Home radiators are warm and cozy but can also be unattractive metal space-wasters. With their exposed fins, radiators have a unique ability to attract and trap dust, cobwebs, and other miscellaneous items while reaching temperatures of up to 215 degrees Fahrenheit.
Read on for DIY radiator cover ideas that can turn steaming eyesores into sizzling eye candy.
What Is a Radiator Cover?
Radiator cover kits are made to mask the fins while allowing the passage of heat. Because most covers have elevated tops, the covers' tops are significantly cooler, allowing select items to be placed there. You can even place heat-sensitive items like plants on a well-insulated radiator cover.
How Can You Make Your Own Radiator Cover?
Instead of purchasing pre-built radiator covers, you can make your own radiator cover. Many do-it-yourself homeowners create inexpensive radiator covers that look beautiful. To build a radiator cover, you only need a few materials like wood and aluminum, but sometimes soft materials such as a cane, fabric, and string, depending on the style.
Some builders offer DIY radiator cover plans and recommend using medium-density fiberboard (MDF). MDF is one of the best woods for radiator covers. This dense, synthetic wood composite is more stable when subjected to the radiator's heat spikes. Pine, popular, and birch are solid woods commonly used.
If you want to go another route, repurpose a bench, console, or shelf instead of a radiator cover and place it on top of your radiator.
You can also transform a radiator cover into art. Furniture designer Jason Muteham turns sleek laminated cherry, ash, and oak wood into a radiator cover that is a modern masterpiece. Based in Bekesbourne, Kent, Muteham makes other versions where he applies primary color Formica-type laminates atop the wood for an even more contemporary look.
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For your DIY radiator cover, take a cue from this eye-catching string art cover made by Boston design house Sandcastle. The yarn is interwoven in delightful patterns inside the radiator cover frame. If you decide to do it yourself, use natural yarns such as cotton, wool, or linen to avoid the possibility of scorching or melting with artificial fibers such as acrylic.
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Cane was practically made for building your radiator cover since it's a great visual shield yet allows heat to pass through—lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to handle. Cane webbing comes in sheets or rolls that you can stretch across the front of a radiator cover frame. Home blogger Chez Larsson recommends first soaking the cane in water to make it softer and more manageable.
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Poplar + Aluminum
This DIY radiator cover's poplar wood top isn't just a beautiful design choice. Since wood is a poor heat transmitter, it provides a cool top for plants and curios. The MDF frame directs heat through the center opening. The stamped aluminum grille conducts heat to the room while covering radiators. Home blogger Christina of Christina's Adventures kept the build super-simple by gluing the grille to the MDF frame with heat-tolerant Elmer's ProBond Advanced, supplemented by a few staples.
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What if your radiator cover could do more than hide the radiator? A long, deep shelf tops this DIY radiator cover by Familjemix with louvers directing heat toward the room. The radiator shelf allows indoor plants to bask in the sun in this picture window. Or add cushions and turn it into an instant window seat.Continue to 5 of 15 below.
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This simple DIY radiator cover is more about adaptation than construction. Though bespoke furniture maker Deanery Furniture built this table specifically as a radiator cover, you can similarly make your own.
Begin with a tall, narrow table called a console table, ensuring it is high and deep enough to cover the radiator. Many console tables are sturdy enough that lower braces are not necessary. If the table has a lower leg brace, notch it back deep enough for a radiator covering.
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Twenty vertical hardwood slats seek less to hide the wall-hugging radiator than to provide a charming visual distraction from it. This DIY radiator cover's L-shaped members run from the window sill to a footer attached to the hardwood flooring. Made by Design-Milk, it has pillows topping the radiator cover to offer a toasty DIY radiator cover bench on a chilly winter's day.
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One disadvantage to some radiator covers is that access is hampered since you must lift the cover straight off the radiator. New York City-based custom millwork and furnishing company 3F Living solves that problem by adding hinged doors to the front of this cover, permitting the homeowner access to the dials and knobs. For your do-it-yourself radiator cover, elevate the doors about 1-inch above the cover frame to allow neat placement of a perfectly sized seat cushion.
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Some radiator covers call attention to themselves by their craftsmanship and beauty. Others aim to disappear. When your home is built into a circa 1750 dairy barn in Denmark, you typically don't want to show off your radiators. That's why this design company, One Kindesign, blended the radiator cover with the shelving unit, rendering the radiator nearly invisible.
You can bring this look into your home by creating a wall-length built-in shelving unit incorporating the radiator. Just provide generous buffer room on all sides of the radiator to allow the heat to escape.Continue to 9 of 15 below.
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Extremely versatile, pallet wood has been used to make everything from side tables and kitchen backsplashes to ceilings and bookshelves. In this design by Lantiv, the narrow profile of the wood pallet is perfect for tucking away a radiator. Wide slats transmit maximum heat to the room. Pallet wood's cost ranges from free to extremely low-cost, so it's a natural building material for a DIY radiator cover.
You can find wood pallets alongside the road in industrial areas (be sure to ask the business if you can take them). Be cautious of pallets that formerly held food, chemicals, or petroleum-based products. Spills can be hard to remove from the pallet wood. If not thoroughly removed, these spills may emit noxious smells when the radiator heats up.
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Breathe New Life Into Old Things With Paint
Most items in a home get a new lease on life when a fresh coat of paint is involved. Freshen up your radiator by giving it a unique color (like black), or have it match your wall shade by blending in. Add hardware to a DIY radiator cover or give it some stencil art flourishes to give it more pizzazz.
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Some DIY radiator covers can be made to look a lot like false cabinet fronts. Camouflage your radiator with false doors and panels. It’ll conceal your radiator stylishly with nobody ever knowing what you have behind the door panels.
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If the radiator is in a study, bedroom, or living room and you have books to store, consider converting a bookshelf by hollowing out the bottom half. You can have vertical book storage that goes up from the radiator. Close the front of the bottom half with faux doors.
If you don't want to go up, like if you have a window in the way but want to go side to side, make it a horizontal bookshelf with book cubbies on each side of the radiator.Continue to 13 of 15 below.
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Mantels are not only for fireplaces. When comparing a radiator to a fireplace, people often weigh the pros and cons, like what heats more efficiently, cheaply, and safely. Now for another comparison: which wears a mantel best? Create a mantel ledge above your radiator cover and dress it as you would above a fireplace, giving your room an attractive focal point.
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One of the simplest solutions for covering radiators is to get a table of equal height and put it right on top of the radiator. If it's right near the main entry door, it's a perfect spot for a bowl for your keys or a vase of fresh-cut flowers.
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Similar to the DIY radiator cover idea for a bookshelf, you can get storage shelves or repurpose over-the-toilet shelving as an ingenious way to accommodate the radiator and give yourself extra places to squirrel away things. It doesn't hide much, so it may not be the best solution for covering radiators, but it's perfect if you don't mind the radiator and care more about storage space.