8 Unexpected Ways To Repurpose An Old Radiator Around The House

When it comes to heating up your home during the colder months of the year, you have plenty of different options. Nowadays, however, the vast majority of homes rely on forced air heating or heat pumps. According to data from Elements, only less than 1% of single family homes built in 2020 utilized hot water or steam heating, types of heating most commonly associated with radiators. After looking at this data, it's clear that radiators are falling out of fashion. However, if you're looking to upgrade, it might be worth it to hang onto your old unit. Upcycling your radiator into something new can not only give a second life to an existing piece, but it can also ensure that you don't have to haul an ultra-heavy hunk of metal out of your home. We've listed eight unique ways to repurpose your radiator in your house below.

Old radiators might not be the most efficient way to heat your house anymore, but they do still carry a certain amount of charm. Vintage pieces often featured ornate designs cast in high-quality metal, but even more modern options can bring some visual interest to a space. If you're willing to try your hand at a DIY project that involves some uncommon materials, an old radiator could be an unexpected and sturdy base for your next project. 

1. Dining table base

Despite their typically simple design, dining tables are often wildly expensive. Luckily, if you can source the correct materials, it's pretty easy to make an industrial-inspired dining room table on your own. With a large slab of wood that's finished and sealed, some metal legs, and an old radiator, you can make a table that looks like it came straight from an expensive furniture store. Build a basic table with the slab of wood and legs, then secure the radiator under the center of the table to better stabilize it and bring some more texture to an otherwise-basic piece.

2. Pedestal/tray

If you happen to have an older radiator that features more intricate detailing, consider removing these pieces and using them as pedestals or trays to display your décor. Different radiator styles will have different pieces, but grates along the front and the top of the unit will often work well for this purpose. Carefully remove the piece, then give it a good clean to help prevent any rusting and determine if there's any structural damage. After you're done, either leave it as-is if you like the metal look or give it a coat of paint as a layer of protection from rust.

3. Unique chair

Turning a radiator into a chair might seem like a bit of an outlandish idea, but with a bit of elbow grease, it's possible. By separating the radiator's fins into individual pieces, you can then weave them together to create the base of an armchair. Add on some pipes to make your frame, and you have a unique industrial piece that's sure to wow your guests. Of course, sitting on straight metal is likely not the most comfortable, so it's also a good idea to invest in a stylish cushion to transform your room and make your chair feel a bit more cozy.

4. Console table

Incorporating an entryway table is one of the easiest ways to give your guests a warming and inviting first impression into your home, so why not make one out of an item that used to literally cozy up your space? To make a console table out of a radiator, all you need is a tabletop and a way to secure it. In a lot of cases, you won't even need to uninstall or move your radiator to pull off this plan — just give it a coat of paint if desired and choose a material for your tabletop that can withstand relatively high temperatures.

5. Coffee table

Glass-top coffee tables can bring a minimalist and sleek look to a space, but if you're looking to create some juxtaposition, consider pairing this modern material with something that leans more rustic to create the perfect coffee table for your home. Old radiator fins can be the ideal addition to this otherwise-simple build. Remove them from the unit, lay them flat, and then sandwich them between the legs of the table and the glass top to show off the metal's interesting texture. This way, you can enjoy the vintage look without having to worry about causing more damage or cleaning all of the annoying nooks and crannies.

6. Shelving unit frame

Shelving is an absolute necessity in a home, whether you're using it to store away essentials or simply to decorate a plain space. This build is great for either option, as you're able to choose exactly how many shelves you need and how wide you want your piece to be. Take the two end pieces of your radiator and suspend shelves between them with the help of some metal beams. Add some cross beams on the back for a bit of additional support and you're ready to store your books, knickknacks, or even shoes on a shelving unit that's both stylish and sturdy.

7. Unexpected lamp

It might seem a bit intimidating to build your own lamp, but as it turns out, it's actually fairly simple. As long as you have a stable base to run your wiring through, you can easily transform just about anything into a DIY lamp with the help of a pre-made kit. Thanks to the fact that they're heat-resistant, sturdy, and have plenty of different holes and pipes to weave your wires through, radiators can make the perfect base for a new piece of accent lighting, especially if you've been on the hunt for something more unique and unexpected than a simple floor lamp.

8. Bench base

If you've ever tried to move your radiator, you likely already know how heavy they can be. This might be to your detriment if you're looking to rearrange your space, but it can actually be a helpful characteristic when it comes to certain builds. Benches need to be both sturdy enough to support a person's weight and heavy enough so they don't wobble or tip when someone sits down, and a solid metal radiator can act as a fantastic base to accomplish both of these tasks without sacrificing style or visual interest. Simply add a piece of wood along the top and you're good to go.