The perfect radiator paints for DIY enthusiasts

Looking to paint your radiators? You’ll need a tough, heat-resistant, and drip-free paint that will last the wear and tear of family life. We’ve got you covered.

A person painting a radiator white

by Ryan Houghton |

When DIYing, it’s easy to forget about our radiators, but more often than not, they’re in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint to liven them up. We’ve picked the five best radiator paints available in the UK, perfect for beginners or decorating professionals.

If you’re remodelling the bathroom - a good tile paint is a cost-effective way to bring some life back into chipped tiles.

How do I apply radiator paint?

In our list, we’ve included traditional brush-on radiator paint and aerosols. To effectively apply liquid brush-on paint, first ensure the radiator is clean, sand down any unwanted drips from a previous DIY session, and get applying!

All of our chosen radiator paints require no primer at all - so they can be directly applied to the surface.

With many of our paints, it’s a good idea to crack a few windows open, ensuring that while painting, there’s plenty of air in the room. Not only does it help with drying, but it ensures you won’t feel nauseous as these paints are toxic.

Ventilation is especially important when using any aerosol paints - you may also want a mask to avoid breathing in any nasty chemicals.

Two paint rollers and a brush in a paint roller tray next to a colour palette swatch
©Blue Bird/ Pexels

To apply the aerosol paint, it's a good idea to cover the painting area with protective plastic sheets. Doing this will ensure none of the paint goes on the surrounding walls.

If you can, it's a great idea to dismount the radiator from the wall for this step, allowing you to get a better all-round coat. Avoid your precious walls and furniture that may require more DIY to fix!

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Shake the aerosol can well - for at least a minute. Then in vertical sprays, cover the radiator from at least 15cm away. Try not to overspray on the first coat as the result will look too thick and will easily chip away.

Wait about an hour (dependent on the product) before applying a second coat (if needed).

Hammerite Direct to Rust Metal Paint - Smooth White Finish 250ml

Specifications:

Available colours: 15 colours (1 available in stock)

Available size(s): 250ml, 750ml, 2.5l (only 250ml available now)

Coverage: 5m2/l

Finish: Smooth

Drying time: Two hours

Overview:

Despite being a metal paint, Hammerite’s Direct to Rust Metal Paint is perfect for use on the radiator.

Extremely durable, quick-drying, with a beautifully flawless smooth finish, what’s not to love? Despite its rather meagre coverage, due to being quite a thick paint, it’ll be plenty for your radiator painting needs.

To top it off, if you’ve any paint spare, you can always use it on garden fences or any metal furnishings outside, and Hammerite guarantees eight years of rust protection for additional peace of mind.

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Be sure to ventilate your room well while painting as Hammerite’s metal paint is quite a potent paint and can cause drowsiness!

Review:

“I didn't want to buy the more expensive radiator paint, so I bought this to paint the radiator instead. After sanding, the paint went on smoothly in one coat as no primer is needed. I smoothed out any paint bumps to a nice finish and I'm very pleased with the results. I'd waited years to sand and repaint the bathroom radiator and I'm glad I eventually did so.”

Hammerite 400ml Radiator Enamel Aerosol- Satin

Specifications:

Available colours: One

Available size(s): 400ml

Coverage: 5m2/l

Finish: Satin

Drying time: 2 hours (touch dry)

Overview:

A perfect alternative to traditional metal paint, Hammerite’s aerosol enamel paint is perfect for amateur DIYers who want a perfectly smooth finish on their radiator without the hassle.

Exceptionally easy to apply, quick-drying, and above all tough with a beautiful satin finish, Hammerite’s Radiator Enamel Aerosol is the be-all-end-all solution for your rusty radiators.

Best of all, Hammerite’s Enamel Aerosol is at an amazing value, offering a finish that is largely indistinguishable from traditional metal paints.

Once again, ventilation is key! If possible, spray the radiators in an outdoor or very well-ventilated area, and wear a mask.

Review:

“After sanding down and washing my radiators, I used this paint and they've come up like new with a smooth enamel finish. It was fast drying between the layers - and then I left it a good 48 hours before turning them on. The end result is fantastic and the radiators look new again.”

JENOLITE Directorust Radiator Enamel Paint Aerosol - White Gloss

Specifications:

Available colours: Three available colours (black, white, silver)

Available size(s): 400ml, 1200ml

Coverage: 10m2/l

Finish: Gloss

Drying time: One hour (touch dry)

Overview:

At a fantastic value, Jenolite’s incredible hardy Directorust Radiator Enamel Paint is another perfect option for a quick, yet brilliant finish on scuffed radiators. Completely heat-resistant (up to 130 ºC), and totally wear and tear proof, Jenolite’s enamel paint aerosol is perfect for amateurs and pros who want a speedy painting solution without any additional hassle.

Vastly cheaper than typical enamel paint options with the same flawless gloss finish and protection, this aerosol really is a no-brainer.

Of course, as this is aerosol paint, be sure to ventilate your room well and wear a mask as this paint is a serious irritant.

Review:

"If you want to reinvigorate your radiators then this is the product you need. I used this item on the radiator in my spare room which had become chipped over the years. A couple of light coats after masking up the surrounding area and the radiator was as good as new. I now intend to use it on the other radiators in my house."

Hammerite Radiator Paint 500ml (Satin White)

Specifications:

Available colours: Satin White

Available size(s): 500ml

Coverage: 7m2/l

Finish: Satin

Drying time: 6 hours

Overview

Yet another Hammerite product, Hammerite’s Satin White radiator paint is extremely hard wearing, streakless and drip-free paint that is incredibly easy to apply, even for beginners.

While not as convenient as an aerosol, you also don’t have to deal with the hassle of cordoning off an area to protect your furniture from any rogue paint spray that is far more difficult to avoid than traditional brush-on paint.

However, this paint does take significantly longer to dry than aerosol paints due to its thicker formula, plus it’s still quite chemically strong-smelling, so you still need to ventilate your painting area well! It’s also best to avoid skin contact with the paint as it may cause irritation.

Review:

“Just what I wanted. I’m a 21 year old female who has no clue about decorating, but did this on my own and honestly it was so easy. The end result is perfect, thought I would need two coats but one was absolutely fine. Looks as good as new. No streaks (make sure you don’t let drip marks appear at the bottom) and it’s left with a lovely gloss finish!”

Johnstone’s Trade Aqua Water Based Satin Brilliant White 2.5L with Avenue touch up brush

Specifications:

Available colours: White

Available size(s): 2.5l

Coverage: 10-12m2/l

Finish: Satin

Drying time: 2 hours (touch dry)

Overview:

Our priciest, yet our highest-quality pick, Johnstone’s Water Based Satin paint is one of the most advanced all-surface paints available in the UK.

Perfect for use on iron, steel, timber, softwood, planed timber and window frames, Johnstone’s Water Based Satin paint is a perfect all-round paint that is great for beginners.

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Yes, this is an extremely pricey paint! But with its excellent coverage, brilliant finish, and ease of use, it’s totally worth it.

It’s also super low-odour (as it’s water-based), meaning it’s far more environmentally safe, and is safer for you!

Review:

“Wow, paints have come a long way - and this is a fine example. I have been refurbishing a chest of drawers and a book case. Initially, I had pictured myself on a sunny week off in the garden doing this but the weather has been against me so I did the sanding outside and brought them in to paint under cover. How fantastic to be able to paint indoors - windows shut! - without my eyes running, lungs complaining and everything smelling of paint!”

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