How to paint heat registers

Questions, answers and advice for people who own or work on houses built during the 20th century.

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How to paint heat registers

Postby KristenS » Fri May 20, 2011 5:39 pm

I'm hoping someone else (or many someones) has already done this, and can point me in the right direction!

I'm stripping the chipped and glopped on paint off the heat registers on our second floor. I think they're cast iron. Cause they're silvery gray, mega heavy, and they rust after six seconds' exposure to a humid day. Just like my cast iron muffin tins!

Here's a crappy picture, with the last of five layers of paint still partially showing, plus some stripper goop.
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I just want them black, to match the registers downstairs. But...what the heck do I use? Rustoleum? Do I have to prime with something special? Does it need to be heat-resistant paint? (We have forced air heating with a natural gas furnace.)

Hepl!
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c. 1907 Shingle Victorian/Craftsman
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby lisascenic » Fri May 20, 2011 7:05 pm

Because of varying VOC laws around the country, formulations of metal paint differ.

But if you go to a Benjamin Moore dealer, they'll sell you a great wood and metal paint.

I like the high gloss Impervex, which is water based and can be mixed to any color. It's a great product. There are also good low sheen direct-to-metal paints as well.

I'd use a medium-soft artist's brush, if I didn't own a paint sprayer.

Have fun! It will look great when you finish!
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby SkipW » Fri May 20, 2011 8:48 pm

If it were me, I would probably paint them with a satin black spray paint like rustoleum. Painting with a brush would be really time consuming and get glops again I would think. Once you have them really clean and dry, coating them with paint will stop the rust process, three coats will ensure you didn't miss any spots. And no, I wouldn't think the air coming out of your registers needs High heat paint like a barbeque grill :wink:
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby Nancy W » Sat May 21, 2011 12:59 am

SkipW wrote:If it were me, I would probably paint them with a satin black spray paint like rustoleum. Painting with a brush would be really time consuming and get glops again I would think. Once you have them really clean and dry, coating them with paint will stop the rust process, three coats will ensure you didn't miss any spots. And no, I wouldn't think the air coming out of your registers needs High heat paint like a barbeque grill :wink:


I spray painted a farm bell. First I removed all the rust with naval jelly, allowed it to sun dry an hour. Then spray painted with Rustoleum spray primer (I used white, a contrasting color, so that I could be sure that EVERYTHING was THROUGHLY covered in primer), then sprayed flat black Rustoleum. With the black paint in contrast to the white primer, it was easy to be sure that everything was well covered in black paint. There were no drips or runs. It has been outside for 15 years and still looks great. :D :D Just follow the directions on the can and spray repeated light coats to prevent the drips or runs.
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby KristenS » Sat May 21, 2011 12:31 pm

I was nervous at lisascenic's suggestion of non-spray paint. Because that's what got the registers so gloppy in the first place! (Lisa-- I imagine you're a much more skilled painter than I am. And I don't have a sprayer!)

So I'm happy to hear that others have used Rustoleum sprays to good effect. I think that's how I'll go.

Though I mentioned rust, it was more as a joke. The registers are actually in nearly perfect condition. It's just a quick surface rusting thing that let me know it was most likely cast iron.

As with the wood in my kitchen and upstairs, the glopped on mounds of paint have protected the original surfaces quite well!
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby melissakd » Sat May 21, 2011 2:44 pm

An important lesson in painting heat registers, courtesy of my PO:
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=22166&st=0&sk=t&sd=a#p186566

MKD
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby KristenS » Sat May 21, 2011 3:06 pm

Ah yes, MKD, I've seen that thread before!

I will be painting outside, on cardboard from our recycling bin. I did some chalkboard spray painting a few years back, and learned the cardboard trick then. It's good because you really should overspray past the edge when spray painting. Otherwise you have a tendency to stop short at the edge, and you get big wet spots and glops there.

My graffiti-loving ex-boyfriend would be so proud of me. :)
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby sooth » Sun May 22, 2011 11:38 pm

If they're cast iron, another option to consider would be to treat them like a cast iron skillet, and simply season it in the oven to get a durable black finish on them. Now I don't know how well this would actually work, but it's an idea I've been tossing around in my head for a while when it will be time for ME to do my registers. I'll either try this, or I'll spray paint them.

If you do decide to spray them, I suggest something like Rustoleum, and apply it in several thin coats. I trust this brand because I had an old (and extremely rusty) toolbox that I scraped down and cleaned up (as a teenager many years ago) and I sprayed the inside black, and the outside red and the finish on it is still just as good today (maybe 10+ years later).

If you're feeling more adventurous and want to try for a more rustic cast iron look: Clean the grille very well, then LIGHTLY coat it in vegetable oil with a paper towel. Then you just toss it in the oven on the top rack under the broiler for about 10-20 minutes until all the oil has smoked/burned/baked on.
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby Andy in NH » Mon May 23, 2011 6:39 am

I would stick to the rattle can (spray paint) method over the frying pan approach.

BTW - proper technique for seasoning cast iron cookware is low and slow - never high flame or broiler.
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Re: How to paint heat registers

Postby sooth » Mon May 23, 2011 10:19 am

Huh. Well the broiler method is one that I read about online, and it's worked wonderfully well for me on all my pans for a few years now. It always gives me a wonderful shiny black layer of seasoning. And because it's done in the oven, I also get minimal burned grease smoke/smell throughout the house.
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