How Close to a Radiator Can You Put Furniture

How Close to a Radiator Can You Put Furniture?

How close to a radiator can you put furniture? Leave at least 1 foot (12 inches / 30cm) of space between a radiator and any furniture.  While fire is unlikely, a radiator can easily warp or damage wood, upholstery, and leather furniture. Furniture that is too close can inhibit the radiator’s ability to heat a room.

If you are given a choice on where you want a radiator installed, you know that you need to pick somewhere that will allow the air to circulate out without being trapped.  Most times you are not able to pick where you want the radiator to be unless of course you are building the home or redoing the heat.  Therefore, it will be up to you to find out how close you can put your furniture to a radiator. 

The best advice we have ever been given is to place your furniture at least one foot away from a radiator.  This is good advice as you certainly do not want the radiator to get too hot and harm your furniture, or worse yet, catch something on fire.

If you have too much stuff around your radiator, it can not only become dangerous, but it can also make it so the radiator is not working as efficiently as it should.  

Furniture and radiator issues

Various pieces of furniture can have damage done to them if they are placed too close to a radiator.  Wood furniture, along with upholstery, can get too hot.  This may cause them to start on fire.  These types of fires can then easily be spread through a house. 


Curtains make a great addition to any windows.  However, many times a radiator may be placed under a window.  While you want the curtains to cover all of the windows, they should not be long enough to cover the radiator.  It is much too easy for a radiator to create a spark.  

Radiators will also not be able to perform as effectively if curtains are covering them.  You may think that the heat is not working well, so you turn up the thermostat.  However, the heat could be working fine, and the curtains are just capturing the excess heat instead of distributing it through the room. 


You might consider putting a bookshelf in front of a radiator, but this is not a good idea at all.  If you have books on the shelf, they can take a real hit to them.  The heat can damage the pages of the book or even the cover, or it could possibly start on fire.  And the excess heat will dry out the books, which will cause the pages to fall out.  


Lamps should steer clear of being too close to a radiator.  If a lamp’s plugin is dangling too close to the radiator, it can melt.  And if the lamp has a paper lampshade, you are only asking for trouble as it can quickly catch fire. 

Sofas and loveseats

If you have a sofa or a loveseat pushed against the radiator, heat will not be allowed to pass through.  But if you move the sofa or loveseat out by several inches, you can have that heat rise and circulate.  


While it may be tempting to have a bed close to a toasty radiator, especially in the dead of winter, please refrain from doing so!  If you have never burnt yourself on a hot radiator, you are not missing out.  So imagine getting woken up from a good dream when you fling your arm on top of the radiator.  Ouch!  

You should also think about your health and sleeping too close to a radiator.  If you are too close, you may develop insomnia or get a headache from becoming overheated.  

Fire hazards

As you can probably tell by now, radiators are a fire hazard.  If you are uncertain about placing anything in front of the radiator, refrain from doing so.  While your radiator was created to keep you warm and comfortable, you need to understand that besides keeping a house warm, there is not another function for a radiator. 

This means that a radiator is not a chair.  Never allow anyone to sit on it.  Even if you are short on seating, it is a much better idea to cram one more person on the couch or sit on the floor.  Thermal injuries can be caused by allowing a person to sit on one.  

And that also means that a radiator is not a table. Your glass of juice or your plate of pizza does not belong on the radiator.  Neither does your child’s toys.  Your dog or cat should never be allowed to lay on them, no matter how hot they like things.   Never place your newspapers or magazines, or mail on top of one.  It is just too easy to catch on fire.  

And let us not forget about drying out mittens, socks, hats, scarves, coats, and snow pants.  Never use your radiator for this when you are done playing outside. Likewise, you should not place your swimsuit on it to dry.  It should never be used as a towel dryer either. Or a clothes drying rack!    It is much too easy for anything to catch on fire.   

If you have never been in a home that has radiators, you must understand how hot they can get.  We used to play for hours outside after the snow had fallen all night long when we stayed with our grandparents.  After being in the snow all morning, by lunch, our boots had leaked and our socks were soaked.  Our hats and mittens are heavy with snow. 

Grandma made us strip down and we put our stuff on the radiators to dry while we ate our lunch.  Then we hightailed it back outside with somewhat dried-out outdoor wear.  Thinking back, this was probably not the safest thing to do, but at the time, everyone was doing it.  Guess we just know better now!


Many people do not like the looks of large radiators and will try to use furniture to cover them up.  While this is OK, just make sure that you do not get too close to the radiator itself.