Refurbishing Old Radiators

By Robert Robillard on Home Repairs And Remodeling

Salvaging  Steam Radiators



Many homes in the Town of Concord, where I do remodeling,  have free standing, cast iron radiators.  Recently there has been a large push toward refurbishing old radiators.

Many of these beautifully decorative iron radiators that are often buried under layers of paint.  Old, chipped paint is not only an eyesore but it also reduces the heating efficiency of the radiator.

Depending on the type of radiator you have the process of refurbishing old radiators might be a do-it-yourself project.

Lead Paint Warning

WARNING – Many of these beauties were painted years ago with lead paint. Consider getting a test kit before taking on any stripping, sanding or wire wheeling.
This should be an outdoor project to avoid air borne dust. Use high temperature paint.

Professional Sandblasting and Painting

Locally there are companies that specialize in refurbishing radiators.
These companies typically charge an average of $20 per fin, or section.  these companies typically remove the radiator and take it back to their shop to refurbish it.   At the shop they will disassemble, sand-blast and powder-coated your radiator.

DIY Refurbishing Old Radiators

It is possible to chemically strip paint off old radiators.  This method is messy and time consuming.  The BEST method is to sandblast the radiator.

You need to decide if you are going to do this work with the radiator in place, and access only the visible sides, or disconnect it and perform a full restoration.

In Place Painting:

If the existing finish is sound, then your prep work is easy and sandblasting may not be needed.

1.  Clean all dust, dirt and grime  from the radiator.

2.  Sand the paint finish to roughen and etch the surface for better pain adhesion

3.  Wipe the radiator down with De-glosser, such as Wil-bond, to remove any oils and help the paint to adhere.

4.  Apply a finish coat of a quality oil-based interior paint. High temperature paint is not necessary.  You can achieve outstanding results oil-based paint.

Removal of Radiator

1.  Strip or sandblast the radiator

2.  If painting the radiator us a bare metal primer.

3.  Apply a finish coat of a quality oil-based interior paint.

4.  Reinstall the radiator.

Note – While the radiator is being sandblasted, this is a good time to perform repairs and paint the wall behind the radiator.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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