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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2015

    Default Refinishing Old Radiators vs Rad covers

    We have cast-iron radiators with are badly chipping and need attention. The house was built in the 1920s so I assume that the paint that is chipping is lead-based. These radiators are located in our young childrens' room, so we need to find a safe solution but we are on a very tight budget. We are undecided whether we should refinish the radiators or simply cover them with rad covers. We are not very handy people and have close to no tools; therefore diy rad-covers is not really a option for us. Refinishing has draw backs as well: removing the radiators, chemical strippers, lead dust ect...


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Northern Virginia

    Default Re: Refinishing Old Radiators vs Rad covers

    One time I chipped all the peeling paint off a 20-section radiator with a flat screwdriver and a hammer. The rad was only peeling about 30%, but we knew it would be a repainting nightmare unless it all came off to bare metal. I worked on it for about an hour a day for a week or so, at the end of my regular work on that house (I was there for almost 3 years; big project) Short work periods because the pinging would drive everybody crazy, including me. Impact is a effective way to chip off thick paint.

    Radiators can be removed by separating the unions. You could then do the work in another space, or just move your kid while it's ongoing, use proper safety methods (thick plastic sheeting, HEPA vacuum, cleanup with tsp to absorb the lead dust). Unless you take off the elbows and valve and cap the pipes, though, you will lose heat, because the system has to be drained. In warm weather, no problem, you could probably get it all done in one awful 10-hour day.

    I primed with a red oxide primer and painted it with some kind of rustoleum, both in rattle-cans. If you have steam heat, then radiator paint or high-heat paint would be advisable.
    I went back last year and saw the same rad, no peeling and looks perfect after 13 years.
    Remove not the ancient landmark, which your fathers have set.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008

    Default Re: Refinishing Old Radiators vs Rad covers

    If you can't DIY then you're going t have to pay someone else to do it so my offering you advice may be moot. Of they were something I could unhook and muscle into a truck, I'd find someone with a sandblaster at their shop and let them have at it. Make sure they tape off all threaded parts and fittings. Done this way, any lead paint issues are on them, but given how the worker usually wears a sandblast suit or apron and respirator and the work done outside, I doubt they will care. Body shops, older auto repair shops, and machine shops are good places to ask or check the yellow pages.


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