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JakeS

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We moved house a little while ago, and my partner decided that she liked the look of those radiator-cover things she saw in a couple of the houses we looked at. I told her that if she wanted them, she had to let me make them, so at least they're not so ugly as some of the things you see lining the shelves of B&Q, Homebase et al..

Problem is, I don't much like the idea of making them entirely out of MDF if I can help it, but I'm a little worried about expansion, which I think I understand in basic principle, but don't totally trust myself on! Would being stuck over the top of a radiator exacerbate any problem with expansion? I imagine it probably keeps moisture away, but at the same time the thing will heat up and cool down significantly more than once a day... do people use MDF for these because it's more dimensionally stable, or just because it's relatively cheap?

The other thing I'm not so sure about is that one of our radiators is in the lounge, directly underneath a low-hanging curtain which dangles about 10cm/4" below the top of the radiator. On one hand, I quite like the idea of having a cover on this one 'cause I can taper the ends back to the wall to stop the curtains catching on the rad (the previous occupants had installed a cable-operated curtain-drawing system), but on the other hand they have to trap a lot of heat behind them! I was thinking of lowering the front slots on the cover to come out below the level of the curtains, and folding the internal reflective sheet over the top of the rad inside to try and direct the hot air out the front. Does anyone have any idea how likely this is to help, or whether it's a bad idea after all?
 

tomatwark

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Solid timber and radiator covers are not a good idea, it won't expand it will shrink and most likely split.

This is why most people use MDF.

Tom
 

9fingers

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Have you got thermostatic radiator valves on your rads? If so, fitting covers will seriously affect the effectiveness of the heating as the valve will close when the temperature inside the cover reaches the target temperature rather than when the room warms up.

If you must fit them then do it in way that thermostatic valves are outside the casing.

+1 for Toms comments on MDF

Bob
 

mbartlett99

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Hi

Not to hijack the post or anything, but if anyone has some links to some interesting radiator cover designs I'd be hugely grateful. I've searched hi and lo but only come up with things looking v. similar to the B & Q/Homesbase rubbish.

MDF is the way to go here - its major redeeming factor is that it will be stable in this sort of environment - but you can always dress it up with nice lippings etc.
 

JakeS

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Thanks for the advice on MDF - it's a shame, but if there's a good reason for it, there's a good reason for it. I needed a new set of A2 filters anyway!

9fingers":1xl6tbfn said:
Have you got thermostatic radiator valves on your rads? If so, fitting covers will seriously affect the effectiveness of the heating as the valve will close when the temperature inside the cover reaches the target temperature rather than when the room warms up.

If you must fit them then do it in way that thermostatic valves are outside the casing.
You know, this I hadn't considered at all! I'm pretty sure there's only thermostatic valves on a couple of the rads, though, so I'll be sure to modify the covers on those ones to leave the valve outside - thanks for the warning!
 

Jamesc

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Not wishing to contadict ohters above but I have successfully made my radiator covers from solid oak. The trick for me at least is careful design. Make sure that all the construction allows for movement. Make sure you apply your finish both inside and out equally. and above all remember that inspite of their name radiators give out very little of their heat radiantly. Most of it is by convection so make sure you have a good big gap below the radiator and a similarly sized gap above it.
Here is one I made 3 years ago.


DSCN0803 by Jmaes-C, on Flickr

The inlet slots are in the skiting board, the outlets are above and below the cabinet doors. This was a very complicated build as it conceals structural steels that support the stairs. This is why I have 2 sets of outlets as there wasn't enough room to get them all in one place.
Warm air rises up either side of the cabinet using the chimney effect.

James
 

Steve Maskery

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I made RCs for my previous place. I made a frame, but the front panels were separate and held in place with turnbuttons. I had a lot of trouble with them bowing outwards when the rads were hot, then they would go back flat when they cooled down. I eventually fitted them all with biscuits to hold them in place.
I wouldn't do it again.
S
 

JakeS

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With regards to bowing, do you mean out from the bottom, or out from the centre of the panel? If it's from the bottom, do you think a back-frame (leaving space for pipes, of course) attached along the under-side to the front might help?

Steve Maskery":14tlea7b said:
I wouldn't do it again.
I probably wouldn't be doing it in the first place if it were entirely up to me...! ;-)

I've heard good things about having a reflective panel behind the radiator to avoid heat loss through the wall, though, so I figure that at least the cover is a nice way to hide that.
 

Steve Maskery

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Bowing out like the hull of a ship.
The decorative panel sat in a rebate all round the bottom and sides, held by turn-buttons at the top where I could reach.
I'm not taking about a couple of millimetres either, more like an inch or so, it was quite dramatic.
HTH
S
 

Chems

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Do you not want to use MDF because of the dust issue? I think you could probably use Ply for this, not 100% sure maybe someone else could advise on that?
 

JakeS

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Steve - thanks for the warning, I'll make my panels as small as is comfortable in the hope that it avoids the problem (or at least avoids the problem being noticeable...)

I'll be making these one at a time anyway, so if the first one installed encounters problems, we may well stop there!

Chems":2e6u7uiw said:
Do you not want to use MDF because of the dust issue? I think you could probably use Ply for this, not 100% sure maybe someone else could advise on that?
Mostly the dust issue, yeah. I've never been particularly happy with ply as a finish surface, and I can deal with the MDF dust if there's a good reason to be using it. The customer can attend all the cutting and sanding and hold the vacuum. ;-)
 

No skills

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Not tried it myself but how about some veneered ply or mdf with matching hardwood trim or details? might lift the look from the ordinary mdf shop brought ones and hopefully with none of the movement of real timber.

I like the oak one a post or two above =D>
 

JakeS

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Steve Maskery":1u28fvi6 said:
My point was that MDF moves at least as much as real timber under this kind of stress...
Point taken, but it seems to me that bowing is less likely to be destructive than axial shrinking/expanding?

Out of interest, how much of the surface was vented, on yours? Did you just have the two slots at the top and bottom, or an open mesh/punched-board/whatever front as well?
 

Steve Maskery

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They were open fronted, meshed with rattan. Once I'd added the biscuits, it didn't stop the bowing, but it did reduce it (because the frame was stiffer than the panels) but at least the frames and the panels moved together.
 

plymouth pirate

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9fingers":v3rnsux1 said:
Have you got thermostatic radiator valves on your rads? If so, fitting covers will seriously affect the effectiveness of the heating as the valve will close when the temperature inside the cover reaches the target temperature rather than when the room warms up.

If you must fit them then do it in way that thermostatic valves are outside the casing.

+1 for Toms comments on MDF

Bob
Beg to differ on this one. Hot air rises. As the radiator heats the air it flows from bottom to top of the enclosure and circultes the space being heated re-entering as cooler air which enters again at ground level. Once the cooler air reaches the thermostat set level then it starts to cut in. Radiator covers do not affect the efficiency of the unit.
 

JasonMuteham

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mbartlett99":2pbmq2bw said:
Hi

Not to hijack the post or anything, but if anyone has some links to some interesting radiator cover designs I'd be hugely grateful. I've searched hi and lo but only come up with things looking v. similar to the B & Q/Homesbase rubbish.

MDF is the way to go here - its major redeeming factor is that it will be stable in this sort of environment - but you can always dress it up with nice lippings etc.

A shameless plug, but it is an interesting radiator design. http://www.jasonmuteham.com/jasonmuteham_022.htm
 
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