How To Plan A Radiator Makeover In 5 Steps

Modern living room with blue dining table chairs and purple radiator

Thinking about giving your radiators a style makeover? Good choice!

Upgrading your radiators will not only elevate your interior design scheme, but it will also add value to your property when the time comes to find a new home. In this five step guide, we’ll take you through the process of planning a radiator revamp to ensure you find the best option for your space. 

Calculate the heat requirements

Before you jump into the design options, the first thing you need to do is guarantee that your new radiator will provide enough heat for your room. The way to do this is by using a BTU calculator. 

dark grey radiator in living room

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and it measures the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In other words, BTUs tell you if your radiator will be hot enough to heat your space to a comfortable temperature. 

Using the calculator only takes a couple of minutes and you can find plenty of them online. All you need to do is provide some basic information about your property, for example room size, window and insulation details. 

Once the calculator has worked its magic, you will be supplied with your BTU output. This figure is the total BTUs required to heat the specific room. That means you may be able to install one radiator that meets the total output, or multiple radiators that add up to the total BTUs. 

Consider electric options 

Energy-efficient electric heating is becoming increasingly popular for homes across the country, and many new builds possess purely electric systems. 

The good news is, even if your home has central heating, you can still incorporate an electric radiator into your system to lower your energy usage and costs. 

When you use the BTU calculator, you will also be provided with a Wattage total. This figure tells you how powerful your electric radiator needs to be to heat your space. 

Since electric radiators work independently from the central heating, they are most commonly used to heat bathrooms. This means you can still enjoy warm towels and a comfortable bathroom temperature in the summer when you will likely have the heating turned off. 

Not only will this reduce your energy consumption by creating heating zones, but it will also reduce your energy costs by only heating the rooms you require and not wasting heat on the rest of the house. 

Find your favourite style

Now for the fun part! Once the heat requirements are calculated and heating systems considered, it is time to find a radiator that complements your home decor. 

Brass column radiator next to welcome mat

With so many radiator designs to choose from, finding your favourite radiator style is as enjoyable as selecting a new sofa or wall colour. 

If you’re not sure where to start, think about the kinds of interior design that inspire you. Do you love modern, minimal spaces, cosy country homes or vibrant colour schemes? 

If you are redesigning the entire room, why not collate your ideas in an inspirational mood board to help you visualise your end goal? You can do this either by cutting your favourite features out of magazines, or creating a digital mood board online.

Once you have defined the look you want to create, then you can start to think about radiator designs that will suit your style. 

Start by looking at the different radiator panel shapes. Flat panels with clean lines and a minimal aesthetic work beautifully in contemporary interiors, while chunky, vintage-style columns look right at home in period properties. 

The next important feature to consider is the radiator colour! Are you drawn to clean white colour schemes, or dark, moody interiors? Do you want your radiator to blend into the wall, or stand out as a focal point? 

Are there any accent features in the room like brass door handles that could be highlighted by a metallic radiator finish? Whatever look you want to create, you will easily find a radiator colour that complements your scheme.

Select your size

At this point, you should have an idea of which radiator design and colour you are looking for. Now it is time to think about the layout of your room and which radiator size and orientation will work best for your space. 

You might prefer to keep your new radiator in the same place as your original. But, moving your radiator is an easier job than you think and it could significantly improve the flow of the space. 

For example, if your current radiator is blocked by a piece of furniture like the sofa, you might not be benefitting from as much heat as you are paying for! 

If that is the case, it may be a good idea to consider a vertical radiator. Vertical radiators are designed to utilise the height of the wall instead of the width. This is a great way to save wall space and allow the radiator to provide the maximum heat output. 

Or, if you are lucky enough to have a beautiful bay window or conservatory, low level radiators are ideal for installing under the window and using the small space that would otherwise be wasted.

Whether you decide to opt for a space-saving vertical radiator, or a couple of smaller horizontal models, remember to ensure that they equate to the total BTUs you calculated during your research. That way, you can be sure that your radiators are armed and ready for the frosty winters to come. 

Choose your valves 

Last but not least, if you are installing a new central heating radiator, you now have the option to give your valves a makeover too! 

White radiator next to white roll top bath

It’s a good idea to consider swapping your radiator valves if they are more than ten years old, because it is likely that they will not perform as efficiently as they used to. 

You won’t need to do this if you are installing an electric radiator since they are hardwired into the mains and do not operate with radiator valves. 

Not only will new valves provide better functionality for central heating radiators, they will look much more attractive too! Just like with the development of radiator design, there are plenty more valve options to choose from now. 

Antique inspired, ornate valves with beautiful details make a lovely match for traditional cast iron radiators. For more of a modern, minimal look, sleek, elegant valves look fabulous with contemporary designer radiators. 

In addition to design aesthetics, there are also multiple valve shapes to suit a variety of pipework. For example, if your pipes come out from the floor, you will need angled valves to connect the pipes to the radiator at a 90 degree angle. 

However, if the pipes come out from the wall, you could install corner or straight valves. This also depends on where your radiator inlets are positioned. So, make sure you have all this information together before you purchase your valves to ensure you pick the correct pair.


So, there you have it – our five step guide on planning a radiator makeover! We hope this guide has inspired you to look at radiators as decorative items, rather than purely functional heat boxes! There are plenty of design options to choose from. So, take your time, do your research and find a radiator you love for your home. 

Tags from the story
, ,
Written By
More from LDC
5 Tips For A Summer Ready Garden
In recent years, the British have fully embraced outdoor living, and begun...
Read More