How to build a decorative radiator cover

Updated February 21, 2017

Many older homes use radiators to heat the house. You may have updated the heating system in your home and now have unsightly radiators that you no longer use. Removing them from the home is one option, but cast iron is heavy. Instead of removing them, you can build decorative radiator covers. These covers can double as an extra shelf or place to put decorations or potted plants, especially if the radiators sit in front of a sunny window. This is a good project for novice woodworkers.

Take some measurements of your radiators, making sure to measure each one individually as they vary in size. Measure the height, width and depth of each radiator and add 3 inches to each measurement.

Cut your pieces of moulding for the frames for each side of the radiator cover. Cut two pieces for each length and two pieces for each height using the mitre saw. (You should have pieces for two sides and the front but not the back of the radiator cover.)

Lay out the frame for each side on your work surface with the front of the moulding pieces facing down. Line up the mitred corners. Place a bead of glue between the two pieces and then use a staple gun to hold the pieces in place.

Use the table saw to cut out the pieces of wainscoting to fit the moulding frames, leaving a 1/4-inch allowance all the way around.

Attach the wainscoting to the moulding frame using the staple gun.

Stand up the three pieces of the radiator cover and line up the corners. Place a bead of glue between the two pieces and then attach them together using the finishing nails and the hammer.

Measure the top of the radiator from side to side and front to back and add 2 inches for overlap. Cut the pine to this measurement. Use the optional plywood if your front to back measurement is more than 10 inches.

Place the top shelf piece on top of the sides of the radiator cover. Align the back piece flush, but allow the sides and the front to hang over a little bit to create a decorative lip. Use the finishing nails to attach the top to the sides of the cover.

Paint or stain your radiator covers as desired.


If you still use your radiators but want to cover them up, use metal screening at the front and sides of the radiator cover to allow the warmth to flow. If you have several radiators that you want to build covers for and are not all the same size, work on one at a time to eliminate any confusion.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Moulding
  • Mitre saw
  • Wood glue
  • Staple gun with staples
  • Wainscoting
  • Table saw
  • Finishing nails
  • Hammer
  • 10-inch by 8-foot length of pine
  • Plywood (optional)
  • Paint or stain
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