Exposed pipes are part of a story in a trendy, industrial interior design. If your home is decorated in any other style, pipework running along your floors, ceiling, or walls is nothing but an eyesore.
Fortunately, there are ways to hide unsightly plumbing. Boxing in exposed pipes is one of the easiest ways to conceal them. Wondering how to do it? Read on.
How To Box In Exposed Pipes
Covering pipework with custom-made boxes is a fairly easy project for beginners. You won’t break the bank either – all you need is a handful of materials from your home improvement store and tools you most likely own.
The steps below make it easy to box in vertical pipes, horizontal pipes, or pipes on a ceiling.
What You’ll Need
- Scant timber
- MDF, plywood, or plasterboard
- Wall plugs
- Poly filler
- Wood saw
- Tape measure
- Spirit level
- Caulking gun
- Tape measure
1. Measure The Area
The most important thing you need to know when boxing pipes is the box size you need.
Since every home can have different lengths of exposed pipe, the only way to figure out the right box size is by measuring the pipework you want to cover.
Grab the tape measure and check the length of the pipes you wish to conceal.
To figure out the depth, measure the distance from the outer edge of the pipes to the wall behind them. Add five to ten millimetres for some additional room.
Expert tip: If you want to conceal a long portion of the pipe, take the measurements at several points along the pipe length. Use the highest numbers when building the box.
2. Cut The Timber
Now that you know what size your box should be, it’s time to cut the battens to size.
You need two battens of the length you want to cover. The width should match the pipe’s protruding distance from the wall or ceiling.
Cut the battens to size with a wood saw. Remove all burrs with coarse sandpaper, then sand the entire surface with a fine-grit sandpaper. You can do this manually or use an orbital sander if you have one.
3. Install The Battens
Place one of the battens in position and ask a helper to keep it firm against the wall. Check that it’s levelled with a spirit level.
Drill holes through the batten at a distance of ten to 15 centimetres. Ensure that the drill bit leaves a sign on the wall.
Remove the batten from the wall and repeat with the other batten on the other side of the pipe.
You can now change the wood drill bit with a masonry drill bit and drill the holes into the wall.
Push a wall plug into each hole. Place the first batten in position, making sure that the holes match. Drive screws through each hole to fasten the battens to the wall.
4. Cut The Front Board
Once the battens are installed, measure the distance from one batten to the other, from outer edge to outer edge. This is the width of the front board you must install.
The height of the front board must match the length of the battens. If you wish, you can also cut two additional boards to cover the sides of the box.
You can use MDF, plywood, or plasterboard for the front board. MDF is one of the thinnest options. Plywood is thicker than MDF but thinner than plasterboard.
Both plasterboard and plywood are easy to paint and blend in with your walls. MDF is a better choice if you want the box to look like a cabinet.
5. Affix The Front Board
The last step is fixing the front (and sides) to the battens. Drive screws or nails directly through the front board and into the battens.
Make sure the screw or nail heads are recessed beneath the board for a seamless finish.
Use poly filler to level over the top of the fasteners. Let it dry as instructed. In the meantime, seal the edges with caulk.
Sand the entire surface with fine-grit sandpaper. Remove the dust and apply a coat or two of paint so that the box can blend in with your interior.
How can I box in pipes in a corner?
Boxing in pipes in a corner isn’t that different from boxing in pipes on a ceiling or wall. The main difference is the construction of the box, which will only have two sides rather than three.
Measure the size of the box as explained above, then install one batten on one wall. Install the second batten on the adjacent wall, making sure it fits perpendicularly on the first batten.
Screw the battens in place and seal the joints with caulk. You can now install a finishing board over the battens or paint them directly.
How to box in pipes under a boiler or radiator?
The easiest way to box in pipes under the radiator is with skirting boards and pipe collars. You can find specific skirting boards and pipe collars at home improvement stores, including Wickes and B&Q.
Similar, ready-made solutions exist for the pipes under your boiler. Although you could build a cover yourself, boiler pipe covers are designed to allow for proper airflow in the boiler area.
If you decide to build the cover yourself, make sure it won’t interfere with the domestic boiler installation standards once applied.
Since boilers are also expensive, you might want to use a standard cover to prevent damaging your boiler with a DIY pipe box.
Can I box in pipes in the basement?
You can definitely box in the pipes in your basement. Use the method above to build the box and conceal your pipework.
How to box in pipes in the bathroom?
Boxing pipes in the bathroom, especially pipes under the sink or behind the toilet, is often challenging.
A removable box is the best solution for the area behind the toilet – toilets often need repairs or replacement. Plumbing costs can increase easily if your plumber has to remove the box to access the pipes.
You can install a sink skirt, a sink pedestal, or a cabinet to conceal the pipes under your sink. A faux cabinet can replace a pipe box, or you could replace PVC pipes with stainless steel ones and leave them exposed.
Boxing in exposed pipes is a quick and simple way of embellishing your home. Whether you opt for removable boxes or semi-permanent ones fastened to a wall, we hope this guide can help you complete the task successfully.