How to box in pipes in a bathroom
Bare pipework can not only look unsightly, but the pipes can collect all sorts of dust and dirt that can start to make your bathroom look tired.
There are numerous reasons why your bathroom’s pipework might be on show. Your bathroom may have concrete floors that are hard to build under or it may have been difficult for the builders to work around the number of joists under a wooden floor. Generally, waste pipes can run in between joists, but not through them as this could weaken the structure.
In many cases, a fixture, such as a bath or shower, may be positioned on an internal wall. For the water to drain correctly, the pipes would need to run around the perimeter of the room to an external wall, which can then lead to the drainage pipes outside. If you’re ever planning a bathroom renovation, it might be a good idea to position both your bath and shower on an external wall where possible, as you won’t need to run as much waste piping.
There are other forms of pipework that may be on show in your home, such as those coming from your gas boiler.
Boxing in these pipes might be an ideal solution, so we’ve delved into exactly how you can do this. The method we’ve described below can be used on any pipes in any room of your home. If your boiler is in a kitchen cupboard, it’s likely that you’ll want to hide the pipes as much as possible to make it look like your boiler isn’t there at all.
How to box in pipes
Before you start to box in your pipes, you should check that there are no leaks. It’s much easier to fix a leak now when the pipes are on show compared to when they’re boxed in. You can check for leaks by running your hand along the pipes and seeing if there’s any obvious moisture. You should also check the flooring around the pipes for water or puddles.
You may require the following tools in order to box in your pipes, so be sure to have them to hand.
- Protection such as gloves and glasses
- Plywood/MDF (moisture-resistant)
- Battens measured to your required size
- Rawl plugs and screws
- Set square, drill and measuring tape
You will also need materials required to decorate your finished work.
Once you have confirmed there are no leaks, you can begin to build a box. It’s best to use a material such as plywood or moisture-resistant MDF. These materials will help to prevent mould developing from moisture that can build up behind the box. If you choose to use standard MDF, you could paint it with a damp-proof paint to ensure this doesn’t happen.
Using a set square, measure the distance between the back of the pipe and the wall. If you’re boxing in multiple pipes, measure each pipe individually as they may not be the same distance away. Take the largest measurement and make a note of it for later.
Next, you need to decide on how long your box will be. It should run the whole way along the pipework in one continuous section. For example, if the pipe goes from the floor to the ceiling, you need to measure this distance. If you’re looking to box in the pipes underneath your boiler, you should measure from the bottom of the boiler cupboard to the top of the work surface. Use the measurement that you noted down earlier as well as the one you’ve just taken and purchase two battens that are the correct size. If you’re boxing in pipes on a corner, you may require three battens. Use a wood saw to cut them down to size, but be sure to wear protection such as gloves and glasses.
These battens can then be attached to the wall. Drill a few holes in each batten. Then place your batten on the wall where you want it, and re-drill these holes, going through to the wall behind. Put some rawl plugs into the holes in the wall and drill some screws through the batten until you’re happy that it’s secure.
Now that your battens are in place, it’s time to install your plywood board over the top. Measure the distance between the two battens that you’ve just installed and cut the board to size. To secure it, drill some screws through the plywood and into the battens. To make sure these screw holes can’t be seen, you could use a small amount of filler and some sandpaper to make the surface completely smooth and ready for decorating.
The picture above shows a bathroom stud wall that’s been built as a divide, however a similar design principle applies to your box. You can see how the battens go around the edge of the divide and a thin piece of plywood has been applied to one side.
Bear in mind that for more complicated shapes or corners, you’ll require more battens.
Once your pipes have been boxed in successfully, you can decorate them to ensure that they blend in as much as possible. A pipe box can be decorated with paint, wallpaper and even tiles to ensure that the finish looks lovely and that the box is barely noticeable.
Adding a rug to your bathroom is one of the cheapest ways to make it a cosy and pleasant room to be in. According to the National Energy Foundation, around 10 per cent of the heat in your home is lost through your floors if they’re not insulated. For those that have wooden flooring, heat loss may be noticeable and you may even be able to feel a draught.
Tiles are the obvious choice of flooring in a bathroom because of their water resistance, but they’re naturally cold and might not be helping to keep the heat in your bathroom. By adding a rug, you could help to keep in some of the heat that’s been generated by the radiator and you’d no longer need to fear stepping on the tiles with no socks on.