Rusting Old Baseboard Heaters

Have you ever seen a rusty old baseboard heater? Who hasn't? They're pretty much everywhere.

Everything made of steel will eventually rust and return to the earth. This is an undeniable fact and metal baseboard heaters located next to a toilet are definitely no exception. The one thing that is within our control as manipulators of this natural resource is to delay the inevitable process of oxidation. Way back in the 1950's when hydronic baseboard radiators were first being installed in hundreds of thousands of homes throughout North America, there was little thought put into how long the covers would last. The installation method was one of permanence; back plates nailed to the studs and hidden behind the element yielding no future access for removal. Short term thinking indeed.

The solution, of course, is easy slip-on Baseboarders. Delaying the rusting process is dependent on two factors; material and protective coatings.


It might seem obvious to use a material that doesn't rust to cover finned tube element heaters. One problem - the cover should conduct and retain heat energy. The two other common building materials; plastic and wood are both insulators and will have dismal thermal conductivity properties. Steel is the right choice for baseboard heater covers because it is easily formed, has a high heat conductivity rating, can be finished with very high quality coatings and is ultimately fully recyclable.

Protective Coatings

Steel that is exposed to the elements will immediately begin the natural transition back to nature, aka rusting. Fortunately mankind has come up with a few good low-cost and highly-effective processes that seals the material and delays this oxidation. Baseboarders use two of these techniques; powder coating and electroplating. When a thin layer of zinc is applied to bare steel it creates a barrier against moisture. Galvanized steel can be seen all over the place from outdoor sign holders to forced air duct work. Unlike the far more expensive nickel-based electroplated finishes like chrome and brushed satin nickel, galvanizing is pretty ugly. And that's why we powder coat over top of the galvanized steel. It forms a second protective barrier while adding a pristine semi-gloss white finish. It is a truly professional finish that will last a very long time. We guarantee it.

Now you've found the right solution to renovate your ugly old baseboard heaters, how are we going to handle the rusty back plate that does not come off the wall that easily? Baseboarders are designed to hook over that rusty old thing. Easy solution: if there is visible rust and other discoloration on the top surface of the back plate, a coat of black paint can be applied to just that top ledge. When the Baseboarders panel is installed, the holes will be black from top to bottom (no internal light-source insures the holes are black on the front of the panel). We've covered just about every kind of rusted out baseboard heater dilemma there is. If you are unsure how to approach your baseboard heater cover renovation project, please get in touch with us.

4 months ago