Painting Disaster Turns Air and Pipes Blue

The many jobs that have been ticked off the to do list during the lockdown have reduced the outstanding ‘must get round to it’ schedule. One of the outstanding tasks was to paint certain radiators, you’d think this any easy task but lurking in the background was paint that displayed ulterior motives.

It said ‘radiator paint’ on the tin, and as radiators were the target audience this was the bees knees, I thought. Now painting and I are not ideal bedfellows. It’s tedious, messy, and involves drips and brush cleaning. Now add in that radiators and associated pipe work are predominantly at floor level you add bending down and kneeling to the things to hate about painting.

We live in an old house which has three foot thick walls and stone floors. This means that central heating pipes run around walls rather than under floor boards. I console myself with the technical reality that these pipe runs actually deliver heat to the room rather than heat the void space under floor boards. Mice et al. would seek to contest this outcome.

Thus having updated the whole central heating system some years ago there was several miles of pipework, it seemed, to be painted. Some of it I completed soon after installation using standard white gloss, which worked perfectly although yellowing slightly with the heat. Thus the ‘ radiators paint’ seemed the ideal to complete the outstanding naked pipe work.

Now being a layman amateur in the realm of paint I need advice, which is habitually alien to a man person who ardently believes that instructions are for whimps, a disaster loomed. Later. All paint tins should bare basic instructions on the tin lid. This saves them from being obscured when the paint dips down the tin, which it does and will ever do. These intrctions should be in the form of symbols rather like washing instructions. They should identify the following.

  • Does it need stirring
  • Does it need undercoat or primer
  • Can it be brushed or used with a roller
  • Can you clean the brush with water
  • How long to dry or recapture.

These are all essential and acknowledged at speed before purchase and used before popping the lid.

Now back to my pipe painting. On my knees or lying down with old towel slid under the pipe to catch, the many, drips off we went. Pipe junctions were hidden so soldered joints and flux egress neatly obscured along with touch up to the base of radiators, we inched up and around the room progressing at an alarming slow rate. Creaking joints and much grunting the pipes around the room were finally done. Time to stand and reflect on the job well done = big tick ✅ ……..except the paint at the start had turned duck egg blue, a concept that was advancing around the whole project. I watched as the whole pipe run was in self destruct mode, my efforts sliding neatly and comprehensively down the gurgler.

After 10 minutes of quiet sobbing in a discrete corner I ventured to read the bloody instructions – revealed after wiping away the paint runs from the side of the tin. ‘Use primer on bare metal’ it read in tiny, tiny letters. Now I feel that radiator paint should be the go to guy for radiators and associated pipework, it’s all part of the same facility damn it. Interestingly the paint promo blurb stated that Radiator paint can be used on radiators and wood. Now I haven’t come across a wooden radiator yet unless it was something invented by Leonardo da Vinci but anyway how did they formulate a radiator paint that can’t be applied to copper pipe but can be slapped on wood? Maybe it’s also delicious with strawberries.

Alistair Owens

The meandering thoughts of someone with too much time on his hands. Tending to see the obscure and irrelevant in most events I have been forced to record this by family members as a means of diverting attention away from them. But I see their plan.

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