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How Do You Paint Cast-Iron Baseboard Radiators?

burnham baseray

This past summer, we had Burnham BASE-RAY cast-iron baseboard radiators installed in our home.

One of the benefits of BASE-RAY baseboards is that you can paint them to coordinate with your room’s color scheme. This is also one of the drawbacks if you are a homeowner like me who has no idea how to paint cast-iron baseboard radiators. I wanted to do it right the first time, so I consulted the Burnham BASE-RAY Installation Manual and, of course, HeatingHelp.com.

Here’s what Burnham has to say about painting these radiators, “BASE-RAY and Trim are primed with a latex (water-based) paint and must be top coated with a high-grade oil- or solvent-based enamel to prevent rusting of the metals immediately after installation. Primer-coated products should not be allowed to sweat as a result of high room humidity or cold water in the system. The use of flat wall paint is not recommended since it may chip or crack when applied to surfaces that are heated. Consult a reputable paint dealer.”

What type of paint should you use to paint cast-iron baseboard radiators?

So I knew we had to paint them right away and that we shouldn’t use flat wall paint, but what type of paint should we use to paint our new, cast-iron baseboard radiators?

There’s a post on HeatingHelp.com about how to paint an old radiator that contains excerpts from a conversation on The Wall.  

Here’s what Mike had to say, “I am a painting contractor and we always use Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo to paint radiators. It is alkyd enamel that sprays well and has a beautiful finish. If we cannot convince the homeowner to remove the radiators so that we can properly paint them in our shop, we are forced to paint the radiators in place. We use either a hot dog roller or a paint brush designed to paint radiators (it’s shaped like a hockey stick and you can find these with a Google search). When painting radiators in place, the oil-based enamel has excellent adhesion to the marginally prepared surfaces. Latex paint is for homeowners.”

Since our cast-iron baseboard was already installed, we painted them in place. We used Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo, a paint brush, and a lot of patience. These radiators look great and are extremely quiet and efficient.

If you’ve had good luck with your radiator-painting project, share it with me below.

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