MDF Baseboard Radiator Cover

mdf bathroom radiator cover This project idea is the result of a recent bathroom reno. The old steel shroud on our baseboard radiator had to come off to get the plaster, lath and wood shavings out of the wall behind it.

If you’ve taken one of these out before, you know it involves cutting things apart. Damage aside, it was also deemed too ugly to exist in the new decor. So I had to come up with a new cover that would suit the look without a lot of effort or expense.

Why MDF?


radiator during renovation This is a hot water radiator so the temperature stays well below combustion levels of the wood components the pipes come in contact with like studs and joists.

I built this from a 12" x 96" x 3/4" piece of MDF that many building centres sell as "shelf" material, usually for less than $10.00.

MDF is stable and easy to work with. You should wear a mask when cutting and sanding it because of the fine particles and resins that bind it together.

Construction details

The pictures and drawings pretty much tell the story so I’ll focus on the few details that you can’t see. Your situation may be slightly different and you may want to adapt some of these ideas to work for your particular site.

All the components were pre-painted before installation. radiator top bracketfront cover roller clip attachment 

  • I installed a 7"high plywood back (pre-painted black) directly to the studs behind the pipe before the tile floor and drywall were installed. The drywall and bead board rest on top of this and the joint is concealed by the radiator top.
  • The end supports are made of two pieces glued together to make them 1 1/2" thick. I cut the pieces slightly oversized, and made the final cuts after they were glued to get clean edges. Once I determined where the pipe centre was (off the floor and wall) I drilled a 3/4" hole centred on those measurements. Then I used a jigsaw to cut a channel in the least visible location so the ends can slip over the pipe. I had a to cut off a few of the aluminum fins at each end to make enough space.
  • The end supports were drilled and screwed to the baseboards using 2 1/2 screws.
  • The rabbet on the back edge of the top makes it easier to get a tight fit to a wall that’s not perfectly flat. Ours bows out almost 3/8" in the middle. I marked a scribe line on the top and sanded to the line using a palm sander. Sanding off a 3/8" edge is a lot less work than a full 3/4". After a few test fits I finally had a result I could live with.
  • The 1/4" MDF cleats keep the front cover vertical when it’s snapped into the roller clips. I located these so the front cover is just slightly recessed from the face of the end supports.
  • The top is attached using 3/4" angle brackets. Each end has a bracket and three more are spaced evenly along the back edge to keep the top from sagging. The brackets were fastened to the top before installing it.radiator detailed drawing  

What about corners or long runs?

Well…. this was a short, straight run and as simple as it gets. I have other rooms to do in the future that have one or both of these situations.

For a longer run, my inclination would be to add one or more "end" supports in a logical place – possibly centred on the wall or dividing the run in three depending on the situation.

As for corners, I would either redesign the end supports to eliminate the 20 degree slope, add a 1" x 1" block to fill in the gap at the slope or see if I could mitre the meeting edges to make a corner assembly.

If you’ve got more ideas why not share them in the comments.


Related Articles on our Bathroom renovation:

Tiling a Sloped Shower Wall

Do I Need “Ditra” Under Floor Tiles?

Plumbing Access Camouflage

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