How to Paint Behind a Radiator, Into Tight Gaps, or Behind Pipes
Using a regular paint brush means you can see where the colour changes
How to paint behind a radiator
If you enjoy doing DIY, a quick way to freshen up a room is to repaint it a new colour. When painting a room, there are often pipes and radiators in the way, or tight gaps and awkward spaces which are difficult to work around. These areas usually need the paint to be applied behind them, or between them, otherwise you can see where the new paint colour stops which spoils the effect. Not getting a smooth finish in these spots can make the whole decor look unprofessional and ugly, so take some time to get it right and be proud of the results.
Make a free painting tool
To create a more professional finish, paint should be put on the wall behind the radiators, pipes and other obstructions, but it isn't easy to do well. There are some thin rollers and some angled brushes on the market, but sometimes these are not small enough, or they don't have a long enough handle. And if you need the tool for just one job, you don't want to spend the money.
To get around the problem of how to paint behind a radiator without removing it, I make a simple, free tool each time which does the job really well. It takes minutes to put together and is perfect for the job.
1 - You need a length of wood which is left over from another job, something narrow and slightly flexible. I use the same pieces of dowling each time so I make sure I keep hold of it, and this piece of wood is also useful for stirring the paint too. You could use a bamboo cane, floor edging, trim, beading or battening - it just needs to be slim enough to easily slide between gaps. Have a look around the workshop, garage or shed for the right length and shape, but if you don't have anything, purchasing a piece of edging or dowling is very cheap - you don't need anything fancy and could even check the bargain bin for a damaged piece.
2 - Next you need a piece of sponge, I use an old car sponge but you could also use a kitchen sponge or a bathroom sponge, if you don't have one these are cheap and can usually be picked up at the corner shop. It doesn't have to be new, just clean and grease free. You can throw it out after you have used it for painting.
3 - You need a regular stapler which opens wide and four of five staples.
4 - A pair of scissors.
All you need to paint behind radiators without removing them
Cut the sponge
Now you have all of the things you need, it's time to put them together.
1. - First of all, cut the sponge into a rectangle about 4 cm square, and trim it so it's thin enough to go down the gap you are going to work on. You can cut this in any shape or size you feel you need to get the work done, sometimes a triangular shape is handy to get into really tiny gaps. You can make a different sponge for each job you are going to tackle, you can alter it to suit you. The smaller it is, the longer it will take to paint an area, but the easier it will be to complete a beautiful finish.
2. - Next, simply staple it onto the end of the wood, use 3 or 4 staples to keep it secure. Make sure the staples have gone all the way in and are flat, otherwise you might find the metal scrapes the wall you are painting and leaves an uneven finish. If the staples are aren't fully flat, tap them with a small hammer until they are. That’s all there is to it!
Staple the sponge onto the wood
Use your new painting tool
Tips to make it easier
Tips on painting into tiny gaps, behind radiators and between pipes:
To get a neat result, take it slowly. Spend a bit of time over it, and you will be pleased with your work. Using a small tool like this will be slow going, but it is much quicker than taking the radiator off the wall and much less stressful.
When painting behind a radiator, cover the whole heater in a cheap cling film/plastic food wrapping before you start. If you have one of those rolls of plastic for packing boxes, then that is the perfect stuff but any clingy, film that just sticks to itself is good enough - so you don't have to tape it in place. It is inevitable that you will brush your painting sponge onto the top or side of the radiator - but if it is wrapped in plastic it won’t matter.
For painting behind pipes, first cover pipes in tape - I often use parcel tape because it is wider and will wrap all around a water pipe in one piece lengthways. Again, taking the time to protect areas you don't want paint on will save you time trying to remove mistakes later. Have a rag handy, though, just in case because wiping paint off immediately is better than trying to get it off once it has dried a little.
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