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Making Wooden Radiator Covers

I would really like to make wooden radiator covers since the metal ones rattle when we step on the floor near them, and are ugly in general.

But I do have some questions

1) For those that have made the switch from metal to wooden covers, does the level of heat decrease? I ask this since I think the metal would keep the heat for longer, effectively heating the room for longer. Since we live in the NE I would much rather have a warm room with ugly covers than a slightly colder room with good looking covers.

2) Also, how do I make the wood not catch on fire? I ask this since the metal radiator covers get pretty hot when we turn on the heat...

3) Is interior paint just fine for this?

Thanks, if you have done this please share some info!

Re: Making Wooden Radiator Covers

Even with wood rad covers, one has to do careful assembly to avoid rattling of loose parts---wood rad covers usually must have large metal screen segments to allow the heat out.

Max. heat from a rad would be 212 degrees (steam) or 200 degrees (hot water)---wood is widely used for rad covers since it takes twice these numbers for it to burn---however a lot of screening & open spaces at the bottom are needed to let in room air so it can be heated by the rad & expelled out the top of the rad cover into the room (convective heat currents).

Rads heat a room in 2 ways: a) by convective heat currents, as just explained, & b) by invisible radiant heat waves (much like visible sunlight).

The radiant waves are limited to some extent by the rad cover, but when these heat up, they also emit radiant waves---bare rads would be best, but are often impractical for appearances sake.

Ordinary interior paint should be fine---there may be a slight loss of heating efficiency using wood instead of metal, but wood DOES make a better appearance---just make sure the metal screen sections are large so an effective heat current (warmer air rises by itself in a room) will circulate the hot air thru the room evenly.

Having the rad directly under a window is also important in dampening cold air from the window, & encouraging hot air circulation throughout the room from the rad.

Notice in the links below that at least a 2" space is left at the bottom of the rad cover so that colder room air can come in from the bottom, heat up, & flow out the top of the rad cover.

Google "making wood radiator covers" for more sites.


Re: Making Wooden Radiator Covers

My company BattyBuilt specializes in designing and building custom radiator covers to suit any style, any room. We serve Westchester NY, Manhattan and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut.

As I'm new to This Old House discussion boards, I can't yet post an active link to my site.

But if you type battybuilt.com into your browser you'll be able to see samples of the work we do.

We apply an adhesive insulation to the interior surfaces of our wooden radiator covers. It's the same insulation used for home heating pipes and ducts. It keeps the wood from getting too hot and helps direct the heat out from the enclosure.

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