How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Radiator?

Average range: $1,000 - $3,500
Low
$500
Average Cost
$1,500
High
$8,600
(Installing a 5,000 BTU replacement cast iron hot water radiator)

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How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Radiator?

Average range: $1,000 - $3,500
Low
$500
Average Cost
$1,500
High
$8,600
(Installing a 5,000 BTU replacement cast iron hot water radiator)

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Reviewed by Isabel Maria Perez. Written by Fixr.com.

You can heat your home in several ways. In many older homes, the most common method is with a radiator. Radiators fall into three categories, with most older homes using steam, followed by hot water, and a smaller number using electricity. The radiator puts out heat without blowing air. This can mean cleaner heat with fewer allergens and without ducts.

Most U.S. homes using radiators are older, which often means the units are also older. When they leak, rust, or whistle, it may be time to replace them.

Radiator replacement can have a wide range of costs, depending on the type, size, and placement. The national average cost to replace a radiator is $1,000 to $3,500, with most people paying around $1,500 for a 5,000 BTU cast iron replacement hot water radiator fully installed. This project’s low cost is $500 to replace a 2,000 BTU electric baseboard radiator. The high cost is $8,600 to replace all steam radiators in the house at once with a mixture of sizes.

Cost to Replace Radiators

Radiator Installation Cost
National average cost$1,500
Average range$1,000-$3,500
Minimum cost$500
Maximum cost$8,600


Radiator Replacement Cost by Project Range

Low
$500
Replacing a 2,000 BTU electric baseboard radiator
Average Cost
$1,500
Installing a 5,000 BTU replacement cast iron hot water radiator
High
$8,600
Replacing all the steam or hot water radiators in the house at one time

How Do Radiators Work?

Radiators heat your home through convection. In most cases, hot water or steam is generated in a boiler, where it travels to the pipes. In some cases, electricity heats coils inside the radiator. The heat inside the coils or pipes warms the air around them. This warmth is then circulated through the room when the air is moved or distributed.

Different radiators may operate in varying ways based on how they receive heat. In a steam radiator, your boiler produces steam, which is fed to the unit. When it cools, it condenses and travels back to the radiator to be reheated. These units may have one or two pipes.

In a hot water or hydronic radiator, hot water is continuously circulated through the radiator, and then back to the boiler once it cools. These units always have two pipes.

Electric units use resistance to produce heat. They are the most expensive to run but technically the most efficient because they convert all energy into heat.


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Radiator Cost by Heat Source

All radiators heat your home through convection. But how they get that heat is completely different. If you have a boiler, it may produce either steam or hot water. If you do not have a steam or hydronic (hot water) system, you have an electric radiator wired directly to your home’s electrical panel. These are usually used as supplemental heating systems rather than whole-house systems because they tend to be more costly to run.

Radiator types have different costs. Your total cost depends on the materials, size, style, and type. Costs below are for radiators rated up to roughly 10,000 BTUs and below. The room size you heat impacts the unit size and cost. In most instances, the average room needs roughly 5,000 BTUs, but some open spaces may need considerably more.


Cost per Unit of a Hot Water, Electric, or Steam Radiator

Cost per Unit of a Hot Water, Electric, or Steam Radiator


Heat SourceAverage Costs per Unit (Materials Only)
Hot Water$100 - $1,000
Electric$200 - $1,500
Steam$300 - $2,500


Hot Water Radiator Price

The cost of a hot water radiator ranges from $100 to $1,000. Hot water units come in a range of sizes. Typically, you start by measuring the area’s height and width. Then, you calculate how many “tubes” are in each row, which gives you its depth. The most common depths are 4 and 6 tubes. Depending on your setup, you may need a radiator with its intake and output pipes on either side, or you may need one with the pipes together. You can keep labor costs down by opting for a similar setup to what you have.

Electric Radiator Price

The cost of an electric radiator averages $200 to $1,500. Electric units come in many shapes and sizes. They can be installed along your baseboard, wall-mounted, or freestanding. Electric radiators can resemble the look of a traditional hot water or steam radiator. If you have traditional radiators in your home and want to add an electric unit for supplemental heat, you can usually match the overall style for a cohesive look. Electric units also come in flat panels for the walls, giving your home a contemporary look.

Steam Radiator Cost

The cost of a steam radiator is $300 to $2,500. Steam units can have one or two pipes. Most plumbers recommend that you upgrade to two pipes if you have a single pipe for better efficiency and longer-lasting use. However, doing so increases the installation and radiator costs. Steam units also have valves for bleeding trapped air and steam. Depending on the size and type, you may have options for valve placement.

What Size Radiator Do I Need?

Radiators are sized in various ways. First is physical size, coming in several heights and lengths. Measure your current unit for the best fit.

The next measurement is heat output. This is typically measured in BTUs or British Thermal Units, the unit of heat needed to warm one pound of water one degree.

Hydronic and steam radiators are sized by BTUs or the amount of heat they can emit, while electric radiators are sized by watts. Several factors determine the necessary BTUs, including your climate, the amount of insulation you have, and the size of the space you are heating. Most radiators are sized to heat a single room, so you ideally have a radiator in each room to provide even heat.

The number of BTUs you need can be loosely calculated with this formula.

Begin by measuring your room’s length, height, and width, and multiply these for the room’s cubic feet. From here, you can translate your BTUs into watts if you are using an electric radiator.

Because the room type influences your need for BTUs, you can multiply the cubic feet by the following, depending on the room type:


Radiator Size Needed for a Family Room, Dining Room, Living Room, Bedroom, Home Office, Kitchen, or Other Areas

Radiator Size Needed for a Family Room, Dining Room, Living Room, Bedroom, Home Office, Kitchen, or Other Areas


RoomMultiplier
Family Room5
Dining Room5
Living Room5
Bedroom4
Home Office4
Kitchen3
Other Areas3


If the room faces north, has many windows, or is under insulated, add 15% to this figure. This is the total number of BTUs necessary to warm the room.

For example, if you have a family room that is 20’ x 24’ x 10’ and it has a set of French doors along with several windows, your BTUs would be 27,600. If the room is well insulated, you can round it down. If the room is drafty or under insulated, you may want to round up.

Large rooms often need two or more radiators. Smaller rooms likely only need one.

Once you have the total number of BTUs, you can translate them into watts if you are using an electric radiator by multiplying by 0.293.

Therefore, in a room that requires 27,600 BTUs, you need an electric radiator or radiators that can produce 8,087 watts.

New Radiator Cost by Size

The size of your radiator impacts cost. Size is only one determining element, though. Material, style, orientation, and the heating element also impact your final cost. Typically, radiators that emit more BTUs are larger than those that emit fewer BTUs. However, you can sometimes find a radiator that comes in a single height and width while also coming in several BTU outputs. Below are the average costs of plumbed (hot water and steam) radiators in a range of average sizes. Keep in mind that hydronic radiators are rarely sold in round numbers for BTUs. You are likely to find a radiator at 3,467 BTUs or 5,795 BTUs. Small units often have fewer options and may be more expensive than mid-sized models because mid-sized models are available in more styles and materials, giving you several choices and potentially lower costs.


Cost per Unit of a 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, 10,000, or 12,000 BTUs Plumbed Radiator

Cost per Unit of a 3,000, 4,000, 5,000, 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, 10,000, or 12,000 BTUs Plumbed Radiator


SizeAverage Cost per Unit (Plumbed)
3,000 BTUs$200 - $500
4,000 BTUs$250 - $350
5,000 BTUs$350 - $500
6,000 BTUs$400 - $600
7,000 BTUs$500 - $700
8,000 BTUs$500 - $800
9,000 BTUs$500 - $900
10,000 BTUs$600 - $1,000
12,000 BTUs$600 - $1,200


Electric radiators are sized by watts. Below are the average costs based on the number of watts produced by most electric units.


Cost per Unit of a 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, or 1,000-Watt Electric Radiator

Cost per Unit of a 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, or 1,000-Watt Electric Radiator


WattsAverage Costs per Unit (Electric)
400 Watts$100 - $500
500 Watts$200 - $600
600 Watts$300 - $700
700 Watts$500 - $900
800 Watts$600 - $1,000
900 Watts$800 - $1,200
1,000 Watts$900 - $1,500


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House Radiator Prices by Type

Radiators come in many types and styles. Some refer to how they are installed, such as baseboard radiators installed along the baseboard of a wall. Others may refer to the unit's style, such as flat or column. Each type is available in several sizes, finishes, and materials. They can be considered central heating radiators, except the heated towel rail. Consider your home’s style and the radiator’s placement when making your choice.


Cost per Unit of a Plumbed or Electric Radiator by Type: Baseboard, Single Panel, Flat Panel, Freestanding, Column, Towel...

Cost per Unit of a Plumbed or Electric Radiator by Type: Baseboard, Single Panel, Flat Panel, Freestanding, Column, Towel...


TypeAverage Costs per Unit (Plumbed)Average Costs per Unit (Electric)
Baseboard$65 - $1,000$35 - $1,000
Single Panel$100 - $300$80 - $150
Flat Panel$100 - $300$80 - $150
Freestanding$200 - $500$300 - $1,200
Column$200 - $1,000$300 - $1,200
Towel$200 - $1,200$200 - $1,200
Dual Panel$300 - $500$300 - $1,500


Baseboard Radiator Prices

The cost of hydronic baseboard radiators is $65 to $1,000 per heater. The cost of electric baseboard radiators ranges from $35 to $1,000 per heater. Baseboard radiators are long and thin units designed to install at the baseboard level of your walls. They can be freestanding, flat, wall-hung, or protruding. They come in several materials, colors, and styles. They can use hot water or electricity to warm a room but do not use steam.

Single-Panel Radiator Prices

The cost of a plumbed single-panel radiator averages $100 to $300. The cost of an electric single-panel radiator is $80 to $150. Single-panel units are designed for small room usage. They have less surface area available to produce and give off heat, so they tend to be thinner. They can be flat-panel radiators designed to sit on the wall. They can also be designed to sit at ground level and be slightly wider and boxier. They come in several colors and styles.

Flat-Panel Radiator Prices

The cost of a hydronic flat-panel radiator ranges from $100 to $300. The cost of an electric flat-panel radiator averages $80 to $150. Flat-panel units are a type of single panel. They are designed to hang on your wall and take up little space. They have a more contemporary appearance than column radiators and can be found in several sizes. They are also available in a wide range of designer colors. These can be oriented horizontally or vertically, depending on your needs.

Freestanding Radiator Prices

The cost of a plumbed freestanding radiator is $200 to $500. The cost of an electric freestanding radiator ranges from $300 to $1,200. Freestanding radiators come in two basic styles - column and dual-panel. Column radiators are the most common for traditional styles and older homes. Dual-panel freestanding radiators have more of a transitional appearance. Freestanding units can usually heat the entire room and come in many sizes and materials.

Column Radiator Prices

The cost of a plumbed column radiator is $200 to $1,000. The cost of an electric column radiator averages $300 to $1,200. Column radiators are an older style that can be found in many homes. The radiator is made up of several vertical “tubes” or fins sitting next to one another. These tubes are known as columns. Column units may be freestanding or wall-mounted. They can be plumbed for hot water or steam and come in many sizes of electric watts.

Heated Towel Rail Prices

The cost of a heated towel rail ranges from $200 to $1,200 for both hot water and electric versions. Heated towel rails do not heat the room, but they do operate similarly to radiators. Heated towel rails warm the objects on them. These are usually towels but can be other types of cloth or garments. They help the cloth dry more quickly, reducing mildew growth and keeping towels fresh longer. They come in many styles, including ladder, flat panel, and freestanding.

Dual Panel Radiators Prices

The cost of a plumbed dual-panel radiator is $300 to $500. The cost for an electric dual-panel radiator averages $300 to $1,500. Dual-panel units have twice the number of fins inside than a single-panel radiator. This means they can produce twice the amount of heat as a single-panel radiator per inch. They are designed for larger rooms and take up more space. They are often freestanding, but some may be wall-mounted. They are usually mounted 1 at the baseboard level because of their width, but many are much taller.

Central Heating Radiator Cost by Orientation

Many radiators are available in horizontal and vertical orientations. While some radiators must be horizontal, such as baseboard radiators, others can be configured in different ways to fit various spaces. Column, flat-panel, single-panel, and dual-panel radiators can all be found in vertical and horizontal orientations. This can get the amount of heat you need on a smaller or thinner wall by allowing the radiator to extend upward rather than outward.

Costs are mostly dependent on the unit size rather than orientation. However, as there are fewer types of vertical radiators, they can be slightly more expensive to purchase. Installation costs are the same.


Cost per Unit of a Plumbed and Electric Horizontal and Vertical Radiator

Cost per Unit of a Plumbed and Electric Horizontal and Vertical Radiator


OrientationAverage Costs per Unit (Plumbed)Average Costs per Unit (Electric)
Horizontal$100 - $1,000$300 - $1,200
Vertical$300 - $1,200$300 - $2,000


Horizontal Radiator Cost

The cost of plumbed horizontal radiators is $100 to $1,000. The cost of an electric horizontal radiator averages $300 to $1,200. Horizontal units are the more common type. Baseboard, freestanding, and some panel radiators are horizontal. It is common to use a horizontal radiator when you have wider rooms or longer walls. This can spread the heat over a larger area.

Vertical Radiator Cost

The cost of plumbed vertical radiators ranges from $300 to $1,200. The cost of electric vertical radiators is $300 to $2,000. Vertical units are a good choice for small rooms and narrow walls. They can extend up to 6’ with various widths. You can find column and flat-panel radiators in a vertical orientation. These radiators start at widths as narrow as 6” and extend to 2’. This helps you fit them into areas where a traditional radiator may not fit.

New Radiator Cost by Material

Most radiators today are made of steel. A few are also still made in cast iron, which is the material that many older steam radiators were made from. Regardless of the material, many radiators today are available in a range of colors and styles. This can give you a more modern look for your home. Steel can be formed into many shapes that can be used for radiators and given several designer colors. While cast iron is uncommon, you can find it in column and some freestanding radiators. Steel units are available in all types. Below are the average costs for each.


Cost per Unit of a Plumbed and Electric Cast Iron and Stainless Steel Radiator

Cost per Unit of a Plumbed and Electric Cast Iron and Stainless Steel Radiator


MaterialAverage Costs per Unit (Plumbed)Average Costs per Unit (Electric)
Cast Iron$200 - $700$400 - $1,000
Stainless Steel$200 - $1,000$200 - $1,200


Cast Iron Radiator Cost

The cost of a cast iron plumbed radiator averages $200 to $700. The cost of a cast iron electric radiator is $400 to $1,000. Cast iron is the material most often used for column radiators. These can be freestanding or wall-mounted, depending on the style. The plumbed units can be steam or hot water. These units are long-lasting and can hold heat better than steel. This makes them a good choice for older homes where column radiators are desired. They can also be a good fit for those who want to turn off the boiler from time to time and let the heat continue radiating from the cast iron to save energy.

Stainless Steel Radiator Cost

The cost of stainless steel radiators ranges from $200 to $1,000 for those that can be plumbed. The cost of electric steel radiators is $200 to $1,200. Steel is a much more versatile material in looks and style than cast iron. It is lighter and available in an incredible range of colors. You are most likely to find steel in flat-panel and some unique designer radiators. It does not hold heat like cast iron does. However, its appearance is often a deciding factor for those who want a radiator that matches the space.

Energy Efficiency Radiator

When thinking about a radiator’s energy efficiency, consider two things. The first is what is powering the unit. In a hydronic or steam system, you have a boiler providing the heated water. Your radiator can only be as efficient as your boiler. If your boiler is old and inefficient, then your radiator technically is as well. Newer boilers can be much more efficient, making your radiator more efficient.

Electric units are different. In an electric radiator, close to 100% of the energy powering the unit is converted to heat. This means an electric radiator is technically very efficient. However, electricity is generally the most expensive method of heating a home. While it is the most efficient, most homeowners find lower bills with a high-efficiency boiler and a plumbed radiator system.


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New Radiator Price by Brand

Many good and reliable manufacturers produce steam, hot water, and electric units. Some companies specialize in one type, while others make radiators for all three. You may find that one may be a better fit than another based on style, size, or color. The following brands are considered to be good quality with many options. Of the brands listed below, Hudson Reed and Runtal are considered luxury brands. Runtal makes a very limited range of styles, but they have specific electric, steam, and hot water lines. Hudson Reed also carries radiators that can work with all three but in more traditional designs. Most other companies specialize in hot water or hydronic heaters. Companies like Buderus, owned by Bosch, and Ecostyle specialize in panel radiators. Pensotti is considered one of the middle-of-the-road brands, with the most options for style at an affordable price.

Below are the average costs for the most common brands in the U.S. for plumbed and electric radiators.


Cost per Unit of a Plumbed or Electric Amaze Heater, Pensotti, Buderus, Ecostyle, Hudson Reed, or Runtal Radiator

Cost per Unit of a Plumbed or Electric Amaze Heater, Pensotti, Buderus, Ecostyle, Hudson Reed, or Runtal Radiator


BrandAverage Costs per Unit (Plumbed)Average Costs per Unit (Electric)
Amaze HeaterN/A$150 - $400
Pensotti$200 - $500N/A
Buderus$200 - $600N/A
Ecostyle$300 - $1,000N/A
Hudson Reed$300 - $1,400$500 - $1,000
Runtal$800 - $5,000$700 - $1,200


Radiator Replacement Labor Cost

The cost of radiator replacement varies depending on whether you have electric or plumbed units. Plumbed radiators are the most common, and regardless of whether they are plumbed for steam or hot water, they install similarly. The average timeframe to replace a plumbed radiator is 3 to 4 hours, at roughly $200 an hour. This translates to $600 to $800 for the labor portion for hot water and steam radiator replacement.

Electric units take between 2 and 3 hours to install, at $100 to $150 an hour for $200 to $450 for labor. This makes electric radiator replacements slightly less expensive from a labor standpoint, but many electric radiators can be more costly than hot water radiators, making the total cost range similar.


Cost to Replace an Electric or Hot Water/Steam Radiator

Cost to Replace an Electric or Hot Water/Steam Radiator


TypeAverage Costs (Labor Included)
Electric$200 - $450
Hot Water/Steam$600 - $800


Cost to Replace Radiators by Location

The radiator type you use in a given area is not necessarily going to change. However, small rooms like bathrooms and rooms with other heat sources like kitchens may use much smaller units than living areas. This means your cost to replace a radiator can vary by location. Keep in mind that every room can have a range of costs, based on insulation, windows, ceiling height, and size. Below are the average cost ranges to replace a radiator in various parts of the home.


Cost to Replace a Plumbed or Electric Radiator in a Bathroom, Hall, Kitchen, Bedroom, or Basement

Cost to Replace a Plumbed or Electric Radiator in a Bathroom, Hall, Kitchen, Bedroom, or Basement


LocationAverage Plumbed Cost (Installed)Average Electric Cost (Installed)
Bathroom$800 - $1,100$400 - $950
Hall$800 - $1,400$400 - $1,200
Kitchen$1,000 - $1,500$800 - $1,700
Bedroom$1,000 - $1,800$800 - $1,900
Basement$1,200 - $1,800$1,400 - $2,000


Bathroom Radiator

The cost of an installed plumbed bathroom radiator replacement is $800 to $1,100. The cost of an electric unit installed in the bathroom averages $400 to $950. Bathrooms come in many sizes, meaning they can need a range of radiator sizes. Small bathrooms and powder rooms may get by with a small supplemental radiator in a flat or single panel. However, larger master bathrooms may need a larger radiator or dual panel. For small bathrooms, the labor cost is typically the largest part of the project.

Hall Radiator

The cost of a hall radiator ranges from $800 to $1,400 for a plumbed unit installed. The cost of an electric radiator for the hallway is $400 to $1,200. Like bathrooms, hallways come in several sizes. Hallways can be fairly short and narrow or long and wide. Therefore, the size you need varies. The most common method of heating a hallway is to use a baseboard heater. These long and thin heaters provide even heat down the length of the hallway.

Kitchen Radiator

The cost to replace a plumbed radiator in the kitchen averages $1,000 to $1,500. The cost to replace an electric radiator in the kitchen ranges from $800 to $1,700. Kitchens often do not need as large a radiator as other areas. Your stove or oven provides some heat to the space, so it is common to size down slightly in this area. There can still be a range of sizes, depending on the windows and kitchen placement. Common kitchen styles include column, vertical flat-panel, and baseboard, depending on the style and layout.

Bedroom Radiator

The cost to replace a plumbed radiator in the bedroom is $1,000 to $1,800. The cost to replace an electric radiator in the bedroom averages $800 to $1,900. Bedrooms can also come in a wide range of sizes. Small bedrooms may be 100 to 200 sq.ft, while master bedrooms can be up to 500 sq.ft. This, combined with varying ceiling heights, means a range of radiator sizes. The unit type likely depends on the furniture and layout. The radiator should be free of obstructions stopping the heat from circulating through the room.

Basement Radiator

The cost to replace a plumbed radiator in a basement ranges from $1,200 to $1,800. The cost to replace an electric radiator is $1,400 to $2,000. Basements can often be chilly in the winter, meaning they frequently need slightly larger radiators than other parts. Depending on your basement size, layout, and finish, this project can have a wide range of costs. Nearly any radiator style works well here, depending on the space’s purpose. Choose a radiator that works with the basement style and function for the best results.

Cost to Install a New Radiator

The cost to install a new radiator ranges tremendously based on a few things. A new plumbed radiator needs a line run from the boiler. Depending on the boiler placement and positioning of other radiators, costs range from $600 to $3,200 for parts and labor before the unit is installed. Installation takes less time than a replacement because the old unit does not need to be removed and disposed of. This means the new radiator can be installed in less time for a cost of $200 to $400 for labor, plus the unit cost. This makes the cost range of a new radiator installation $800 to $4,600, depending on the type and area.

Electric radiators are less expensive to install in a new area. Wiring can be run more quickly, and the unit can be installed faster than a replacement. This makes the cost of a new electric radiator installation roughly the same as a replacement, $200 to $450 for labor plus materials for an average cost of $400 to $1,600.


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Designer Radiator Cost

Many older-style radiators were designed to be covered rather than seen. They were functional but not necessarily aesthetically pleasing. However, newer units can often be much more attractive. Known as designer radiators, many today come in several colors and styles. This includes glossy finishes, contemporary styles, and even subtle details on traditional column radiators that make them worth displaying without a cover.

Designer radiators start at around $500 and go as high as $5,000 for some luxury and designer steam models.

Radiator Cover Cost by Type

Many older radiators are designed to have a cover. This is mostly for freestanding units. Most wall-mounted radiators do not have space for a cover. While today’s designer radiators are made to be an attractive addition, some older units may need a cover to blend in with your surroundings. There are several cover styles and types to consider if you have an older style or freestanding radiator you want to hide.


Cost to Install an Adjustable, Under Window, With Storage, or Custom Radiator Cover

Cost to Install an Adjustable, Under Window, With Storage, or Custom Radiator Cover


Cover TypeAverage Price (Installed)
Adjustable$75 - $300
Under Window$75 - $300
Cover With Storage$200 - $300
Custom$200 - $500


Adjustable Covers

The cost of an adjustable cover is $75 to $300. Adjustable radiator covers are made to cover several sizes with minor adjustments. They are not infinitely adjustable, but an adjustable cover may fit if you have a radiator that is a little bigger or smaller than average. These covers are designed to go over the front of the radiator. Like all covers, they have perforations or openings on the front to allow the heat out. They come in a few materials, with MDF being one of the most common.

Under Window Radiator Cover

The cost of an under window radiator cover averages $75 to $300. Under window covers are designed to fit radiators that come up just below the window. This is not one specific type or style because many radiator covers come in sizes that will fit. This includes some with a flat top for storage and adjustable designs. Like all radiator covers, they are perforated or have openings in the front to allow the heat to escape. They are available in many styles and materials.

Radiator Cover With Storage

The cost of a radiator cover with storage ranges from $200 to $300. These radiators do not have interior storage but have a shelf on top of the cover. This shelf allows you to store items on top of your unit without worrying about heat damage. The cover is designed in the front to work like others, allowing heat to pass through perforations or designs. On top is a thick shelf protruding past the rest of the cover. This radiator appears more like furniture.

Custom Covers

The cost of a custom cover ranges from $200 to $500. Many companies make custom covers. If you have a radiator that is not a common size or shape, a custom cover may be your best answer. Most custom covers are made of wood. They can be made to order from dimensions or completely designed for your home. Most companies have a set number of designs and woods they use. You provide the measurements and select a design, and a cover is made to fit.

Radiator Cover Cost by Material

Radiator covers can be found in a few different materials. The majority are either MDF or wood, although it is also possible to find some that are made of rattan or cane as well. Wood covers are the most likely to be customized, while MDF covers are the most likely to be adjustable. Each material does have its own cost range, as well as its own characteristics.


Cost to Install a MDF, Rattan/Cane, or Wood Radiator Cover

Cost to Install a MDF, Rattan/Cane, or Wood Radiator Cover


Cover MaterialAverage Price (Installed)
MDF$75 - $200
Rattan/Cane$200 - $300
Wood$200 - $500


MDF Cover

The cost of an MDF radiator cover averages $75 to $200. MDF covers are a lightweight and attractive way to hide an old unit. They come in adjustable and with top storage designs. Many are sized to fit perfectly beneath windows and come in several colors and styles. MDF is fairly low maintenance and does not swell or shrink like wood. It also handles paint well, so you can paint your cover to update its look.

Cane Cover

The cost of a cane or rattan radiator cover is $200 to $300. These covers are fairly rare and may need to be custom ordered, depending on the size. The majority of the cover is usually made of wood. The front panels of the cover are covered with a type of cane or rattan in one of several designs. This is a good way of getting a wooden cover for less because the front is naturally permeated and easier to create. The rattan or cane pattern on the front can be painted if desired.

Wooden Covers

The cost of a wooden radiator cover ranges from $200 to $500. Wooden covers are one of the most common types. They can be built in many sizes and styles. They can be contemporary or traditional. They can include a storage top, have carved or applied details, and the perforations on the front can be made in several ways. Most custom covers are made of wood, but you can find some prefab covers. They can be found in many wood species and colors.

Maintenance

The amount of maintenance your radiator needs depends on the heating system type. Most electric models are very low maintenance. They only require periodic cleaning and inspections to ensure they are working properly.

Steam and hot water radiators are different. Because they contain water, you must bleed any water that accumulates in the pipes. Air can escape from the water, making your system less efficient. Once the air is bled through the valves, you must check the radiator’s pressure to ensure it is within range. This can be done at the boiler, where a gauge should be prominently displayed.

Depending on the system, you may need to add a central heating inhibitor to your system periodically. This is a liquid designed to keep your pipes clean and prevent rust in cast-iron radiators. It should be used on your boiler manufacturer’s recommended schedule.

Finally, the last of the maintenance is related to the boiler. Ensure its combustion chamber is cleaned regularly to remove grime and keep it working at peak efficiency.


Minimalist Living Room With a Vertical Cast Iron Radiator


Radiant Floor Heating vs Radiators

Radiant floor heating 2 and radiators work similarly. Both use radiant heat and convection to warm a room. But they do so in different ways. Radiators heat the air directly, where it then circulates through the room. Radiant floor heating warms the floor and the people and objects on the floor rather than the air. This tends to make people more comfortable at lower temperatures, meaning you can often turn down your system.

Both types can be electric or hydronic and operate in the same way. Electric systems use resistance to create heat, while hydronic systems use a closed-loop boiler system to distribute hot water.

Of the two, radiant floor heating is more expensive, particularly in an existing home. Radiators are less expensive in general, but you may need several in a larger room or open floor plan to make the space comfortable. The two systems are sold and installed differently, with radiant heat being sold by the square foot and radiators being sold and installed by the unit. The costs below are based on an average 400 sq.ft. living room. Different rooms may change costs.


Comparison of the Cost to Install Radiators or Radiant Floor Heating

Comparison of the Cost to Install Radiators or Radiant Floor Heating


TypeAverage Costs (Installed)
Radiators$1,000 - $3,500
Radiant Floor Heating$4,000 - $10,000


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Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Radiator Painting

Most radiators can be painted. If you choose, you can change your unit’s color to blend in with the room. Costs vary depending on the unit type and shape and whether you are painting the rest of the room. Expect to pay $20 to $50 per radiator.

Boiler Replacement Cost

The cost to replace a boiler is roughly equal to the cost of a new boiler installation. Boilers come in several sizes, fuel types, and efficiencies. They have a total cost range of $1,500 to $15,000.

Smart Thermostat

Your radiator system likely uses a thermostat 3 to indicate when to turn on and off. Thermostats can be programmed to only be on when you are home. Smart thermostats take this a step further, giving you control when you are not at home and learning your schedule to operate more efficiently. They cost between $250 and $350 installed.

Central Heating Inhibitors

Central heating inhibitors are liquid that can be run through your boiler system to clear build-up in the pipes and prevent rust in old cast-iron radiators. The inhibitor costs between $40 and $100 a bottle and should be used according to your boiler’s recommendations.

Decorative Valves

If you want to personalize your unit or make it fit in better, you can use one method to replace your current valves. Decorative valves come in many styles and finishes. They can have porcelain caps, spoke handles, and be made of many metals. They cost between $10 and $30 each.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Lifespan. Radiators have varying lifespans, depending on their type and material. Expect them to last 8 to 12 years for electric models, with plumbed models lasting up to 20. Some older units have been known to last 80 years or more.
  • Warranty. Many electric units come with an extended warranty, but always check before purchasing. Plumbed radiators usually have a more limited warranty of up to one year, but check with your plumber for more information.
  • Troubleshooting. Many radiator problems are small and fixable. Before replacing your current system, hire an experienced plumber or electrician to inspect your existing radiators and see if they can be repaired.
  • Repairs. Most repairs can save money over replacements. Replacing valves or single fins can often solve problems for less than the cost of a new one.
  • Alternatives. Radiators are one way to heat your home. Other methods include using heat pumps 4, forced hot air, and radiant flooring systems. Keep in mind that each system may involve a much more costly and complicated install.

FAQs

  • How do I install a radiator in my house?

Radiators should be installed by a plumber for a hydronic system or an electrician for an electric system. Plumbed systems must be connected to a boiler in a closed-loop, while electric systems should be wired to your home’s circuit panel.

  • Can you put a radiator on any wall?

Yes, in most cases. However, outside walls make the system less efficient because it loses some heat through thermal transfer.

  • How much would a plumber charge to change a radiator?

Most plumbers charge between $600 and $800 an hour to change a radiator.

  • Should I replace 40-year-old radiators?

Not necessarily. If they are working and in good repair, there is no need. If they are leaking, rusty, or unsightly, you may want to think about a replacement.

  • Do I need to drain the system to add a radiator?

This depends on the system. Some closed-loop systems can have valves installed that allow you to shut off a section for additions. Others must be drained.

Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
1 Mounted: A support on which something is attached or hung
glossary term picture Radiant Flooring 2 Radiant floor heating: (Also known as Radiant floor) A heating system using tubes or electric wires installed underneath the flooring
glossary term picture Thermostat 3 Thermostat: A device that senses and regulates temperature by turning heating and cooling devices on and off
4 Heat pumps: A device used to heat or cool the air in a home by moving hot and cold air to where it is needed. The unit pulls hot air from inside the home in the summer and directs it outdoors, leaving the inside air cool, and pulls heat from outdoors in the winter and directs it into the home, thereby warming it

Cost to replace a radiator varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

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The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources
Horizontal White Radiator Installed on a Gray Wall

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Cost to replace a radiator varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources, including specialized publications and websites, cost studies, U.S. associations, reports from the U.S. government, contractors and subcontractors, material suppliers, material price services, and other vendor websites. For more information, read our Methodology and sources