In a country like the UK, radiators are essential, but that doesn’t make them pretty. You can put special radiator covers on them, but not only can these be rather expensive, they also take up quite a bit of floor space and with rooms shrinking that can really make a difference to what you can do with your space.

That being so, often the best approach is just to keep them looking their best with paint. With that in mind, here are some tips on taking care of your radiators and a list of what we believe is the best radiator paint on the UK market.

Best Radiator Paint Review

Five tips to make the most of your radiators

It’s easy to forget about radiators, but taking care of them properly will not only prolong their life, it can also reduce your heating bills.

Bleed your radiators when they need it

Uneven heating (typically hot at the bottom and cold at the top) is generally a sign of trapped air. The right way to bleed radiators is to make sure the heating is off and the radiator is completely cool and then use a radiator key to turn the bleed valve and a cloth to catch the water which will almost inevitably come out with the trapped air. If you can’t find your radiator key, a small screwdriver will generally do the trick.

Keep your radiator clear

In spite of the name, radiators are actually convection heaters, in other words, they heat the air and then the air circulates around the room. Anything which impedes the flow of air, therefore, will reduce the effective heating power of a radiator.

By contrast, putting metal foil on the wall behind the radiator will reflect the heat and improve the efficiency of your radiator.

Remember you can adjust radiators individually

Even though radiators are used as part of a central heating system, they can still be adjusted individually (at least modern ones can, old ones can sometimes only be switched on or off individually), so you can customize the heat output to the room and season, for example turning them right down (or even off) in summer.

If buying a new radiator check its capacity

The capacity of radiators is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) and there are lots of factors which will influence the minimum radiator capacity required to heat a room. We’d suggest just looking up an online calculator.

If your radiators aren’t working as well as you’d like, check your boiler

Ultimately your radiators are only as good as the boiler which powers them so if you really can’t work out why your radiators aren’t working as you think they should be, try checking your boiler.


A note on vintage radiators

Buying a genuine vintage radiator may seem like a great idea. You give an old item a new lease of life and get a chic, vintage look in the process. In practice, however, vintage radiators just do not perform as well as modern ones, they are difficult to install and often even more difficult to repair, so even if you do have a period house with plenty of space, in our opinion, it’s best to let genuine vintage radiators be recycled into something new and by modern ones, some of which are styled as replicas of genuine vintage items.

Painting a radiator

  • Regardless of whether you’re using a brush or an aerosol, the basic idea is the same.
  • Make sure the radiator is turned off and completely cool.
  • Sand the surface (we’d suggest 120 sandpaper). Dust and clean if necessary.
  • Start by painting the sides and then move onto the face. Paint the bottom edge and then start painting bottom to top in smooth strokes, up to the top edge. Finish by painting the top edge. Generally you want to apply two coats of your chosen paint.
  • Leave the radiator for at least 24 hours before turning back on.

Best Radiator Paint UK - Reviews

Here are our thoughts on the best radiator paint on the UK market. As we often do, we’ve largely focused on recognizable brand names as these tend to be popular for a reason. On a side note, radiator paint can also be used on other metals, for example, you could use it to touch up damage to the paintwork of kitchen appliances (or even get creative and give them a new look).

Our list is all based around white paint as this is easily the most popular, but some of these paints do come in a variety of colours, which can also be reached from our link.

Best Radiator Paint Review

Best Radiator Paint UK - THE LIST


Hammerite 400ml Radiator Enamel Aerosol - Satin White

Hammerite REG500 500ml Radiator Paint - Gloss White

Best Radiator Paint Review

We’ve paired these two products since they’re both radiator paints from Hammerite, which is one of the leading names in the area. Basically these are two of the most popular radiator paints on the UK market and they’re popular for a reason. They do everything you need them to do, they do it well and they’re reasonably priced.

Rust-Oleum 250ml Universal Paint - Gloss White

Rust-Oleum 250ml Universal Paint

As its name states, this is a universal paint (with primer), rather than a specific radiator paint, but we’ve included it because it does a perfectly capable job of painting radiators. It also does a capable job of painting wood, plastics and ceramics, so it could be a handy choice if space is an issue and you want a multi-functional paint you can use for just about any job.

It’s touch dry in an average of two hours, which could be handy in homes with children and pets who don’t grasp the concept of “wet paint”. This paint is available in a range of colours, we’ve seen 16. I've used this myself and it did a great job

Plasti-kote 26101 400ml Radiator Magnolia

Plasti-kote 26101 400ml

We have absolutely no idea why this is called Plasti-kote when it’s actually an enamel paint intended for use on metal radiators, but we do like the design of the spray mechanism, which really does seem to make the job a bit easier and so might be appreciated by those with weaker hands (e.g. if you have arthritis). The actual paint does a solid job, it will even cover the likes of rust stains on the second coat. This option comes in a light magnolia rather than white, but it does keep its colour (rather than going yellow).

Ronseal One Coat Radiator Paint Gloss 250ml

Ronseal One Coat

As you might have guessed from the name, the big draw of this option from Ronseal is that it you only need to apply one coat to get a life-resistant finish, which really does stay white over the long term. Basically it’s pretty much what you’d expect from Ronseal.

400ml Radiator Enamel Gloss White by Rust-Oleum

400ml Radiator Enamel Gloss White

This option from Rust-Oleum is only available in basic (radiator) white, but it wasn’t created with advanced aesthetics in mind. It’s durable, holds its colour and stands up to heat. Its aerosol format makes it quick and easy to apply and it dries quickly. Basically it gets the job done and does it well.

Best radiator paint UK - conclusion

To be perfectly honest, this is one occasion when we can’t really pick one specific option as the best radiator paint in the UK. We’d be happy to use any of them, so we’d probably be guided by factors such as price and availability.