While radiators serve a highly practical purpose, they can often present a design challenge. Check these options for making your heating look hot
Are unsightly radiators bringing your decorating scheme down? Because, let’s be honest, panel radiators are rarely beautiful pieces of contemporary design. Nor do they have the charm of traditional cast-iron radiators. However, when disguised with one of our pick of the best radiator covers, this essential feature of the modern home can blend in with the rest of your decorating scheme at treat.
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Radiator covers can be extremely practical, too. They hide intrusive, unsightly radiators and protect children from burning their little fingers. Some even provide extra storage in the form of an above-radiator shelf for everything from tealights to keys..
There’s a radiator cover to suit every style – select a sleek and simple design to complement a contemporary living room, or make a statement with an ornate shabby-chic radiator cover that features intricate carvings. A white panelled radiator cabinet would look great in a coastal-inspired hallway or bathroom.
Best radiator covers
1. B&Q Mayfair – best adjustable radiator cover
Measuring up shouldn’t be an issue if you follow our tips below. But if you’re in a tizzy and worried you might get it wrong, this cabinet is worth buying. It adjusts in width to provide a custom-made fit and clips together in minutes, so you don’t need to be dead on to get a great fit.
If the design isn’t 100 per cent to your taste, B&Q does have other adjustable options, but we like this one for its clean, classic lines and unfussy fretwork.
Fits radiators up to: H860mm x W1345-1915mm x D137mm External dimensions: H915mm x W1430-2000mm x D215m
2. Wayfair Homcom Horizontal Column – best budget radiator cover
This petite radiator cover is the perfect fit for smaller rooms and radiators. The fresh painted white wood and clean lined design make an amicable addititon to modern coastal schemes.
Fits radiators up to: H775mm x W1000mm x D135mm External dimensions: H810mm x W1120mm x D190m
3. Screwfix Contemporary Suffolk – best paintable radiator cover
Plain MDF radiator covers such as this design can be great budget options. You will need to prime and paint this radiator cabinet, but this is still more likely to work out cheaper than buying an equivalent ready-finished version. This one has a smart double-panelled grille.
Fits radiators up to: H857mm x W1100mm x D119mm External dimensions: H900mm x W1195mm x D200mm
4. Amazon Adam – best on-trend radiator cover
Radiators covers are often seem as traditional, but there are plenty of contemporary options if you know where to look. Take this cabinet from Amazon – its sultry black finish will work well if you’ve gone for an of-the-moment dark blue, green or grey on your walls.
Fits radiators up to: W1500mm External dimensions: H900mm x W1600mm x D200mm
5. Jason Muteham oak radiator cover – best designer radiator cover
This made-to-measure option can warm up a room even when the heating’s turned off. It comes in a range of timbers, including oak (shown), American cherry and ash. Or for something a little more ‘out there’, pick one of the laminate versions available in bright colours like sunshine yellow or lime green.
We know what you’re thinking – won’t the wood warp? But no, Jason’s very stable laminate construction means your cover will look its best for years.
6. Argos Home Winterfold – best radiator cover for quick delivery
Need to cover up, fast? This beauty can be ordered for same-day delivery (at a cost of £3.95). Apparently, the shelf on the top ‘makes a good cat perch’, as well as protection for the kids and a place to leave your keys.
Fits radiators up to: H775mm x W1415mm x D135mm External dimensions: H815mm x W1500mm x D190m
7. CASA Morocco – best statement radiator cover
This modern Moroccan-style radiator manages to be both contemporary and classic and will fill any living space with eastern promise. The intricate pattern is laser cut out of premium zinc metal and finished with white satin specialised paint.
Fits radiators from: W650mm (sizes up to W1900mm available)
8. New England Classic – best made-to-measure radiator cover
This made-to-measure cover can be personalised in various ways to make it unique to you. Aside from the fit, you can pick from different shelf profiles and grille options. There are nine in total, including hearts, a four-leaf clover and this delicate Renaissance design.
Enquire online: New England Classic radiator cabinet, £POA, Kingston Cabinets
How to buy the best radiator cover for you
Radiator covers are usually fronted with a mesh of latticework. This allows the heat radiated to circulate effectively. The design you choose should complement the existing period and architectural details of the room for a cohesive look – you don’t want your covers to stand out for all the wrong reasons.
There are three main types of radiator to choose from, covering all budgets:
Bespoke radiator covers
For a bespoke model, with your own grille pattern, colour and finish, source a local carpenter or cabinet makers via Rated People or through a friend’s recommendation. They are likely to use a lazer-cutting technique – this allows you to choose to choose your own design, whether it’s geometric, ornate or something utterly unique, like a bird theme. Expect to pay from £400.
Made-to-measure radiator covers
Take this option and you can choose a design, which will then be built from scratch to accommodate your specific radiator. It’s the way to go if you want something reasonable standard, looks wise, but don’t necessarily have a standard-sized radiator or space.
Off-the-peg radiator covers
The most affordable option is to buy ready-made covers from the likes of Argos or B&Q. As well as disguising a less-than-beautiful radiator, they also double up as useful shelving where you can display decorations or keep your keys or post to hand. They usually come in a choice of standard sizes, which will match up to newer panels.
How to measure for a radiator cover
First, measure the length of your radiator. Don’t just measure the panel – measure to the outside edge of any pipes and valves, and then add two cms each side for clearance.
Next measure the height from the floor to the top of the panel, again then adding 25mms to allow for air circulation. Lastly, measure the depth from the front of your radiator to the wall behind and again add 25mm.
How to fit a radiator cover
Unpack the radiator cabinet (assuming it’s a flat-packed design) and lay out the pieces on the floor so you see what you’re working with. Follow the manufacturer’s assembly instructions, using a drill-driver to put it together.
The cabinet can be left freestanding but it’s much safer to fix it to the wall with the brackets provided. In fact it’s a must if you have children. Before you screw the brackets into the wall, use a detector to check for any wires or pipes.
If you’re painting the cabinet, it’s easier to do this before fixing it properly to the wall. Use a small paintbrush to make sure you get into every nook and cranny of the cut-out fretwork and edges.
Can I use a radiator cover with a storage heater?
No, you should never use radiator cabinets with storage heaters – their high heat output makes them a fire hazard.
What heat loss can expect from a radiator cover?
As long as your radiator cabinet is the right size and positioned correctly, the heat loss experienced should be less than 10 per cent.
Are there any others ways to disguise a radiator?
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A quick, low-cost way to disguise an ugly radiator is to paint it in the same colour as the wall behind it. Use a metal primer first, then cover with a solvent-based paint. Once it has been painted, allow it to fully dry before you turn the radiator back on. Wilko sells a selection of specialist radiator paints.