Radiator covers

I have a simple plan for building wood radiator covers, but it leaves out a couple of crucial details.
FYI, I have steam radiators.
What is the recommended clearance between the exterior of the radiator and the interior of the cover?
I want to paint the covers. Will the same latex semigloss I used for the trim in the room hold up to the heat, or should I be looking for a different type of paint?
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I have a simple plan for building wood radiator covers, but it leaves

Wood is an excellent insulator, so will retard the heating of the room, especially if close to the top of the radiator. Are you sure you want this cosmetic effect while losing some heating efficiency as a trade off?
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Roger wrote:

I've got a kid who will be crawling, pulling up and possibly walking in the coming heating season, so I want the covers to be as toddler friendly as possible. So that means wood for now, since the current metal covers get really hot. In the long run, I'll probably put the metal ones back when the kid gets enough common sense not to keep touching a hot object, but I'm not counting on the kid (or the kid's friends) having a lot of common sense in the short run.
I've read claims by radiator cover manufacturers that covers actually increase efficiency because of convection, but I'm sure that claim is wildly dependent on a lot of factors. Anyway, in the mean time safety trumps efficiency.
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Steam heats hot and fast , ive never had a tennant complain abou the kids, Its hot , they dont touch it its that simple. Everybody feels heat. I think you worry to much. Wood will hold in heat but it will still get to hot to sit on.
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You might want to read this.
http://www.heatinghelp.com/newsletter.cfm?Idw
Good luck with the new baby. S/he'll learn to stay away from the radiators.
It's great you have steam heat. I wish I did.

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I don't know if there is any 'recommended' clearance. I think it would tend to be subjective. For the front and sides, probably at least the same distance you have from the back to the wall.
If I were doing it...
I'd simply build a box...piece by piece. Start with the back...mount it to the wall. Pre-line it with some kind of reflective metal.
Then mount each of the side pieces...then the front...then the top. Be sure you can easily and quickly take it all apart...to bleed the valve, turn off the supply, clean out the dust, etc.
You might even try building everything but the back as one piece...and just slide it into the back.
Make the sides, front, and top slotted...for proper convection. I'm pretty sure they still sell grating that you can buy...if you don't want to router the pieces.
Make the design attractive...and then have it meet yer decided-upon specs. I'd probably give all the sides and top at least 1 1/2"-2" of room.
Top will drop on last, of course.

How is the wall behind the radiator prepared now? This should give you some idea. I'd guess they make a heat-proof paint for this if you prefer...but I'm really not sure. Call your favorite paint retailer and ask. DON'T call your local Borg...call a specialty store.
Good luck.
Have a nice week...
Trent
What do you call a smart blonde? A golden retriever.
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