All of the rooms in our 1920’s bungalow have old, but very reliable radiators that have been painted over and over by previous owners. one of them has several undercoats in many colors, and the years of chipping has created an interesting effect that we plan to leave as is. the others, however, seem to have been painted and repainted with white or cream, and the chips are not as artistic, so we’d like to add a fresh coat of paint to these. it looks as if they have been painted with regular paint in the past, and we wondered if this was acceptable, or if we should use special paint for radiators. since the original 1920’s advertising for the house boasts that all of the woodwork was painted in “top grade lead-based paint”, we have no idea if the radiators could also have lead paint in their base coat, so we’d prefer not to sand them down at this point, but to just add another coat on top. should we use a special paint like (rustoleum, for example), or just use regular paint as it appears has been done in the past? thanks for your help!
Use (sealer-bonder -primer) from sherwin williams pro-block this will help bond the previous layers and seal up any dirt. get it tinted the color you want and apply two coats
Chances are that all the paint layers up to about 1970 had lead in them. I would not used rustoleum just because you are not going to be painting bare metal, if you were stripping the rads down then rustoleum or a good rust inhibiting metal primer would make sense. If you just want to use the brand it won’t hurt, but it is not necessary.
I would bet my last nickle that all of your radiators are painted with lead paint. I’m not sure where you live, but there are some places, like Mass., that require any lead on a “mouthable” surface to be removed when a property is sold. Not having the lead removed really hurts the value of the house. Also, if you have youngsters or pets, the lead can be a bad idea that close to the floor. You mention chips in the existing paint, which leads me to believe that you already have lead dust floating around the house. The safest way to deal with this problem is to remove the rads, and have them professionally stripped, either by dipping or media blasting. There are two other advantages to doing this. One is that the detail on the cast iron that has been filled over the years will suddenly show up. The second is that they will work as designed. There are also several options for alternate finishes that can be put on that are durable and maintenance free, so you won’t need to paint them again.
If you can’t find a media blaster easily, check with the nearest auto body shop. They will know where to do. They may also be willing to do the stripping for you. They may also be able to prime and/or paint them for you in their paint booth.
In my house, it is the woodwork that has lead paint. When I can afford to do it, I will be removing the trim very carefully, and having it dipped so that I can keep the original trim, but not have the lead paint around any more. Then I can also have the beauty of real wood trim, even if I have to stain it to get the effect I want. My house was built in 1904, so is only a bit older than yours. Good luck. They will look great after they have been stripped, and you will find your heating bills a little lower too.
We had the same problems when we owned a large farmhouse. We ended up, removing the old paint. And used hand sander to reach into the crevices, to take out the rest, that the paint remover could always reach: even though paint remover done a better job of removing the older layers of lead paint, it was still work. However no matter what enamel you or any paint you choose to repaint with, it will for a few hours, when first turn on to heat the room, leave an odd ordor… I have no clue if this is the old fashion hot water radiators, you’re speaking of, or the floor board kind, where pipes and coils run through. I take this is the iron-kind that stand upright, and take up space? which can easily become and eyesore with some decorations. We solved this problem. Built around each one, a new box, of tin- galvinized- metal, and preciously punched in holes to form a decorative design.(using a hammer and nail-punch) This served the old tin-ware look, as well as allowing the same amount of heat to circulate around the room.
Today we have painted all the floorboard rasiators and they have held up good for years: in face some got the same colors as the walls, and others a contrasting color. We tried to use th more dull finish, over satan, so not to bedome to much as eyesore.