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Constructing a Radiator Cover

Conceal an old radiator with a unique cover. Try more half-day projects with host Steve Watson from Don't Sweat It!

Get a free* materials list for this project:
Text radiator to 44881 (HGTV1)


1x4 lumber
radiator grills
plywood for top
molding or iron-on edging


table saw
nail gun
staple guns
tape measure
miter box
pocket hole jig
safety glasses
cordless drill


- Radiators work by convection, sucking cold air from the floor, and as it passes through the fins, it warms up and naturally rises. Making a radiator cover too small restricts airflow and reduces efficiency. Pay particular attention to the toe kick area of the front panel, as there should be plenty of clearance in the front.
- Do not paint the interior of the box. Heat from the radiator can melt the paint, creating odor.


1. Measure the radiator.
2. Cut the lumber to size, leaving about three inches on all sides of the radiator for clearance and air circulation.

3. If desired, cut a groove on the table saw to hold the grills in place. Figure out the placements of the grills, mark the edges and run the lumber through the table saw so the blade makes a 1/2-inch deep cut (figure A). For a simpler application, attach the grill to the back of the frame using staples or short screws.

3. Assemble the frame using a pocket hole jig. Start by laying out all the pieces and marking placement. Next, drill pocket holes using the jig. Glue the end of the board and screw together (figure B).

Make sure to use a clamp to hold the faces of the two pieces of wood flush (figure C). Pocket screws go in on an angle, so it will pull the wood out of alignment without the clamp.

Insert the radiator grills into the slots or staple into the frame (figure D).

4. Cut a piece of plywood for the top to the desired dimensions. Glue and nail molding or install iron-on edge-banding to cover the edge of the plywood.

5. Paint as desired. Install over radiator, screwing into the wall.

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