How I Painted Our Old Radiators

At the very top of my To Do list on my phone lies my nemesis, 'paint radiators'. How can two measly words cause such dread in a person, and how can a project morph from apathetic feelings to full on hatred-motivation after staring at the same two words for many months? I'll tell you how that happens: we hosted Porter's first birthday party and I failed to get the radiators painted before dozens of people were in our house, so once it was over I had a fire lit under my butt to FINALLY start (and finish) this project. I don't know why that did it, but I felt motivated to clean them up once and for all.

Sneak peek: worth it!

Painting the radiators is something I've wanted to tackle for some time now, maybe even since we moved here. I know I originally looked into having custom radiator covers made because I thought they were ugly and dangerous and then we moved in and they bumped way down on the priority totem pole. We have also discussed sandblasting the heck out of the radiators to strip all of the old paint away, to get them back to their natural state. But that would require moving the beasts outside and probably is not going to happen. So more paint on top of the hundreds of layers of paint, it is.

I mentioned it in my Current List of House Projects post back in April, and one common question I've gotten from readers and friends is, 'Are the radiators too hot for kids to touch/are they dangerous?' I was worried about this aspect before we moved into our ninety year old home, but now that we've logged a few winters here I can safely say that our radiators aren't burning hot to the touch. They are warm (and excellent for drying/heating a bath towel!) but won't burn a kid if they put their hand on a radiator, or fall into one. If anything, my biggest issue with our radiators are that they collect dust like a mother and the countless paint jobs the previous owners did to these babies haven't held up well over the years. I'm pretty sure the last owners had every wall and every radiator painted this flat cream color and therefore cream has become my most hated shade in this house. We are close to having every square inch repainted or refinished now---floors, walls, trim, ceiling, EVERYTHING. But the beloved radiators somehow scraped by without getting our personal touch, mostly because it was so overwhelming to consider such a project.

I did paint Porter's radiator in his nursery with a brush, using the same wall paint for his room, and although it took me an absurd amount of time and destroyed my paint brush I liked how the radiator fades into the wall a bit (instead of jumping out at me with it's nasty yellowish-creamy-chipped-as-hell color). I figured that painting all of the others by hand with a brush was an option, a very clean and precise option, that could possibly take me ten years to complete. Nate says that detaching the radiators and moving them outside for me to get a spray paint assembly line going is impossible, since they weigh a billion pounds and something about draining the water from them, blah blah blah. SO, it was either a paint brush and a thousand hours or attempting spray paint and hoping that I didn't ruin the entire house in the process with the mess. 

After Porter's party I was staring at my least favorite radiator with disgust, noting the weird rusty/chipped area on the corner that constantly screamed my name as I walked by. I knew Nate wanted to paint (i.e. wanted to have ME paint) the radiators a wrought iron color to match our fireplace and all of the pulls on our built-in buffet, plus a few of our door knobs. I remembered that we had a partially used can of spray paint in the basement from our fireplace project and randomly decided to try it out on Saturday morning. 

Tell me that nasty corner doesn't make you want to dry heave.
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Let's give this a shot...
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I grabbed six drop cloths (which are basically just old bed sheets we've saved for painting projects), put them on the floor and taped them to the wall and tried to drape as much as possible. I should have worn a mask and gloves but I was feeling lazy, so now my fingernails look like I'm homeless and my brain cells have been killed. I DID clean the radiator as best as I could using this super long dusting brush thing, designed for radiators, sort of like this one. I did NOT sand or scrape the old paint because I figured my spray paint was made for metal and had primer in it, and: lazy. I opened every window in our house and placed three floor fans near the radiators and I started to spray the beastly radiator. I tried to corral the stray paint particles the best I could using cardboard beer boxes because I'm classy. I seriously considered creating a giant wall-o-sheets behind me, taped floor to ceiling, to stop the paint mist from spreading everywhere. I'm sure that having fans blowing didn't help the spread of paint but when I turned them off I almost died from heat stroke and fumes. Well-ventilated area? Sort of necessary for this project, I know. I did not make a wall-o-sheets to contain my spray but still think it would be a nice idea for the future if I didn't pass out from the paint fumes.

I immediately thought this was entirely too black for my tastes but it already looked better than the cream. Once I ran out of this can I started brainstorming about a possible color change since I knew I *had* to finish this radiator ASAP or the two-toned look would surely drive me mad. I texted Nate, since he was out with the two older kids, and said, 'I started a project, need to go to Home Depot later.' He didn't seem too alarmed but the kids were VERY perplexed by my choice in home project when they returned from their bike ride with dad. 

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Before I went to the store to buy more paint, I started becoming psychotic about the black paint landing on the floors, the table, the buffet, etc. I washed the dining room floors by hand, scrubbed the table and buffet, and was finally somewhat satisfied that I had gotten it all before it set into the surfaces too much. It's not that you could see black paint on everything but it was just sort of sticky and dingy looking and I could not handle it! I seriously considered just painting the rest by hand but Nate assured me that we could appropriately clean up any stray paint particles, PLUS I still really did not want to spend years on this project with a brush.

I went to the hardware store later and couldn't find any more of the Rustoleum spray with the trigger. I did find a lot of other semi-metallic options and finally, after texting Nate back and forth no fewer than 50 times, we settled on a Krylon version with a regular spray top button. This is foreshadowing for my complaints later regarding the ease of such spray paints!
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We chose the dark bronze on the left, thinking the hammered texture would be better for our old radiators (can I call them 'rads?') and went more bronze versus silver. I personally wanted a lighter brushed nickel or stainless steel look but Nate was adamant that would look horrible, so we compromised with the dark bronze. I purchased three cans and hoped they would cover my partially finished rad and also the bigger one in the kitchen. I believe each can was a whopping $7, so I'd say this project was fairly economical.

After the kids went to bed, I added a few more drop cloths to the dining room floor and repositioned my fans for the long haul. I sprayed the entire radiator and covered up the previous blackish color, declaring the dark bronze much better. The only thing that sucked (well, not the *only* thing) was that this standard spray can button kept clogging and my wrist/forearm immediately decided to cramp up in defiance. Lots of shaking, removing the little cap to inspect for clogs, and a fair amount of curse words later and the dining room rad had a new coat of 'dark bronze' paint.

It got a little tricky for the radiator feet and the underside of it, but I just did my best to cover everything and then had to use a bit of paint thinner on an old rag to wipe down any mishaps on the floor/walls. The next day I definitely had to clean all of the floors again despite my best efforts with drop cloths and the paint smell was pretty strong at first, BUT still a success. I secretly enjoy the smell of paint fumes anyway, but Nate was not a fan and poor guy had to sit outside with a cocktail while I slaved away indoors.


So fresh and so clean, clean.

Looks like a newer version of these 90 year old beauties, still not trying to be too terribly modern or anything.

Next came the kitchen radiator and I immediately decided to go for it as soon as I finished in the dining room. I definitely made myself a cocktail and turned on some music and tried to force my raw finger and thumb to work again. Same thing: drop cloths, open windows, fans, cardboard to help guide the spray a little, and lots of and lots of shaking. I later found out on Instagram that there is an adapter you can buy to make any aerosol spray can into a trigger mechanism, therefore saving your fingers/forearms. Will for sure be buying one of these next time!

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After (plus sweet Henry):

It's not perfect by any means, and it could probably use another full coat on it because there are just so many nooks and crannies and it's hard to get way inside of the radiator. But I like the end result a lot!

Glad we picked this color, could still be happy if it was a lighter version of this and more silver but at least it's gray-ish and not too gold/bronze, not cream, and not the black that startled me so much at first. And shiny now instead of flat!
So I did both of the radiators in one day, probably about 3-4 hours total?

I think when I buy more paint cans for the other radiators, besides getting a spray can adapter I will also see if I could get a small little 'touch up' size of paint that matches this color so I can brush the feet and the missed spots a little better. We will see, maybe I won't care about the little thin coverage spots over time....or maybe I will;) I'm sure I could get a small pint of this dark bronze color matched, don't you?

Next up has to be this giant radiator in our family room. It's partially covered by the couch but I still want it to match the others now. It looks white here but I assure you it's cream.

And chipped. And shows dirt like crazy.

Anyway, two down and three more to go on our main level. I don't care as much about the bedroom radiators but don't get me started on the upper bath radiator (hatred!). So I suppose I would have three on the main level and three on the upper level of our house if I was being crazy about all of them matching. I at least want the downstairs to match and I find that I need to plow through these type of projects before I lose steam and don't care anymore, so maybe this weekend? I won't hold my breath if you don't.

These Are the Days of our Lives | Summer 2015

We have twenty-nine contributors this season! Carve out some time on the couch/at your desk and enjoy reading all about a typical day in the life of others. ENJOY! (and let me know if any links are broken).

Adventures in Tullyland | Massachusetts via Maine


My Life in Transition | Wisconsin
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Live Inside my Bubble | Minnesota

Mama at Home | Swaziland, Africa

Sweet Turtle Soup | Florida

Life of Lacey | North Carolina

Bach To Reality | Wisconsin
Bach to Reality DITL 2015

The Hardest Job I'll Ever Love | South Carolina

The Foreseasons | Wisconsin

Non Sequitur Chica | Illinois

Saroy | Texas

Cocktails and Carseats | Wisconsin

Team Engelbrecht | London, England

My Married Life | Pennsylvania

The Joni Journey | California

Life as I Know It | Minnesota
Swinging smiles resize

Murdock's Mama | Iowa

Ellie and Addie | Missouri

LunaChick Runs | Wisconsin

A Gurley Gurl | Texas

A Messy Motherhood | Florida

Navigating the Mothership | Minnesota

The Smith Family | Kentucky

Peanut Butter Sandwich | Wisconsin
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News From Alameda | Minnesota

Rachel and John | Calgary AB Canada

Lisa Lisa Bo Bisa | Minnesota

Old Lady and No Baby | Oregon
View More:

Today's Little Moments | Nova Scotia, Canada

Porter at Twelve Months

The monthly photos for Porter's first year are complete and I cannot tell you how happy these collages make me. Symmetry! A healthy, growing baby! Bow ties and leg warmers! An entire year under our belts! I love collages these are my favorites right now, so please feast your eyes on this:

Porter 12 months floor
Porter 12 months chair

Yes, Porter's first birthday has come and gone and now I am going to attempt to update the inter webs on the past month in Porter-ville.

Biggest thing that must be mentioned first (with a significant amount of exclamation points and excitement)? HE IS CRAWLING!!! Sound the alarms, people, hallelujah. Yes, yes, many of you told me it would happen and I figured you were right (but also worried about him and couldn't picture him ever moving). Within the past month we've really been working with Porter in the four point position, in kneeling, and forcing more time on the floor and less time in our arms/high chair. And then on Monday (7.13.15) just a few days after his first birthday, we didn't celebrate the more common 'birthday milestone' of walking...but he did begin to crawl! And I can tell you that I was every bit as excited as I will be for his first steps (which I'm predicting won't happen until 18 months for my slow poke boy).

First crawling video here, and just a few days later he is already doing a better job of keeping his knees down and doing less of a Quasimodo-style crawl. He seems so proud of himself probably because he is feeding off our high-pitched squeals and clapping. I was totally going to ask for an Early Intervention evaluation at Porter's year appointment but I agree that it's not necessary now. Maybe he knew I was about to get serious with this mobility stuff and he didn't feel like dealing with extra appointments, so he obliged me this one time. He is just my little snail guy but hey, he is moving a bit now.

Not only is he crawling, but he can somehow move from laying down to sitting up on his own. This is something he has yet to do while I'm watching, but I have gone into his nursery many times in the past week to find him sitting up, chatting away. Guess we should finally lower that crib mattress, huh?

He is sort of trying to pull to stand if he can maneuver himself next to an appropriately positioned device, like dresser drawers or the ottoman. He can't get up all by himself yet but once in standing he can hang out there for some time. One day I caught him doing this very flexible yoga pose thing and then I died over his big tummy. He wants to badly to be up on those feet!
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Attempting a work out at a playground, unimpressed. But after I sat him down he got into this position alone.
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Working on kneeling!
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I put him in standing for this picture at the zoo, and then he totally toppled over and I was *that* mom holding my phone as my baby knocked his noodle.
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So, a HUGE motor month for my little Portly Porter. And I still say that he is incredibly verbal to make up for his slow motor skills, and this month proved he is a chatterbox that won't quit. His new word is 'Uh-oh' used appropriately, usually when he throws food on the ground. He will also shake his head 'no' vigorously when doing this trick, as always, and he'll say 'uh-oh' if anyone else drops something, too. He is obsessed with balloons (like, intensely obsessed) and will point at them and exclaim, 'Ba!' I think he is honestly trying to say 'ball' sometimes, and he won't let up until we all acknowledge these balloons in our home (post-birthday party). He'll say 'ba-ba' for 'bye-bye' sometimes and 'buh' when he itches his baby buns in the bath. Something about having no diaper on his backside makes this kid go nuts with scratching back there, possibly just to see me tell him 'no' over and over again. He is such a goof. Also: I said 'GoGo' while my mom and I were hanging with Porter during swimming lessons and Porter looked at her and said 'Go-Go'. I kid you not. As you can imagine, my mom nearly croaked.


He's also into the 'gah' sound and 'ma' and 'da'. He will call Henry 'gah-gah' and sometimes me 'mama' but mostly he just likes to make noises non-stop, with inflection like he is telling us elaborate stories. If I ask him, 'Where is daddy?' he will look around and just wave at anything he sees, even when Nate is at work. It's kind of my favorite but I guess I should actually reserve that question for when Nate is home and able to wave back to our boy. I think pointing is Porter's favorite thing, though. He will point at everything--picture frames, his tree decals on his wall, ceiling fans, food---and then ask, 'Bah?' Mostly I think he wants to know if he can put any of those items in his mouth.

Other tricks: Porter loves to dance and play on his toy drums (on an Elmo book) and his toy guitar. Dancing, talking video here. He is just so verbal and so happy, I can't stop taking videos to remember this boy before he is speaking in full sentences. He's also entered the phase of playing with pots and pans, putting small toys inside of containers, and showing off his new-found mobility to head right towards electric cords. Of course. He loves to hand us toys, then take them back, and hand them to us once more. Very into sharing lately! Playing peekaboo or making very loud sounds for him will cause incredible belly laughs from our boy, so it's something we do often, duh.

He will give open mouthed kisses on command and prefers me to talk into his mouth while we smooch. Weird, I know, but also adorable.
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He loves swings, water (especially splashing in the water), and is on a mission to eat dirt specks nobody notices until he is partially consuming them. He also loves his siblings like woah. Listening to Porter laugh at Truman and Cecelia is a highlight of being a mom to three. Both of his older siblings adore Porter and seem very protective over him already, and they like to keep him spoiled by giving him whatever he wants. This is a common theme in their relationship with their baby brother: if Porter fusses for a toy he can't reach, they will give it to him. I have no idea why he didn't want to crawl until twelve months, do you?

(swinging twins)
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(that belly though)
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(the man child is nearly bigger than his sister)
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Also, my favorite type of baby face---->The Scrunch!
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Sleep: Porter wakes up in the middle of the night one time, about 50% of our recent nights. Usually this happens around 3-4 am and he will go back to sleep if I give him a bottle. I really need to stop this habit though, since we are going to get rid of bottles in favor of the sippy cup soon. Bedtime is around 7:30 and he will usually wake for the day around 6:30, and I'm going to blame the night time wake ups on teething. He is due for another tooth, still with the same six he had last month, or maybe he wakes up because he is working so hard on becoming mobile during the day. WHO KNOWS. Naps happen around 9 and 1, usually totaling about 3 hours between the two of them. I also make him skip his morning nap most of the days we are home together during the week and he does alright with that, just napping once for about 3 hours instead.

(Okay, sorry, but THIS FACE!!!)

(Brothers playing outside)

(He used to fit inside of my belly. Does this boggle anyone else's mind??)
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Eating: Someone is seriously becoming a picky eater! He loves cheese pizza, any and all carbs (especially bread, cheesy puffs, and pretzels), and Greek yogurt. He is not a fan of most fruits anymore (unless freeze dried) and will let you know by spitting everything out and then tossing it on the floor. We gave him peanut butter for the first time this month and he loves it! Which is great because we are a big PB family, very happy he doesn't seem to be allergic. Really hoping he returns to his previous ways of eating a variety of foods---again, might just blame teething for this one.

See, he isn't smiling 24/7:

(Pizza=happiness, except when you are Cecelia and nothing is right with the world)
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(yogurt boy)
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(McDonalds with the three kiddos--Porter is pleased as punch).
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We are still doing bottles and have just started doing 50/50 for whole milk and formula. He usually gets 3-4 bottles a day, either a 4 oz or a 6 oz bottle each time. We have done sippy cups with the 50/50 mix and it HAS to be warm for him to give it a shot. Usually he will have a bottle when he wakes up, again before his second nap, and before bed with an occasional one thrown in there after his second nap. The pediatrician said that 12-20 oz of milk at this age is good so we will just try to wean off bottles, onto sippy cups, and give him one with each meal and a snack. Will see how that goes, I suppose.

Stats: I just had his one year appointment, and Porter is now 22lbs 11oz (72%), and 30" long (52%). He is in all 18 or even 24 month clothes, because the 18s are getting pretty snug. Size 4 diapers. Size awesome gut.
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(I mean, how do I even describe this face?)
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(Teeth! And not a fan of being held upright by big brother)

(Big fan of bubbles)
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A few firsts...
(First carousel ride, was not scared at all despite his stunned look here. Also, death grip on my phone)
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(First time feeding the giraffes with Gogo in town).
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Oh Porter, we just love you so much. One year old and you somehow keep getting better. He might not be our first rodeo, and we aren't allowed to have favorites, but this child is simply magic.

First birthday party success.

These three kids, man. Can't believe they are ours sometimes. Porter really does complete this family, it's true.



Love you so much, buddy!! Happy one year!

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