Steam heat is hot in renovating old homes. Bringing back the steam means cleaning and restoring old radiators to match the beauty of the room.
So when you want to get started restoring old radiators in your old home, here are a few things you need to know.
Spring and summer are best
Unless you are not living in the home, the best time to get vintage radiators stripped and refinished is spring or summer. Cold temps can pop up earlier than expected in New England. Expect a turn around time of about a few weeks or so for a full house of radiators, less for a one or two. Contact us and we can get you an estimate right away.
Cast Iron Radiators are Heavy
If you decide to go DIY, you will need to disconnect, drain and move the old radiators in order to strip and clean all the nooks and crannies of these old beauties.
If you decide to go pro, you must factor in moving and delivery costs for their restoration. Most places expect you to bring the items to them, increasing the cost of the project.
American Dry Stripping has a 24-foot, enclosed trailer that makes transportation of old radiators seamless and convenient. If you can get them to the driveway, we can move them from there.
Prep is Key
Radiators must be completely drained and dry inside. Cast is especially susceptible to oxidation so if any water is inside and drips out once the blasting is complete, rust will occur almost immediately.
Chemicals are complicated
Most states, including Connecticut, now have strict regulations on the disposal of toxic chemicals. So whether you decide to go DIY or pro, take this into account. Dipping radiators in an acid bath or using other chemical strippers is an option: one that requires the disposal of chemicals afterward.
Working with these chemicals on your own means investing in protective gear: goggles, gloves, suit and especially the correct breathing mask to prevent inhalation of toxic fumes.
Additionally, many old radiator paints contain lead, which makes working with chemicals and disposing of them even more problematic.
American Dry Stripping primary tool is air, contained in blast booths. We follow the strictest safety guidelines when it comes to blasting any surface with lead paint, including protecting our team with OSHA-certified blast hoods, body and hearing protection and using Grade‑D air supply. We use environmentally-friendly media whenever possible and ensure the proper disposal of blast waste.
Time is money
If you are thinking about restoring the radiators yourself, first do the math. Stripping and cleaning layers of old paint from ornate surface details and tiny spaces takes hours. Our method of dry abrasive media blasting (sometimes called ‘sandblasting’ though sand is rarely used anymore) radiators allows us to reach every centimeter of surface quickly, and cost effectively.
Any old paint won’t do
Cast iron radiators reach temperatures of 180 to 250 degrees F. They need to be coated with the right paint to avoid peeling, chipping and noxious off-gassing. There are high-heat wet paints available specifically for the job. However, they take time to apply and to dry, and still off-gas for a short period of time.
For the best result, we recommend you finish the job in-house with our experienced powder coating team, Xtreme Temperature Coatings. In powder coating, an electrically charged powder is applied to the radiator with a special gun, reaching all of the surfaces equally. The radiator is then cured in a 400-degree oven. The paints are available in a full range of colors.
The result is an odorless, durable and scratch-resistant surface that will stand up to the test of time.
Contact us to get your old radiator restoration started today.