Now that fall is upon us the days are numbered until I have to turn the heat on in my house. I have steam heat with clunky old cast iron radiators. I also have two small children who climb on EVERYTHING. Having exposed radiators is dangerous with small children in the house. When I was a small child I stepped on a radiator at my parent’s house to look out the window and I burned the bottom of my foot. It was very painful and unpleasant and I was even wearing socks at the time.
I will start out by stating that although radiator covers are essential, they are also extremely expensive. Radiator covers come in different sizes, colors and aesthetics, but for the most part they’re fairly standard. They can either be made from wood or metal. I personally prefer wood, but I unfortunately found them to be prohibitively expensive.
The custom made radiator covers I was looking at ranged from $300 – $400. This was way out of my price range although I can completely understand the justification for the price. I am a carpenter and I am aware of how much time, planning and detail goes into cabinetry, which is basically what a radiator cover is.
Once I realized I could not afford to buy a $400 radiator cover, my wife and I were on a quest to build our own. This is what we came up with.
I turned an IKEA MOLGER Bench into a radiator cover for my kids reading area/play space.
The MOLGER costs $39.99, which was right in our price range. I assembled the sides and top as instructed, but then I used the lower shelf as a face to the piece. I also used one of metal baskets from the ALGOT system to create a cage on the side.
I was not worried about covering both sides because I have another piece of furniture next to the radiator cover I built. I used the largest basket I could find for the ALGOT system, which had a bottom that was about 13” x 13” and cut it out with a wire nipper. This was somewhat dangerous (eyewear recommended) and extremely taxing on my hand so I was happy to only have to cut only one basket.
The basket only cost me around $4.00 so the grand total for this radiator cover was around $50.00 if you include some of the screws and washers I used.
Lastly, aside from building the piece I also had to mount it to the wall because I knew my kids would be all over this thing. I would normally use one of the small L brackets that IKEA includes with their furniture, but this was too weak especially with them climbing and jumping all over this thing. To make it secure I anchored a cleat to the wall. I used a piece of 1 ½” furring strip for the cleat. I drilled 3 holes into the back of the bench and screwed the bench to the cleat. That did the trick.
I hope my radiator cover gives you some ideas on how to build your own. It was also a wonderful experience for me and my wife to plan, purchase and then to build our creation. It was also nice to save $300 too.
If you have any questions or need any specifics on how to build this please feel free to message me in the comments section below. I would love to share any details or even trade ideas.