How to Build a Wooden Radiator Cover
Begin by measuring the heater. You need to know the distance it protrudes from the wall, the distance from the top of the heater from the floor, and how wide the heater is. Plan on adding 3 inches to all of your radiator measurements to encourage proper air circulation. You should also consider the proportions of your radiator cover in relation to all of the other elements in the room. You may want to make a taller or wider radiator cover than is necessary to compliment the overall feel of the room.
A radiator cover is essentially a three sided box that allows good air flow. For these reason, at least the front panel of your radiator cover and preferably the sides will be vented. Plan on cutting out large sections of the sides of your box and inserting something that will allow air flow.
For a traditional look, consider buying metal screening that you can paint to match your room. Available in many patterns and at several price points, there are many attractive options for the home. Another option is using upholstery fabric in place of the screening, or drilling a pattern off holes directly into the radiator cover. A system of carefully spaced wood slats would also be an attractive option. Keep in mind that the goal is to obstruct the radiator while creating an attractive covering that will blend in with the rest of the room’s components.
With the material for the vents chosen, you should then construct the box to your measurements. If you plan on painting the radiator cover, you can use MDF or even a high grade plywood. For radiator covers you plan to stain it is best to buy a good quality wood.
Cut the three main pieces of the radiator cover: the front piece and the two side pieces. It is a good idea to cut away some of the bottom of these pieces to create legs and allow for even more air flow. An alternative is to cut all of the pieces shorter and add furniture legs to the bottom of the cover to support it over the radiator.
Next cut the hole or holes out of the sides of the box that will be covered with metal screening or fabric. Attach the three pieces together with finishing nails to create a three sided box, set the nail heads, and putty over the resulting holes.
Cut a piece to act as the top of the radiator cover. Do not attach this to the rest of the radiator cover. Consider what kind of overlap you wish to have. You can attach cleats to the underside of the radiator cover top to make sure that it does not move accidentally.
Sand the pieces carefully and then stain or paint to match your room. Allow the pieces to dry thoroughly. Then attach the fabric, screening, or other material you have chosen to allow ventilation. For most materials you can use a staple gun to secure the pieces to the wrong side of the radiator cover.
A radiator cover is a great project for someone who is does not have experience with do it yourself projects. By using hand tools and some careful planning you can create a great piece of furniture that will add character to the room. Best of all, the materials are inexpensive enough that mistakes can easily be rectified by cutting new pieces and starting again. Of course, if these project seems daunting, several models are available for sale on the internet.