Radiator covers can be unsightly and ruin the whole design concept for the home interior. However, many homes have radiators and we have selected a number of inspiring solutions which will help you transform an ugly radiator into an attractive element of the home decor. We are used to think of radiator covers as grilles and screens made of wood or metal but you will see how traditional materials can have a new shape and a modern appearance to meet the requirements and the visual aesthetics of modern times.
Despite the huge variety of heating appliances, in most apartment buildings radiators are in every room and that is the heating source of the home. Radiator covers and screens perform several functions. Obviously one of them is decorative – they hide the bulky radiator – but the other function is also very important. Radiator screens protect children and pets which is especially important for families with young children who are just starting to walk, as well as in child care centers, kindergartens, gyms, etc. Screens will protect a small child not only from the hot surface of the radiator, but from the sharp corners as well. The right choice of a radiator cover will direct the flow of warm air in the right direction that will greatly enhance the efficiency of space heating and, of course, will influence on the energy bills of the family.
How to choose the right radiator covers?
How to choose the right radiator covers? This is the first question that comes to mind when you face the problem of hiding an ugly radiator without losing the heat. The wrong choice of radiator coverings can drastically increase the heat loss which will make the radiator inefficient. Before making any choice you need to remember the major principle of air movement – cool air is drawn through the bottom and the warm air expelled through the top. This means you have to make sure that the air flow is not blocked and your radiator will be able to function after you add a covering. A note of attention – radiator cabinets are not suitable for use with storage heaters or convector heaters.
Before buying or constructing a radiator cover, you have to make sure that the model you chose will fit to the available space. In order to do that, you need to correctly measure your radiator and the available space around it.
Height is the first measurement that you need – measure from the floor to the top of the radiator and add at least 25mm to this measurement to allow good air circulation.
Width – measure the distance from the outer edges of the radiator and add at least 50mm (25mm on each side) to make sure you do not block air circulation.
Depth – measure the distance from the wall to the front of your radiator and add 25mm to ensure efficient air circulation.
Further to taking measurements, you need to make sure that valves are easily accessible. When choosing a radiator covering, you need to check whether it can be removed quickly and easily in the event of an accident. There are several types of radiator covers to choose from – a flat screen, which covers only the front part of the radiator, hinged screen with or without a lid, radiator cabinets, which close the radiator from all sides.
The choice of the right radiator cover will also depend on the installation opportunities as radiators are installed in different ways. Some are wall mounted while others are installed very near the floor. This means that homeowners have to choose a radiator screen that will have the relevant design. There are coverings that you can use directly on the floor, wall mounted radiator covers and hinged radiator covers. The first option is very convenient as the radiator cover is designed to be placed on the floor in front of the radiator, like a screen, and can be easily removed to clean or wash the dust. Wall mounted radiator coverings are strong and you will not be able to push them or trip over them. Wall mounted covers are fastened to the walls at a distance from the radiator which allows a good air circulation. The simplest way of installation is offered by hinged radiator covers. They are fastened with screws but the only problem is that most models lie directly on the surface of the radiator, which prevents the circulation of air flow and may lead to heat loss.
Radiator covers – types and materials
Radiator covers may differ in appearance or type of installation, but the most obvious difference is the material. We shall look at the different types of radiator cover materials – metal, wood, plastic, glass or a combination between those – and examine the pros and cons of the each material.
Pros and cons of metal radiator covers
Metal radiator covers can be made of aluminum or sheet steel sheet which is then coated with paint. Metal covers are very durable and will retain their attractive appearance for decades. Metal radiator coverings last loner and in term of impact on the heating, these covers are the best choice. Metal is heated quickly and then begins to radiate heat. Metal covers are easy to install and easy to maintain. They can be cleaned with a damp cloth and do not get deformed and do not change color by a long exposure to high temperatures.
In terms of appearance metal covers come in a huge variety of designs with openings and ornaments which add to the elegant style of the home interior. Modern laser cut radiator covers offer a striking appearance and stunning lace, geometric and designer patterns. You can combine a classic styling with a very contemporary twist and the cover instantly becomes a fantastic element of the home décor and an eye catching wall decoration. The only drawback of metal radiator coverings is the price. Standard metal screens can be found at a lower cost, but the price of stainless steel models or custom models with non-standard perforation can have considerable price tags.
Pros and cons of wooden radiator covers
Wood has always been a premium material. Wooden radiator covers come in different styles and shapes – from classic to avant-garde – and will work for any type of radiator. Radiator grilles are made from natural wood of different species – from oak or beech to valuable and expensive wood varieties. From the simplest designs to ornate carved patterns, there are unique radiator covers made of wood. The main advantages of wooden screens are that they retain heat, the natural origin of the materials and environmental safety, aesthetic appearance, which organically fits in almost any interior. Covers made of natural wood are more expensive than metal covers and require careful maintenance as wood is susceptible to warp over time.
More affordable variety of wooden covers are the ones made of plywood, chipboard, MDF (Middle Density Fiberboard) or HDF (High Density Fiberboard). Usually those materials are used for manufacturing a box while the grille itself can be made of thin wood slats, rattan or mesh. People who fancy a DIY project can craft their own wooden radiator cover. The only thing you have to attention to is that you should not block the air circulation with a dense front. Wood can be painted, stained or finished in different ways to match the existing interior of the home.
Pros and cons of plastic radiator covers
Plastic covers are mostly used in bathrooms and toilets and this is one of the most practical options for a decorative accessory. This material is the most hygienic and can be washed an unlimited number of times. Plastic covers are incredibly resistant to moisture and high humidity levels, they do not warp like wood or rust like metal. The market offers numerous sizes, shapes and colors. This is the cheapest option available on the market and when you are on a tight budget, plastic covers are a good choice. However, plastic covers lose their properties over time and due to frequent temperature changes rapidly lose its plastic form so they need to be replaced. Further to that, low-grade plastic can release harmful substances or odors into the air.
Pros and cons of glass radiator covers
Glass screens appeared a few years ago. They have an attractive appearance which gains them a huge popularity among customers. These screens can be a refined accessory and significantly add to the interior as a unique element of the decor. Glass screens are manufactured from special tempered glass with a thickness of about 8 mm. A special treatment of the glass makes it resistant to scratches and damage, and the corners are rounded for safety reasons. Many glass screens feature beautiful 3D graphics on the surface and the radiator cover can be used as a decoration. For example, in kids’ bedrooms you can choose drawings of cartoons, beautiful and delicate flowers for a teen girl bedroom or a city scape or graffiti for the room of your boy. Usually glass screens are with solid surface which allows unique images, patterns, texture of stained glass, from printing to film stained glass.