Can You Use A Roller To Paint A Radiator?

By Sam Wood •  Updated: 10/12/21 

Rollers are a great way to achieve a high level of finish, because of this you may well wonder if they can work well on a radiator? Well, there is only really one way to know! I happen to have a radiator that needs painting and a roller, so let’s try it out.

What Roller to Use?

In order to get the right finish, you need the right sleeve on your roller. I recommend using a mini 4″ roller and a gloss pile sleeve.

These are the rollers I used. They worked really well and left a great finish. Much better than foam rollers I have used in the past which seem to leave a bubbly texture.

Left A Really Smooth Finish
ProDec 4" Gloss Pile Mohair Mini Paint Rollers and Frame
£7.39
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12/03/2021 12:03 am GMT

Preparation Work

All paint jobs start with the prep work. Spend some time here and you will really see the result in your end product. I know it can be tempting to rush this and get right into the painting but I strongly advise taking your time.

Sand the Radiator

Get some high grit paper, I used 240 grit, and start sanding the radiator. The reason I suggest a high grit paper is that you don’t want to make any gouge marks in the radiator as these will still be visible through your paint.

So work your way around trying to remove any runs already in the paint and any bubbles or raised spots.

Sand With A High Grit Paper
Sand With A High Grit Paper

Pay particular attention to any bubbles like the one you can see below. It is important to get rid of any of these bubbles or else they will show in your final paint job.

Make sure to sand out any bubbles or runs
Make sure to sand out any bubbles or runs

Clean The Radiator

Now that we have sanded the radiator it is time to clean it. I like to use sugar soap for this as it helps to remove grease and grime from the radiator. This will be particularly effective if the radiator is in a kitchen.

Clean with sugar soap
Clean with sugar soap

Painting A Radiator With A Roller

Now it is finally time to paint this radiator!

You dont need a tray

Get some 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 down at the bottom which is likely to run.

When you have painted the full dip go back and give it another brush up from the bottom to bring 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.

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 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.

Now let’s have a little closer look and see if any texture has been left in the paint by the roller.

The Finish

Looking closely you can see just how smooth of a finish these rollers have left. It says on the box finishes like spray and it has definitely done just that.

Thinking of painting a radiator then why not look at these other posts.

Sam Wood

Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!