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How to Refinish Baseboard Heaters

Steve Bradley

Baseboard heaters are vulnerable to rust and pitting, especially when they are located in rooms that attract moisture, such as kitchens and bathrooms. Refinishing a baseboard heater involves cleaning, sanding and repainting the metal surface of the heater.

A brushable paint or spray can be used to refinish baseboard heaters.

While somewhat time consuming, this is a job any do-it-yourselfer can manage. Do this job in the warmer months, as you'll need to leave the heat off while you are painting and while the paint is drying.

  1. Remove any rust build up. There are two ways of going about this job. One option is to use a fine-grit sandpaper that is made for use on metals. The other option is to use rubbing compound. Either option works well, but both take quite a bit of elbow grease to get the baseboard heater down to a shiny surface.

  2. Apply a metal primer to the baseboard. Use either a spray or a brushable paint according to the manufacturer's specifications. Allow two hours drying time. You may need multiple coats to get adequate coverage. No metal should show through the primer.

  3. Paint a topcoat with a metal enamel. Either a spray or a brushable paint will work. Allow at least 24 hours for paint to completely dry before touching the surface of the heater or turning on heat.

  4. Warning

    Painting baseboard heaters with the heat on will exacerbate the fumes, as well as create a cracked finish once the paint dries.