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Painting Copper Heating Pipes

Question: I have an older home that has radiators for heat. Can copper pipe be painted? If so, what is the best method for painting the copper pipes that exit the floor and go to the radiators?

Answer: Copper pipe can be painted.

Make sure the pipe is clean. When the copper pipe was installed it is most likely that a flux was used to aid in soldiering the copper joints and fittings together. Because the flux ends up on the hands of the plumber when he is doing the installation of the copper piping it is highly likely that it is on the pipe. The flux residue and any dirt and grime that are on the copper piping will prevent the paint from adhering to the copper pipe. Hence all dirt and grime must be removed before you paint.

Use mineral spirits to clean the pipes. If necessary use a wire or hard bristle brush. Emery cloth can also be used if the grime will not come off with the mineral spirits. Make sure you remove the dust left by the emery cloth.

Once the pipes are clean use a metal paint primer and then a finish coat. It is best to choose primers and finished coats that are made for one another – the same manufacture. Follow the instructions that the manufacture has included on the paint cans.

Note: You do not want to paint the copper pipes when they have hot water running through them.

If you need additional support I suggest you visit a local specialty paint store, not a big box home improvement retailer.