In recent times, there has been a large increase in the number of people that are working from the comfort of their own homes. It’s true that there are many benefits to this, but the downside is often the lack of space. You may find that you are trying to fit a workspace into a smaller area than you are used to, or you are converting an unused bedroom or walk-in cupboard and you need to find room for your desk. If the only space you have available for your desk is over the radiator, then there are a couple of things that you may want to think about to help you decide if this is the right place for it to go.

Desk Table with Clearance from Radiator

What to Consider Before Putting a Desk Over a Radiator

There are different considerations that you may need to make depending on what type of desk you have, what equipment you will be using and how close you will end up being to the radiator.

Type of Desk

The first thing that should be considered is the type of desk that you want to install. Some desks will be more suitable to be placed near radiators than others and simple factors such as the design, and material it is made from can have an impact on whether it is suitable.

Shelf-like Desk

A shelf-like desk over a radiator may not be a great idea, especially if you do not have any holes for ventilation. A good portion of the heat from a radiator will rise directly out of the top and anything that is too close to this surface will become extremely warm or even hot very quickly.

If you do intend to have a desk directly over a radiator with very little clearance, it would be beneficial to drill or cut some holes at the back to help the air circulate around the room.

Desk with Closed Back or Cupboards

If you have a desk with a closed back or cupboard, you will want to ensure that you leave enough space for some of the heat from the radiator to dissipate. It is generally considered that furniture of this type should be at least 6-12-inches away from a radiator surface. This is also an important thing to consider when you are storing certain items inside those cupboards.

Freestanding Desk

The best type of desk to have near a radiator is a freestanding desk that is entirely open at the back. This way, you can leave a good 6-inches at the back, there will be enough room all around the desk to ensure that the airflow is adequate, and the radiator is not having a negative impact on your desk.


The material your desk is made from is also something that you will need to consider. If you have a wooden desk, it can be more susceptible to warping if it is placed near a radiator, and if you have a metal desk, there is a good chance that it will conduct heat and become hot to the touch.


This one really goes without saying but you will have to consider the purpose of the desk and what kind of equipment you will be using. If you have your computer or other electronic devices plugged in while working over a radiator, then it will get hotter than usual. This can cause damage to the batteries or other components within the device and may even stop it from working entirely.

Personal Safety

Finally, you will need to think about how many hours you will be sitting at the desk and your proximity to it. If you are sensitive to too much heat or experience breathing difficulty when it is too hot, maybe having your desk over a radiator is not such a great idea – unless the radiator is switched off.

What Clearance Do I Need for a Desk Above a Radiator?

As having a desk over a radiator is not particularly recommended, there is no hard and fast rule, but I recommend having a clearance of at least 6-inches all the way around. If the desk is directly above the radiator, I would also look to cut some ventilation holes into the desk, providing it is not antique of course (if it is antique, you should keep it away from the radiator anyway).

Can I Have a Desk Over a Radiator?

As we have looked at above, it is not recommended to have a desk directly above a radiator. Radiators work by convection which means that there needs to be airflow and having a desk or other furniture that prevents circulation is not advisable.

Having a desk over a radiator will significantly reduce the heat output and operating efficiency of the unit, not to mention the damage it could cause to the desk surface or your other property.


There we have it; it is not a good idea to have a desk or any other furniture directly over or touching a radiator. Not only can radiators warp wood and damage other materials, but they can also cause expensive damage to electronic devices that you may have stationed there. Radiators that are boxed in by furniture can also see a reduction in efficiency meaning that your energy consumption will likely go up. If you have a desk, it is better to have it placed in front of the radiator with a clearance of at least 6-inches.

2 Reasons Not to Have Radiators Behind Furniture Infographic

Plumbing Wizard Tips

“Where possible, avoid having a desk directly over a radiator!”

“If you must have a desk directly over a radiator, have ventilation holes cut into it!”

“Be careful with electronic devices and heat sources – this can mean the desk too if it is heating up!”

“If your desk is becoming noticeably warm or even hot, you will need to move the desk a little further away!”

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to put a table over a radiator?

Although you can put a table over a radiator, it’s not recommended unless there is enough clearance for the air to flow naturally and prevent the table from heating up too much.

The heat generated by radiators can damage wood, warp it or potentially ruin the table’s finish which can lead to an expensive fix. This applies to any furniture you wish to place on top of the radiator.

Is it OK to put a desk over a radiator?

You can but it is not advisable. The heat generated by a radiator will ultimately cause extreme heat in your desk and this, in turn, will damage sensitive electronics such as laptops, desktop computers and hard drives.

Can I put a desk in front of a radiator?

Yes, having a desk in front of a radiator is a far better option than having it on top. If you are to have a desk in front of a radiator, you will want to leave at least a 6-12-inch clearance from the radiator and desk surfaces.


Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.

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