle of a bathroom remodel and the radiator was removed from the bathroom so a tile floor could be put down. Since it was out of the way and not going to be getting hot any time soon, it was the perfect time to clean it up. Plus, I liked the gold color but the beat-up finish was going to look especially dingy next to brand new, shiny tile. So! Off to the Home Depot!
What we learned from our friendly Home Depot experts is that you do need to buy a special undercoat to ensure that the paint you're using will stick to the metal and hold fast when the radiator heats and cools--but the undercoat goes on just like regular paint and is super easy to use. Here's what it looks like (we had them tint ours yellow since we were using gold paint).
So, start by cleaning off your radiator really well, and chipping off the loose pieces of paint. Here are some before pictures of ours:
One thing about radiators is they're secretly designed for hiding families of dust bunnies on their inner coils. Do the best you can with cleaning that sucker out, but mine was not perfect (I know I have a radiator brush somewhere, but I did not find it for this project). Once the radiator is clean and dry, slap a layer of that Glidden Gripper over the entire thing (I used a regular old paint brush and it worked great).
Let that layer dry for an hour, and then follow it with two coats of your paint color of choice (letting the second coat dry according to the directions on your paint can before you paint the third layer). I started with a Ralph Lauren gold from Home Depot, but it turned out to be a very bright yellow (think "follow the yellow brick road" gold, or "pimp gold," if you will) and I was going for something more muted. This is the gold paint I used in the end, which is available at Target:
And that's all there is to it! Admire your beautiful new-old radiator.
I'm definitely going to repaint some of the other radiators in our house now that I know how easy this is, but I'll wait until summer so they're not hot while I'm painting (I'm not an expert here, but I don't think that's a great idea). I supposed you could also just close the radiator and let it cool down, but we have plenty of other house projects to attend to in the meantime. Hoping to start revealing some rooms soon!