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Can you paint radiators with satinwood?

So you’re contemplating giving those old radiators a lick of paint to bring them back to life. Maybe you’ve seen the price of specialist radiator paints and are wondering if that tin of satinwood you have will do the job?

So can you paint radiators with satinwood? Well, you’re a lucky sod, because we have done the research for you!

Yes, you can paint radiators with satinwood. Satinwood gives a tough finish and lasts a long time. It also handles changes in heat relatively well, making it great for use on radiators.

I can say this with such gusto and confidence because I have just finished painting my radiators with satinwood. keep scrolling to see how I did it and for the before and after photos.

Oil or water-based satinwood?

Much like gloss, satinwood is available in both water and oil-based formats. So which one will make the best choice for you? To help I will give you the pros and cons of both water and oil-based paints so you can make the correct decision.

Pros of water-based paint

  • Easy to clean up brushes and equipment once done – just clean with water.
  • Less dangerous fumes

Cons of waterbased paint

  • Tends to be quite thin – meaning multiple coats are needed.
  • Can be harder to achieve a perfect finish

Pros of oil-based paints

  • More robust finish
  • Goes on thicker – meaning fewer coats needed overall
  • Easier to acheive a smooth finish

Cons of oil-based paints

  • Hard to clean up after – need white spirit or specialist cleaners
  • Yellows over time
  • More dangerous fumes when compared to water-based paints

How to paint your radiator with satinwood

So now you have decided that you will be using satinwood paint and maybe you have even decided whether to use oil-based or water-based satinwood. Your thoughts will now obviously turn to just exactly how to paint your radiators.


As always with DIY, preparation is king. Fail to prepare – prepare to fail and all that. To achieve a really good finish you need to do the boring work first, sanding, cleaning and all that other stuff.

Step 1 – Turn off the radiator

This may seem really simple but many people forget this step and inadvertently end up trying to paint hot radiators, this will severely hamper the paint as you apply it.

Turn Your Radiator Off
Turn Your Radiator Off

So, first things first, turn off the radiator. Also while doing this ensure you have ample ventilation, maybe crack a window if this is possible. If you are not sure what is fully off on your radiator we have a handy guide to radiator symbols here.

Step 2 – Clean the radiator

Use sugar soap if you have some or if not warm water and washing up liquid will work fine. Use a sponge or cloth and give it a really good scrub.

Clean the radiator
Clean the radiator

Note: A toddler in full PPE is not required for this job!

Elbow grease applied here will really show through in the end so don’t be afraid to get stuck in. You want to get into every little nook and cranny you can and remove all dust, grease and grime.

Step 3 – Sanding

Now you will want to sand the surface of the radiator. We do this for a couple of reasons. one it roughens up the surface of the radiator giving a better surface for the paint to stick or “key” to.

Second, it removes any blemishes or imperfections in the previous finish. Removing bumps or paint runs if your radiator has already been painted.

Sand The Radiator
Sand The Radiator

You will want to use medium grit sandpaper for this, you don’t want a low grit which is going to be really rough, neither do you want a really high grit that will not remove enough material and just end up polishing the surface. Somewhere between 150 and 200 works well for me.

Step 4 – Clean (Again!)

Now you will have created a ton of dust, much of which will be sat on the surface of your radiator. So before you go cracking open that paint tin it is essential you give the radiator another clean.

Spray Down The Radiator Again
Spray Down The Radiator Again

I know no one likes to do this, but it is a really essential step. Use sugar soap and a damp cloth if available, if not then warm water will work fine.

Step 5 – Prime (possibly)

Now you may need to prime your radiator with a specialist primer. I really only advocate this if you have an older radiator that is showing signs of rust. An anti-rust primer will seal this rust in and help to stop it from getting any worse.

If you have a rusted radiator and don’t do this then the rust will “beeld” through to the surface layers. If your radiator is in good condition then you can skip this step.

Step 6 – Paint

Now it is finally time to paint your radiator with satinwood paint! After all that prep work you don’t want to mess it up now. So to avoid disaster just go slow and steady.

I used Dulux Once Satinwood for this radiator, I then also used it to paint a door as you can see here How To Paint A Door With A Roller.

Dulux Once Satinwood
Dulux Once Satinwood Paint
The Paint I Used!
Dulux Once Satinwood Paint For Wood And Metal
£13.10 (£17.47 / l)
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07/05/2022 12:07 am GMT

I used a gloss pile mohair roller and a brush for the places a roller wouldn’t reach. You can find out more in my Can You Use A Roller To Paint A Radiator? article.

Left A Really Smooth Finish
ProDec 4" Gloss Pile Mohair Mini Paint Rollers and Frame
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07/05/2022 12:06 am GMT
You dont need a tray
Load up the roller with satinwood

Get some satinwood paint on your roller and start on the side of the radiator. This just allows you to load up the roller and get going on a nice flat surface.

Start With The Sides
Start With The Sides

When it comes to painting the “ridges” on the front of the radiator you want to paint sideways. This allows you to get the roller down into the gap.

If you have paint runs here then don’t panic, we will clean them up later.

Paint the ribs sideways
Paint the ribs sideways

If you have really small ridges as I do on this radiator then you might find it tough to paint with the roller. So get your brush out and paint all of the dips with a brush.

If you have really small ridges you might need a brush
If you have really small ridges you might need a brush

With the brush start at the top and then work your way down, this will help to prevent runs. If you paint from the bottom up you will end up with a lot of paint build up down at the bottom which is likely to run.

When you have painted the full dip go back and give it another brush. Paint with large strokes up from the bottom, this brings up any paint which was pooling there.

Run the roller up and down the front
Run the roller up and down the front

Once you are done with the brush, if you ever needed it, you can go back with the roller. Take it nice and easy and just work on covering all of the flat surfaces.

With the roller, this actually goes really quickly and I found it nice and easy to get a really nice finish level. The satinwood paint was a real breeze to use here.

Let’s have a quick before and after before we zoom in closer to the finish level.

Radiator Before Painting
Radiator Before Painting

You can really see how much brighter the radiator looks with a fresh coat of Satinwood paint on it. You don’t realise just how yellow things like radiators and doors have gotten until you give them a fresh coat of paint.

Other radiator finishes