A Fully Stripped Radiator

by Josh on December 30, 2009 · 6 comments

in Bedroom,Projects

A few posts back, I talked about my disappointment with my progress onstripping the paint from the radiator for my bedroom project. With the radiator already partially stripped from a prior session of less-than-satisfying paint removal, I found the chemical strippers I tried either a) didn’t work well,  or b) softened paint but produced strong solvent odors that I couldn’t adequately ventilate with the house buttoned up for winter.

Reader Tyler, commenting on that earlier post, recommended Soy Gel stripper, so I thought it would be worth trying another round of green/low-odor paint removers on my radiator. I didn’t find Soy Gel at my local True Value Hardware, but I did find some low-odor strippers I hadn’t yet tried: Hi-Speed Ready-Strip, and Jasco Green Strip.  I bought a container of each.

Radiator being stripped

In the past two days I have spent several hours working with these strippers to finish cleaning the radiator.  Here’s what I found:

It May Be Ready But It Didn’t Strip

First, a caveat: because I have been pecking at this radiator for a while with a variety of paint removers, the paint that remains has proven (for reasons that escape my understanding) to be tougher and more resistant to removal.  That said, the Ready-Strip also didn’t seem to make much of a dent in the  belligerent remaining paint. Ready Strip’s opaque white color also made it challenging to spot visual changes in the paint surface– at least with white paint. It has great vertical cling and lived up to its claim of low odor, so I would be curious to try Ready-Strip on wood trim where it might have a better showing. But this time, Ready-Strip just wasn’t radiator-ready.

Jasco Green Strip Gets It Done (Eventually)

Like Ready-Strip, Jasco Green Strip is a low-odor paint remover made without methyl-chloride solvent. Unlike the Ready-Strip, it softened the remaining radiator paint just enough for me to finish stripping the radiator, though it took two coats to do it. Unsurprisingly, the results were best at the end of the 45-90 minute working time, and Jasco Green Strip’s clear gel composition made it easy to see when the paint had puckered. But the most persistent paint patches still required a lot of forceful scraping with a putty knife to fully clean.

I’d say that in this challenging stripping project, the Jasco Green Strip’s performance was excellent among the other green paint removers I have tried, though not up to the standard of conventional, noxious chemical strippers. Here’s how the radiator turned out:

Fully Stripped Radiator

New Paint Is Next

Now that the paint lumps, drips and chips have been removed, the last thing I want is for the new paint job to be messy. Fortunately, my brother, an air brush painter, has agreed to help me put a smooth, durable new finish on the radiator. After a final wash-down with a TSP solution, I’ll be able to take the radiator out of the kiddie pool and get set up for painting.

Disclosure: I was one of five bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program and my DIY project as well as my posts about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy December 30, 2009 at 3:10 pm

We have so many radiators to strip and your posts on it are going to be a big help. They are officially bookmarked. 🙂 I also appreciate the post on moving radiators. Unfortunately, many of ours don’t work and we’re going to need to disconnect them to see what’s up.

Thanks and good luck with the renovations!


Shane December 30, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Next time, have it sandblasted 🙂


nina December 30, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Don’t know if you’ve tried Peel Away yet. They have 2 environmentally (low odor) safe ones, Peel Away 7 and a green one I can’t remember the name of. I’ve been using it on brick and wood and it works awesome. I think the easiest thing for radiators, since they’re metal, would be to do sand or soda blasting. You’d be done in a jiffy and they’d look brand new. I bought a cheap soda blaster and used compressor to soda blast the paint off my brick fireplace, but you could also rent them.


Jean January 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm

I’ve used a zillion strippers (at least on furniture) and Peel Away is so far above the rest, it’s like a miracle.

But I would have brought the radiator to a commercial stripper. If I could lift the sucker.


Deborah January 26, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I am in the middle of a radiator restore. Years ago, my husband and I managed to carry out, strip and then sandblast most of our smaller radiators. We then, by using Rust-oleum rusty metal primer and their enamel topcoat, spray painted them by doing two coats of primer and two of topcoat. 22 years later, they still look great and are holding up. The large radiator in our front bedroom on the second floor was too big for us to move and, hence, I ended up removing as much paint as I could by using a paint scraper and then hand painting by brush. When we had water damage this past year in the room, we had to remove the radiator away from the wall and I can see that the paint has failed in so many places. It is now time to do it right. But, now that I am older, I was hoping to find a professional group to pick up, restore and return the radiator. It appears that this is not an option. I live outside of Philadelphia (land of a lot of old and historic homes) and can’t find any business that does this sort of work. It now appears that it will be on me. However, because it is indoors, it looks as if I will have to use a chemical peeler, (I already have Peel Away purchased) since sand blasting should not be done indoors. This is probably why Josh did not use this option. By the way, look into systems made by Zipwall. For nasty indoor projects it has become a lifesaver for me and will serve as my temporary walls and ceiling for the spray painting part of this project.


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