MDF radiator covers have been one of the common choices for care homes mainly due to their cost being relatively lower than other options like metal radiator covers. MDF is incredibly cheap to source, and with the tightening budgets that care homes often fall victim to, it’s easy to go after the “cost effective” option.


Another reason why some may choose MDF is that painting wood is an extremely simple process, so you may customise the radiator cover to your design requirements and fit that in to the room’s current colour-scheme.


However, are they necessarily the best choice? MDF radiator covers come with certain limitations that may outweigh their advantages in some scenarios. Read on and find out what the major concerns on the use MDF radiator covers are, and why metal radiator covers may be a more favourable alternative.

Major Concerns on MDF radiator Covers

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Hygiene and Maintenance

Cleanliness is a high priority in care and nursing environments, where radiators, including their covers, should be cleaned thoroughly in an efficient manner to keep up with the hygiene standards.


But MDF fibreboard radiator covers are difficult to remove, increasing the risk of dust build-up over time, potentially reducing its efficiency in heating the space. Additionally, inadequate cleaning of the radiator can result in numerous health concerns, especially in environments where residents have compromised immune systems.

Quality Control

A significant drawback of MDF radiator covers is that they are often made on-site and not finished consistently to a factory standard, unlike their metal counterparts. This lack of standardisation can compromise the overall appearance and functionality of the radiator cover.


The quality of an MDF radiator cover largely depends on the workmanship of the individual carpenter crafting it, which means they may be more susceptible to potential issues arising from human errors during production. Opting for a manufactured radiator cover is likely to provide better long-term reliability and performance.

Product Lifespan and Durability

Being constructed from wood, MDF radiator covers absorb water. This can become a problem when, for example, a wet mop-head brushes against the radiator cover during regular cleaning. Over time, such exposure to moisture can cause damage to the wood and lead to premature replacements. This can be both a financial burden and an inconvenience for care home management.


Care and nursing homes often require robust heating solutions due to the high demand that radiators are put under through the use of hoists, wheelchairs and other equipment used daily in the environment. Chipboard, being a weak material, won’t withstand these levels of wear and tear. MDF's resilience can also falter when exposed to prolonged water exposure, and also increasing the risk of dampness and mould.


What Makes Metal Radiator Cover A Better Option?

Metal radiator covers offer superior efficiency, durability, and quality control when compared to MDF covers, which make them stand out as a more reliable and cost effective heating solution. Here’s why:

Robustness and Durability

Metals are more robust than MDF, and can better withstand wear and tear in busy environment like care homes. Metal radiator covers, such as the Covora Lite, offer superior strength and durability, providing long-lasting performance without the risk of damage or wear over time.

Factory-Made Precision

Metal radiator covers are manufactured using cutting-edge machinery and technologies that enable precision and accuracy throughout the production, ensuring a consistent and professional finish in every instance.

Better Energy Efficiency

One crucial aspect that sets metal radiator covers apart is their impact on energy efficiency. According to a spokesperson at The Radiator Centre, “Wood or MDF radiator covers are the worst for reducing energy efficiency,” as they can limit the amount of infrared heat by up to 30 percent and restrict the airflow around the radiator, reducing its heat output. This inefficiency translates to higher energy costs as more energy is needed to achieve the same level of heat output.

Hygiene and Maintenance

Metal radiator covers can be easily taken off for cleaning, ensuring that dust and debris do not accumulate over time. Certain metal radiator cover models, like the ones in the Covora range, go the extra mile in prioritising hygiene. They are treated with BioCote, an antimicrobial technology that inhibits the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms on the surface. The antimicrobial coating adds an additional layer of protection, ensuring a cleaner and more hygienic heating solution.

Long-Term Cost Considerations

While MDF radiator covers might seem more budget-friendly initially, their frequent replacement and increased labour costs for upkeep ultimately outweigh any potential savings. Metal radiator covers may have a higher upfront cost, but their longevity and efficiency make them a more cost-effective choice in the long run.


MDF vs Metal Radiator Covers








Reduce efficiency by up to 30%

Heat outputs to BS EN 442 Certification for efficient and safe heating

Durability & life span


Prone to damage, weak against water and moisture

Robust 1 & 1.5mm Zintec Steel


Cheaper upfront, but requires frequent maintenance or replacements, less cost-effective in the long term

Higher upfront cost, but more robust, designed to last, and low maintenance, hence more cost-effective in the long term



Exposed to risk of damp and mould

BioCote protected ensuring optimal hygiene maintenance


Can be painted

Available in a wide range of RAL colours

Quality Control

Quality is dependent on the craftsmanship of individual carpenters

Standardised manufacturing in the factory


Covora Lite


Covora Lite LST radiators ensure safe surface temperatures. These radiators are the ideal and affordable heating solution for classrooms and student accommodation refurbishments.


Safe, robust and cost-effective, Covora Lite is a one-piece construction LST radiator with a much faster turnaround when compared with other Contour products. All end panels are manufactured and kept in stock ready for the front panel to be punched, this forward thinking ensures Covora Lite is delivered much quicker.


Get in touch today and book a free consultation with one of our heating experts to discuss LST solutions for your projects.


Q1: What are the major concerns associated with using MDF radiator covers in care and nursing environments?

A1: Some of the major concerns with MDF radiator covers include hygiene and maintenance issues, lack of consistent quality control, and reduced durability due to water absorption, which can lead to damage and premature replacements.

Q2: How do metal radiator covers, like the Covora Lite, address the concerns posed by MDF covers?

A2: Metal radiator covers, such as Covora Lite, offer better robustness, durability, and energy efficiency. They are manufactured with precision, easy to clean, and designed to withstand wear and tear. Certain models, like those in the Covora range, even come with antimicrobial protection for enhanced hygiene.

Q3: What makes metal radiator covers more energy-efficient than MDF covers, and how does this impact heating costs?

A3: Metal radiator covers allow better airflow and heat distribution, while MDF covers can limit infrared heat and airflow, resulting in increased energy consumption. This inefficiency in MDF covers translates to higher heating costs.

Q4: In terms of cost-effectiveness, how do MDF and metal radiator covers compare over the long term?

A4: While MDF radiator covers might have a cheaper upfront cost, their frequent replacements and maintenance requirements can lead to higher long-term costs. Metal radiator covers, despite a higher initial investment, offer greater durability and lower maintenance needs, making them a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

Q5: What role does the Covora Lite metal radiator cover play in providing a safer and more efficient heating solution for environments like classrooms and student accommodations?

A5: The Covora Lite metal radiator cover provides a safe and efficient heating solution for spaces like classrooms and student accommodations. Its one-piece construction ensures safe surface temperatures, durability, and quick delivery, making it a practical choice for high-demand environment