It’s not often you come across a controversial topic involving radiators, but the question of colour does seem to be a bit divisive. There’s a school of thought that says that radiators should be painted in dark colours – ideally black – as they’re better at absorbing heat and will thus be more efficient. Another prevalent belief is that radiators shouldn’t be painted at all, particularly in metallic paints, as the slightly uneven surface makes them less efficient. Do these claims have any truth in them, though?
Should radiators be painted at all?
The short answer to this question is ‘yes, if you’d like a painted radiator’. The longer answer is that radiators work by delivering both convection and radiant heat. Radiant heat works by heating other objects in the room directly and convection heat works by heating the air. Some people will advocate having a dark coloured, unpainted radiator on the grounds that black surfaces tend to be better at emitting radiant heat than paler colours. Painting the radiator will also add another layer of insulation between the metal and the room through which the heat has to pass. In practice, though, both of these factors will have only a very negligible effect. Far more important is that the radiator is correctly positioned, has enough space around it and is large enough to heat your room.
Are painted radiators better than bare metal?
Painted radiators are slightly more efficient than polished steel or chrome, as shiny surfaces don’t tend to conduct heat particularly well. So a painted radiator should be slightly more effective than one made of bare metal, but the difference will be very marginal. That means that the only real deciding factor is your own personal taste.
How to choose a colour for your radiator
As already mentioned, the colour of your radiator will have very little effect on its efficiency. It will have a huge image on the décor of your room, though! If you’d like your radiator to blend into the background, then you can paint it the same colour as the walls. If you fancy something a little bolder, you can turn it into a feature with a coat of vibrant colour.
For a good finish, the right paint is as important as the colour. Radiator paint has to withstand a wide range of temperatures, so choose a specialist product that will last.