When you live in a cold climate, it’s important to take care of your home’s heating system. One way to do this is by making sure that heat doesn’t escape through the cracks and crevices of the house. Adequate insulation in the walls, doors and windows will help keep the heat in.
If your home uses a radiator, a cover will allow you to maintain consistent warmth.
A radiator is a type of heating system that uses hot water or steam to heat the room. Radiators are typically installed under windows, in front of fireplaces, on walls, and on ceilings. And radiator covers are one solution for preventing heat from escaping outside during the winter months.
What’s a Radiator Cover?
Radiator covers are important to keep your home warm. They also have the added benefit of protecting your radiator from dirt, dust and debris that can build up over time. So they’re not just a decorative accessory.
But there’s a lot to consider when purchasing one.
What materials and design best suits your type of radiator, from a baseboard radiator to a cast iron radiator? How many sizes are available? Are there different styles and finishes available as well as safety features, like insulation or heat-resistant material?
The Different Types of Radiator Covers
Many different types of radiator covers are available in the market. You’ll want to learn what they are, especially if you have to replace your heating unit.
Here’s a list of your options:
Covers made from foam
Foam radiator covers provide the functionality of insulation along with a stylish appearance, depending on their design. These are generally more expensive than other types of coverings because they’re usually custom-made for each individual home.
Installing these can be tough if there is no frame to mount them onto (most frames have pre-installed screws or brackets that you simply slip the covering over), so it’s recommended to hire an electrician who specializes in heating systems and has experience installing such items.
It is also suggested not to use grease when attaching them as this may cause damage; instead apply some heat shrink tubing which will slide right into position once fitted.
Although non radiator covers don’t offer any insulation, they’re a more affordable option and can be easily found in most home improvement stores. These are made from materials, such as metal, plastic, or wood and attach to the radiator with screws or clamps. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so you should be able to find one that matches your decor.
If you’re looking for extra protection against heat loss, an insulated cover is what you need. These covers are made either from foam or fabric and fit snugly over the radiator.
The main benefit of using an insulated cover is that it helps keep the heat inside the room (and thus saves on energy costs), making them a great choice for cold climates.
However, they may make the room too hot for comfort in warmer environments.
Are Wood or Metal Radiator Covers Better?
Some common types of radiator covers are wood or metal, or both. Shops like the Home Depot and Wayfair sell a range of radiator covers; stores like Ikea may have items you could customize as a heating cover. But before you walk into any store, figure out what material is appealing to you and what will work for your home.
Wood is generally lighter, attractive and more decorative than metal alternatives, which can be heavier duty for industrial purposes.
Metal covers help to reduce noise from the pipes running through your floorboards as well. When it comes down to choosing between wooden and metal radiator coverings, consider:
- Where you will need them most (living room versus kids’ bedroom);
- What your budget is like (wooden ones tend to come at a greater cost);
- What features are added, such as heat insulation foam padding, and
- If you will want something plainer without too many bells and whistles attached.
You may also look into bamboo options; these are very strong yet light materials that fit the bill nicely.
Another material to consider is MDF, which is medium density fiberboard. It’s engineered wood produced by breaking down hardwood and softwood composites, leaving smooth surfaces. It’s stronger and denser than plywood, but it could hold water if not sealed well.
Other heating covers combine the homey look of wood with the durability of steel. So this could be another option for your radiator.
Which Radiator Covers are Best?
Radiator covers come in a range of styles, colors and finishes that can truly be used for decorative purposes, or to match the existing style you’ve got going on already (we’re talking about your house decor here).
Some common types are circle, square, rectangular and star shapes.
Round ones tend to have more coverage, so they provide more insulation against heat loss whereas others may work better with what you already have around the room; perhaps there’s an element of modern minimalism involved?
The shape of your cover will be dictated by the type of radiator in your home. Naturally, a baseboard radiator cover will be different from a vertical radiator. Some standard covers for baseboards only need to be clipped on, making them easy to install whereas some vertical covers may have to be customized.
The finishing touches include smooth or textured surfaces as well as white, black or ivory tones for those who want something neutral yet appealing enough to go with all interiors without being too intrusive. There are even radiator coverings available with a range of decorative patterns on them, such as flowers, leaves and so forth.
Radiator covers also come in a variety of different sizes from small to extra large.
The most common size is one which can be used with standard sized radiators. But if you have a really old model that does not conform, you may need something bigger or smaller depending upon the type of radiator it has.
Some radiator coverings available for oversized models at up to five times larger than what they normally would fit over. These ones tend to work best when custom made by an expert carpenter.
Be sure to measure properly beforehand as this will ensure your purchase fits snugly without any gaps where heat loss may occur. Any good quality product should last years, especially if you take good care of it with regular cleaning and dusting.
Although a radiator cover may mainly serve as a stylish option, it does provide other functional purposes. Safety is also an important consideration when making any purchase for your home, especially one that has to do with heating.
For starters, radiator covers help to prevent accidental burns if they have a heat resistant material or insulation installed. So be sure to look out for this feature before buying anything, especially when you have kids in the family.
It’s also worth noting that radiator covers usually come with warranties, which can last anywhere from one year up to a lifetime depending on the brand.
Do Radiator Covers Prevent Heat?
A radiator cover doesn’t have to affect your heating system’s efficiency and your home’s overall energy efficiency. But like any accessory placed on or around a radiator, some heat may be prevented from flowing. This is why it’s critical to pick a heating cover that leaves room for ventilation, from the top and bottom to the sides. And this is also the reason behind getting your measurements right.
How do you get the right size?
- Measure the height and width, along with the depth
- To ensure airflow between the cover and the heating unit, add 2 inches to the depth and 4 inches to the width
- Take into account features near the radiator, like walls and window trims, so you don’t get a cover that’s not going to fit because of an obstruction
Once you’ve done the measurements, trim your list of radiator covers by shopping around for the cheapest or mid-priced ones. It all depends on your budget. The cost of a radiator cover typically starts from a low of under $100 to a high of $800, which is likely for designer-type covers or custom work. Unless you’re looking to style up a chic or fancy-looking apartment, a radiator cover made in cabinet style from MDF at under $200 will work just fine.
So are radiator covers a good idea? Yes. The right materials, style and features will help you to stay warm throughout winter and prevent the heating unit from looking out of place in your home.