How To Paint Behind Copper Pipes [And Behind The Radiator]

The presence of pipes can make painting the walls a bit of a challenge. You have no choice but to paint behind them or the unpainted portion behind the pipework will always be an eyesore for you. Don't worry because we asked our experts for tips on how to get this done, and here are their recommendations.

To paint behind copper pipes you need to:

  1. Protect the pipes using painter's tape, newspaper, or thin cardboard.
  2. Use the right brush to be able to paint behind the pipework. A small paintbrush, hotdog paint roller, and paint edger should do the trick.
  3. Remove the protective cover and check if there's any paint on the copper pipes.
  4. Use paint thinner, paint stripper, or mineral spirits to remove excess paint.
  5. Clean the pipes and dry them completely.

Keep reading to know more tips on how to accomplish this project efficiently. We'll also tell you if you can paint over copper pipes and how to go about it. We've also got tips for painting behind radiators without removing them from the wall. Lastly, we'll answer if you need to use heat-resistant paint behind plumbing.

Unknown man painting central heating pipes on the wall during installation process, How To Paint Behind Copper Pipes [And Behind The Radiator]

How to paint behind pipework

Let's face it. You won't be satisfied if you leave the section behind your exposed pipes unpainted. You would always have that urge to paint them to achieve a quality result.

close up of domestic copper pipe plumbing

However, it is a tricky job with those tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas. Add to that the challenge of leaving the pipes themselves untouched. Yes, it sounds meticulous but with the right tools and tricks, it is simpler than you think. Here's what you need to do:

Materials Needed

  • painter's tape
  • newspaper sheets or thin cardboard
  • 1-inch paintbrush
  • hotdog paint roller
  • paint edger
  • paint thinner, paint stripper, or mineral spirits (if necessary)
  • scrubbing pad or nylon brush
  • clean rags
  • safety goggles
  • mask
  • gloves


  1. Apply painter's tape on the edges of the pipes where they meet the wall. Secure it in place and let it sit for about an hour.
  2. Moisten the pipes to cover them with newspaper. You can double the layer to make sure that the pipes are protected from the paint. You can also use thin cardboard and wrap it around the pipes where you'll be painting.
  3. Use your small brush to paint behind the copper pipes. Slow stabbing motions are the way to go.
  4. If you need to paint behind a row of pipes that run parallel to the wall, it's best to use a hotdog paint roller for better reach and coverage.
  5. Use your paint edger to paint the areas where the pipes meet the wall.
  6. Remove the protective cover and painter's tape while the paint is still damp. This will make it easier for you to remove any paint that may have seeped through your covering. Oftentimes, you can just wipe the paint away.
  7. If the paint is hard to remove, you can apply a paint thinner or paint stripper to the affected area. Follow the instructions on the label for its proper application. Wear your safety goggles, mask, and gloves as a precaution.
  8. Use your scrubbing pad or nylon brush to remove the paint.
  9. If there is still some residue, apply mineral spirits on the painted surface.
  10. Use a damp rag to clean the pipes and remove the chemicals.
  11. Dry the surface using a clean rag.

That's it! With some patience, you can achieve that even finish that you're after.

Can you paint over copper pipes?

A leaf spring and copper piping on an old steam locomotive.

Some homeowners want their copper pipes painted over so that they'll blend with the rest of the house. Yes, you can paint over these pipes, but there are certain things that you need to do to be able to execute this job effectively.

First, you need to clean your copper pipes thoroughly. There could be some chemicals and lubricants that have been left on their surfaces during installation. They will make it hard for the paint to stick on the surface properly.

To clean the surface, you can use a degreasing cleaner and steel wool. Then rinse the pipes using your water hose and dry them with the use of clean rags. Give them around two to three hours to dry completely.

Click this link to find this degreaser on Amazon.

After cleaning your copper pipes, you'll need to apply a light primer coating. When you see drips and runs as you coat, smoothen them over right away.

The metal primer will give your paint a good foundation and allow it to adhere to the metal's surface fast and effectively. This will also help protect the paint from temperature changes. Allow the metal primer to dry for three hours.

Check out this metal primer on Amazon.

Once the primer coat is dry, you can apply a topcoat. This will help seal the primer and provide additional protection against weather changes. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the number of coats and drying process. You can also buy a primer and topcoat in one so that there's no need to purchase separate cans of each.

Find this topcoat on Amazon.

When painting copper pipes, you have to use the right kind of paint so that it'll adhere to its metal surface perfectly. For exterior copper pipes, it is recommended that you apply acrylic latex paint. For interior pipes, use semi-gloss or satin latex paint. Again, follow the instructions on the label regarding its proper application.

Click this link to find premium latex paint on Amazon.

Work on one section at a time. This is a meticulous job if you want to achieve an even finish all over your copper pipes. Cover adjacent sections and those below the pipes that you're working on with painter's tape. You can also use drops cloth to protect those surfaces.

Check out this drop cloth on Amazon.

While you can paint your copper pipes, take note that experts don't really recommend this route. If done incorrectly, it might even cause some problems in the future. For example, it could hide the joints and junctions in the pipework that your plumber needs easy access to when there are repairs to be done.

Instead of painting, you can consider hiding your copper pipes by putting walls over them or strategically placing artwork and furniture to conceal the pipes.

How do you paint behind a radiator without removing it?

Plumber installing a new central heating radiator.

If that's too much of a hassle for you to remove the radiator since it will involve draining the valves and uninstalling and re-installing the radiator, you can paint behind it. Here are some tips for you.

  • Prepare your thin rollers or angled brushes so you can reach those areas behind the radiator.
  • You can also make your own tool by attaching a sponge to a thin piece of wood, old ruler, or bamboo cane.
  • Cover the radiator with cheap plastic food wrapping to avoid getting paint on it.
  • Paint the wall behind the radiator slowly but surely.

It will be a slow process, but you'll be satisfied with the result. The paint job all over your room will be even, and there'll be no trace of the old color even behind the radiator.

Do you need heat-resistant paint behind plumbing?

copper pipes and fittings for carrying out plumbing work.

You need to use a special kind of paint for metal surfaces. But what about the wall or other structure behind it? Is there a particular type of paint that's recommended to use behind your pipework? Specifically, should you be using heat-resistant paint on the wall?

As its name implies, heat-resistant paint can withstand high temperatures. It makes use of a special formula that contains inorganic pigment powder and polysilicon alkoxide as its binder solution. This paint can resist heat, flame, smoke, rust, and grease. Some heat-resistant paints can bear 600 up to 750 degrees Fahrenheit.

This paint comes in different colors, and it has various applications, such as the metal parts in boilers, water tanks, fireplaces, chimneys, and steam heating systems in a house.

But it isn't only these surfaces per se that can benefit from heat-resistant paint. Remember that heat transfers from those pipes to their surrounding walls through conduction, radiation, and convection.

This is why the wall behind them also stands to gain from the use of this kind of paint. Regular paint can peel, crack, or discolor when constantly exposed to hot temperatures. With the use of heat-resistant paint, they will have the protection that they need whenever there's heat coming out of the plumbing pipes.

Check out this heat-resistant paint on Amazon.

Final Thoughts

Painting behind copper pipes can be a meticulous task, but it's totally worth it. It will enhance the look and value of your house. Just be sure to use the right tools for the job and bring a lot of patience with you and you're on the right track.

Click these links for more home improvement tips:

Should You Paint Drywall Behind Cabinets?

Can You Paint Wires In A Basement Ceiling?

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