Brick + Beam Detroit

DIY Radiator Cover


After one of the hottest seasons on record, you might not be thinking about radiators, but if you’re looking for a summer project, simple radiator covers can be an easy task that can make a room feel different and function better. You may have walked into a house and swooned over fancy built-in covers that accommodate bookshelves or even breadwarmers. These covers are a simple fix and in some cases can be built with lumber sizes readily available. 

Covering your radiators up is definitely an aesthetic choice, and lots of houses have radiators that are themselves beautiful or interesting.
Why do people cover up radiators?

  • Aesthetic preference-- simply a design choice

  • Safety-- keeping the radiators out of reach for small children

  • Space-- If you’re living in close quarters, a radiator cover can create another space for books or household items. 

  • Efficiency-- depending on how the covers are built, the cover can help you to better direct heat into the room

There are lots of options for radiator covers, but the one we’re covering here is essentially a partial box that lifts over your radiator. 

Hunker's "How to Build a Radiator Cover"
If you want a simple, low-cost cover, we’d recommend a modified version of this Hunker how-to To allow for better airflow underneath the cover, adjust “Step 3: Nail the Base Board in Place”: Instead of the baseboard lining up with the bottoms of the sideboards, lift it up 2-3 inches. This gap at the floor will allow for air to be sucked up under the front of the radiator cover. 










A few other things to keep in mind when following the Hunker directions:

  • When you head to buy lumber, it’s likely you’ll be able to find widths that will work for you, so you will only have to trim them to the precise lengths/heights you need. Depending on the tools you're using and skills with carpentry, this might make things easier for you. 
  • You can also install a piece of sheet metal on the wall behind the radiator to helps reflect heat out into the room.

  • If you have small children and are worried about the stability of your cover, you could add brackets onto the wall to add extra security. 

This Old House's "How to Build a Radiator Cover Cabinet"
This Old House has a slightly more complex radiator cover how-to if you are interested in a different look and are ready to take on something a little more challenging. It’s worth reviewing both how-to’s to understand the concept fully, and to consider modifications you might want to make. 


This resource was created August 2020 by Alissa Shelton of B+BD, based on her radiator cover building experience in her 1920s Hamtramck Bungalow. Covers were built referencing the guides from Hunker and This Old House

Have a rehab question?

Ask a question in our Q&A forum. Experts are standing by.

Ask now
Ask a question in our Q&A forum at Experts are standing by to help!