Old-fashioned radiators can add vintage appeal to a room---if they are in good shape. But many are old rust buckets that homeowners want to hide. A wooden cover is a simple and attractive solution. Since a well-made cover will force the heat out through the front and sides of the radiator rather than letting it waft straight up out of the top, they can also improve the efficiency of the old system.
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Things you need
- Measuring tape
- Straight-edge ruler
- Staple gun and staples
- Small nails or self-drilling screws
- Plywood, or medium-density fibreboard (MDF)
- Metal mesh screening
- Paint and paintbrush
Measure the height, width and depth of the radiator.
Cut a piece of plywood or MDF to measure 5 cm (2 inches) higher and 10 cm (4 inches) wider than the radiator. This will be the front cover.
Next, cut two pieces of board to measure 2.5 cm (1 inch) wider than the depth of the radiator, and the same height as the front cover.
For the top piece, or lid, cut the fourth piece of board so it measures 2.5 cm (1 inch) longer than the width of the front piece, and 13 mm (1/2 inch) wider than the sides.
Use leftover board to cut four 2.5 cm (1 inch) wide strips. Two should be 10 cm (4 inches) shorter than the width of the top piece, and two should be 5 cm (2 inches) shorter than the depth. These will help keep the top piece from rattling around. Finally, cut four triangles large enough to anchor the adjustable feet to.
Mark the openings for the metal mesh screens by using the straight edge and pencil to make lines 7.5 cm (3 inches) in from the top and sides, and 11.5 cm (4.5 inches) from the bottom edges of the front and side pieces.
Drill small starter holes in the corners of the lines, and use the holes as starting points to cut out the openings for the metal mesh screens.
Cut three pieces of metal mesh screening so they are 2.5 cm (1 inch) larger than the openings of the front and side pieces.
With small nails, attach moulding to the insides of the holes cut for the metal mesh, or paint the inner edges and allow them to dry.
Attach the metal mesh screening to the insides of the front and side pieces with the staple gun.
Now assemble the radiator cover by attaching the side pieces to the front. Use self-drilling screws for the MDF and small nails for plywood.
Lay the top piece finished side up on the ground, and upend the assembled cover onto it, making sure the rear edges are flush.
Trace the inner edge of the radiator cover onto the top piece, and attach the four pieces of scrap strips along the inner edge of that line, with small nails.
Use nails to attach the four triangles to the inner corners of the radiator cover. This will be sturdier than attaching it to the wall, since the floor underneath old radiators is often warped.
Set the radiator cover snugly in front of the radiator, and adjust the feet to make sure the top is level.
Put on the top.
Tips and warnings
- You can also add a piece of sheet metal to the wall behind the radiator to reflect heat outward. Cut it to measure 13 mm (1/2 inch) smaller than the front cover piece, and allow for any connections that go into the wall.
- Make sure to cut out the back edges of the side pieces to accommodate the baseboards.