How to paint these metal pipes?
December 18, 2011 4:47 AM   Subscribe

How to best paint these metal pipes in the toilet?

My boyfriend and I are moving to a new place, and we're going to paint it ourselves. Painting is pretty straightforward, but I don't know how to paint these exposed pipes.

I want to paint the walls medium gray, and the pipes in yellow. Normally, spray paint would be the way to go, but these pipes sit pretty close to the wall, so I am unsure whether that is the best option. But if not that, what? Laker and a small roller? That seems hard to do...

Also, do I paint the pipes first, or the walls? I am thinking pipes first, allow to dry, cover in plastic, and then do walls. Right?

To sum up, this is what I'm asking:
- How do I paint the pipes?
- What do I use to paint them?
- In what order do I paint?
posted by neblina_matinal to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I don't know if this makes a difference in the type of paint you choose, but I think those pipes (or at least the parts that bend) are ABS or PVC (types of plastic), not metal.
posted by Houstonian at 5:13 AM on December 18, 2011

Best answer: It looks as though one of those metal pipes is the exhaust from something like a water heater. You should check first that it's permissible to paint things like that at all. It might be a "code compliance" (adherence to laws about methods of building construction) concern.

If it's OK to paint exhaust pipes like that you either take them apart and paint them while they are off the wall (no idea whether this is practical with those pipes), or use a paint mitten to get the difficult parts and then use a brush or spray on the parts that show the most. Walls first, then mask with sheets of newspaper or brown packing paper, then pipes.
posted by jet_silver at 5:14 AM on December 18, 2011

Response by poster: The pipes are definitely metal (I banged on them to figure it out), and yes, they are connected to the water heater. Taking them down in order to paint is something I don't want to do. We are in Belgium, any idea how to find out if i can indeed paint the pipes?
posted by neblina_matinal at 5:41 AM on December 18, 2011

Best answer: The practical way is to go to the local Bricomarché or whatever hardware store you have around, and ask them. If it's commonly done, they will probably have the right product; if it isn't, there might well be a discussion among three or four of the staff about whether it isn't commonly done because of legal strictures or because of something else.

In some US jurisdictions (building codes vary in a patchwork, county by county) gas appliance exhausts are absolutely not to be painted. The concern addressed by some of these prohibitions is that such pipes might get hot and lead to smoke or blistering in ill-selected paint. In the picture you link to I see what might be some kind of yellow sticker. If the service has been in for a while and that sticker is made of paper, then the pipework is not getting all that hot.
posted by jet_silver at 6:10 AM on December 18, 2011

Best answer: Unless those are just loosely fitting air intake and exhaust ducts, and not something that makes a water tight seal, taking them down might not be so bad, just turn off the gas while you have them apart. But, if they are glued, soldered or threaded together then don't even think about it as it will be far more trouble than it is worth. If they're metal and never get too hot for you to put your hand on it for more than a second or two, then you should be fine. (Be careful finding this out!)

For most painting jobs, surface treatment is the important part. You will need to clean them up a bit (I see a hardware store price tag on one bit, for example) wash and wipe them down to give a clean surface (I'd use a rag that was just moist with denatured alcohol for the final wipe down - you'll want plenty of ventilation in there, particularly if there is some sort of ignition source). Then go over them with something like one of those abrasive pads that 3M makes go give yourself a slightly roughed up surface that paint will stick to.

Spray is probably not your best option as you'll never get the backs of the pipes. I'd pick a section, take the little wall brackets off (paint them separately) and then maybe try an enamel with some of those foam paint brushes. Then let that dry and put the brackets back on before moving to the next part.

You definitely want to do with a quality brush and paint for this project as cheaper materials seem to fight you every step of the way.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:14 AM on December 18, 2011

I cant open the photo to double check now, but it looks like the pipe on the left has a draft hood and is a flue while the one right is an intake. The intake can be painted with normal spray paint. The flue on the left gets hot and a heat resistant spray paint should be used.
posted by ihadapony at 9:48 AM on December 18, 2011

Yeah, the pic(s) seem to have been deleted.
posted by rhizome at 11:02 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: That's odd. Here it is again.

I will follow jet_silver's advice and ask the guys at the paint shop. I don't think any of the pipes get hot, but we're not living there yet, so it's a bit hard to tell for sure.

Thanks for the advice, it's been helpful. In case we can't paint the pipes, we'll paint the walls black and keep the pipes white - that's Plan B. I'll update with new pics in a week or two (hopefully).
posted by neblina_matinal at 4:54 AM on December 19, 2011

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