Are you looking for ways to cover boiler pipes? You’ve come to the right place! Boiler and central heating pipes, often made of metal or PVC, may clash with the overall interior design, especially in homes or offices with a modern, sleek, or minimalist aesthetic.
In areas where there are multiple pipes or a tangle of connecting pieces, the space can appear cluttered or messy, even if it’s otherwise tidy. Over time, pipes can show signs of rust, discoloration, or other wear, making them even more noticeable and unsightly.
In essence, while boiler pipes are crucial for a home’s heating system, their exposed presence can detract from the desired look and feel of an interior space. I have recently covered how to hide a boiler, but what can you do with the heating pipes we find throughout the house?
How to Cover Boiler Pipes
Boiler pipes obviously play a critical role in the functioning of boiler systems, which are designed to produce and distribute heat. The primary purpose of boiler pipes is to transport hot water or steam generated in the boiler to various parts of a building or facility. This is how homes and buildings get their central heating.
1. Box Them in With a Simple Wooden Frame
Boxing in boiler pipes with a simple wooden frame is a straightforward task that can effectively conceal unsightly pipes and give a more polished look to your space.
- Timber battens (size dependent on the area you’re boxing)
- Plywood or MDF board (thickness based on your preference, commonly 6mm to 12mm)
- Saw (hand saw or power saw)
- Screwdriver or drill
- Measuring tape
- Wood filler
- Paint or wood stain (optional)
Measurement and Planning: Measure the area around the boiler pipes. Decide on the width, height, and depth of the box you want to build. Take into account any valves or access points that you might need to reach for heating repairs. You might want to create a removable section or panel for these areas.
Cut Timber Battens: Based on your measurements, cut the timber battens to create a frame around the pipes. These will be fixed to the wall and will support the plywood or MDF panels.
Fix Battens to the Wall: Hold the battens against the wall, ensuring they’re level. Using screws, fix them into the wall, ensuring they’re sturdy. Depending on your wall type, you might need wall plugs, if you’re fixing into studs, that’s even better!
Measure & Cut Plywood/MDF Panels: Measure the outer dimensions of the battens frame. These measurements will help you cut the plywood or MDF to size. Cut the panels using a saw.
Attach Plywood/MDF to the Battens: Align the cut panels to the battens, screwing the panels into the battens. Ensure the screws are evenly spaced and not too close to the edge to prevent the wood from splitting.
Create Access Points (if needed): If there are valves or sections you need to access regularly, consider making a small door or a removable panel. This can be done by cutting the desired section out and then reattaching it using hinges or magnets.
Finishing Touches: Use wood filler to fill any screw holes or gaps. Once dried, sand the box to smoothen any rough edges and prepare it for painting or staining. Paint or stain the box to match the rest of your decor, making sure the paint is suitable for the room’s conditions, especially if there’s moisture or heat.
Boxing in boiler pipes can transform the appearance of a room, giving it a more tidy and organized look.
While the task requires precision in measurement and cutting, with the right tools and some patience, it’s a feasible DIY project that can offer immense satisfaction once completed.
2. Create a False Wall
If they are too large to put a simple wooden frame around them, consider putting in a false wall. Using wood or drywall to create a custom wall for boiler pipes can be a great way to hide unsightly pipes and improve the aesthetics of a space.
However, it’s crucial to approach this method with careful planning and consideration of safety factors.
Assess the Space
Before starting, measure the length, width, and depth of the space where the pipes run. Ensure you have enough clearance around the pipes for the casing and for proper ventilation.
Choose the Material
- Suitable for a warm, natural look.
- Plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) are commonly used due to their versatility and ease of use.
- Offers a seamless finish that can be painted to match the surrounding walls.
- Fire-resistant drywall is advisable for added safety.
Frame the Casing
Build a basic frame using 2x4s to support the casing structure. This frame will provide the base upon which you will attach the wood or drywall. Ensure the frame allows easy access to shut-off valves or other important fixtures.
Install the Casing
- Cut the wood panels to size.
- Secure them to the frame using screws or nails.
- Fill any gaps or seams with wood filler.
- Cut the drywall sheets to fit the framed area.
- Secure them to the frame using drywall screws.
- Tape and mud the seams for a seamless finish.
Ensure there are adequate ventilation gaps at the bottom and top of the casing to allow heat to dissipate. This is crucial to avoid any overheating or safety hazards.
- Sand the surface for a smooth finish.
- Apply a coat of primer followed by paint or stain of your choice.
- Once the mud has dried, sand the seams for a smooth finish.
- Apply a coat of primer and then paint to match the surrounding walls.
- Regularly inspect the enclosed space to ensure there are no leaks or damages.
- Make sure the pipes remain accessible for maintenance or emergencies.
- If using wood, consider applying a fire-retardant treatment for added safety.
Access Panel (Optional)
Consider adding a small access panel or door if you ever need to access the pipes for maintenance. There are commercial access panels available or you can create a custom one to blend with the casing.
3. Paint Them
Painting boiler pipes can improve their appearance and even offer some protective benefits. This is a quick way to hide your boiler pipes by painting them the same color as the wall, instantly camouflaging them.
However, given the high temperatures these pipes can reach, it’s important to use the right type of paint and apply it properly. Use a high-temperature paint, also known as heat-resistant paint that can withstand the temperatures boiler pipes are exposed to.
Make sure you turn the boiler off before applying the paint and give the pipes a good clean with warm soapy water.
Lightly sand the pipes using fine-grit sandpaper (like 220-grit) which will help provide a slightly rough surface which helps the paint adhere better. Make sure you wipe down the pipes with a damp cloth to remove any sanding residue.
Apply the paint in thin, even coats. It’s better to apply multiple thin coats rather than one thick coat.
Allow each coat to dry as per the manufacturer’s instructions before applying the next. Over time, the paint might wear off due to heat and regular wear and tear, so regularly inspect the pipes and touch up the paint as needed.
4. Use Pipe Covers or Sleeves
Using pipe covers or sleeves is a common and effective method to conceal unsightly boiler pipes. These covers provide a cleaner, more organized appearance and can also offer some level of insulation.
There are several types of pipe covers including:
- Foam insulation sleeves
- Metal pipe covers
- PVC and plastic pipe covers (which can be painted to match the wall color)
- Snap-on covers
- Box-style covers
When using pipe covers make sure you consider the material compatibility, ease of installation, price, maintenance, and durability and whether the style and color of the covers match the room’s decor. Some of them can be painted with uPVC paint to integrate the pipe covers into your decor easily.
5. Install a Decorative Screen or Panel
Installing a decorative screen or panel to hide boiler pipes can effectively conceal unsightly plumbing while also adding to the decor in your room.
To install a screen, use a tape measure to get the dimensions of the area you want to cover. Remember to provide some clearance around the pipes for ventilation and access. Decide whether you want the screen or panel to sit on the floor or be mounted on the wall.
There are many different panels you can choose from. Sliding panels are useful for easy access to the boiler pipes, hinged panels can be opened like a door for maintenance access and freestanding screens can be moved aside as needed.
One of my favorite ways to hide pipes is to install a faux artificial wall. This adds to the bathroom aesthetics in a clever way, also giving you easy access to the pipes.
To create a screen, choose your panel (such as a wood panel, metal screen, fabric screen, or lattice panel) and hold it up to the wall. Mark where the mounting brackets will go, using a level to ensure it’s straight.
Based on your marks, drill small holes for the screws. If you’re drilling into drywall without hitting studs, you’ll need wall anchors. Finally, screw the panel into place, ensuring it’s secure.
You can decorate or personalize the wood panels by painting or staining them to match your room’s decor. Add decorative elements such as wall decals, hanging plants, or ornamental items to further enhance the appearance.
6. Use Furniture Strategically
Placing bookshelves, cabinets, or other furniture pieces strategically can be an effective way to obscure unsightly pipes.
Depending on where your pipes are, you can use small items like spice racks to hide pipes in the kitchen or a shelf with plants on to hide boiler pipes in a laundry room.
Your furniture might not sit flush with the wall if you are trying to hide pipes, so it might need a little adjusting. Measure the distance between the pipes and the diameter of the pipes, sketching a rough plan of the bookshelf indicating where the pipes will intersect with it.
Freestanding bookshelves will require custom cutouts or modifications to fit around the pipes. Make sure you measure where you need to cut out several times to leave no room for error. A jigsaw can easily cut a small hole in your furniture so it can fit around the pipes.
7. Hang Fabric or Curtains
Hanging fabric or curtains is a flexible and cost-effective way to hide boiler pipes. The soft drape of fabric can add warmth to a room and allow easy access to the pipes if needed.
Choose the Right Fabric:
- Material: Select a fabric that complements your room décor. Consider lightweight materials like cotton, linen, or polyester blends.
- Heat Resistance: If the pipes get hot, ensure the fabric is heat-resistant or hung at a safe distance from the heat source.
- Opacity: Depending on how much you want to hide, you can choose from sheer to opaque fabrics.
Measure the Space:
- Determine the width and height required to cover the pipes. Always add a few extra inches to both dimensions to ensure complete coverage and for hemming or finishing edges, if necessary.
Decide on the Hanging Method:
- Tension Rod: Suitable for smaller spans, such as between two cabinets or walls.
- Wall-mounted Curtain Rod: Provides a more permanent solution and can handle heavier fabrics.
- Ceiling-mounted Curtain Tracks: Useful for wider spans or when you want the fabric to be flush against the ceiling.
- Adhesive Hooks & Wire: A non-drilling option where you can hang lightweight fabric using wire and hooks.
The beauty of curtains is that they can be hung anywhere; under a cabinet, in a corner of a room. They can be continued from a window to hide pipes around the window frame or they can be used in conjunction with shelving.
They give you easy access to the boiler pipes and can add pattern and color to a room.
8. Make Them a Feature
Turning boiler pipes into a feature instead of trying to hide them is a great way to embrace the industrial look and make a unique design statement in your space.
Here’s how you can transform these pipes into a captivating feature:
- Industrial Chic: Embrace the industrial look by painting pipes in matte black or grey. The stark contrast against lighter walls can make them stand out.
- Exposed Hardware: Use bold and visible brackets or hardware for added industrial authenticity.
- Metallic Finish: When having your boiler pipes fitted, opt for copper or brass pipes to begin with as these are easier to make a feature of! If you already have the pipes installed, paint the pipes in a metallic shade like copper, brass, or chrome. This not only modernizes the look but also makes the pipes a focal point.
9. Use Casing to Hide Them
One of the easiest ways to hide boiler pipes, especially if they are in prominent places like the kitchen or bathroom, is to install a boiler box cover kit. This is not the prettiest of solutions, but no DIY is required.
You can make them fit more seamlessly into your decor by painting them the same color as the wall using uPVC paint, hiding them with plant or spice racks, or covering them with wallpaper (such as faux brick wallpaper to integrate it as above!).
When considering a boiler pipe cover solution, remember to think about the decor of the space around it and always prioritize safety. What works wonderfully in one room might not suit another, so make sure you tailor each solution appropriately to each room.
It’s okay to experiment and try different options. Perhaps start with a temporary solution to see if it fits your style and needs. Over time, you might discover a preference you hadn’t initially considered.
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