If you do a neat job, a pipe boxing can fit in OK/not look out of place when covering exposed pipework in kitchens, bathrooms and utility rooms for sinks/toilets/boilers & waste pipes.
Below is one example of boxing in pipes horizontally I made to hide ugly boiler pipes, and also a birds eye view of how a vertical boxing is made - with three battens. One on each wall and one to fix and give the corner join strength. once painted it blends in and nobody would really look twice at it.
When you make a pipe boxing in a Bathroom, Kitchen or other potentially humid area a tight fit is essential as well as sealing sufficiently in order to prevent damp getting in and causing mould to grow behind the box. Generally avoid using MDF to box pipes in Bathrooms/Kitchens/Laundry room etc. unless you use moisture resistant MDF. Even then I would paint it with exterior grade paints just to be safe.
When I'm Boxing in Pipes that need to be accessible (sometimes the plumber has installed an isolator valve or shut off tap) I use screw cups like these to screw the Boxing together so that it is removeable and the pipes can easily be accessed later. You don't have to make the whole side removable but can use these fixings to create a tidy access panel.(Once it is painted simply use decorators caulk or silicone to seal round the outside for a neat finish. It just means you will need to run a knife around the edge when you want to remove it later).
These instructions are the same for any pipe boxing whether it is made of plasterboard, MDF or plywood. The framework for pipe boxings are generally made with two battens fixed vertically or horizontally to the walls that are then covered with the sheet material. A third batten is used to strengthen the corner where the two boards join and to provide a strong enough joint.
The tools required for pipe boxings will vary depending on the type of sheet material you need to cut and the wall the battens are being fixed to (masonry/plasterboard for eg.).
For setting out;
Tools for cutting sheet material will be a Circular, Plunge or Hand Saw for Plywood/MDF. Stanley Knife, old Hand Saw and a Rasp or Surform for cutting plasterboard.
For fixing the battens;
Step 1: Determine the size & setting out.
The first thing to do is work out how big the boxing needs to be. Using a Combination Square like in the picture below, find out how far from the wall the pipes protrude. Place the square against one wall and measure from the other wall to the square/ruler. I use the square because otherwise it's easy to get the measurement wrong because the pipe is round and your head might be in the wrong place when you sight the tape through. Take the measurement at the widest point of the pipe too, usually the knuckle where the pipe joins the bend if there is one.
Get a measurement at the top and bottom as well in case the pipe is out of level (horizontal waste pipes will always have a fall). Repeat for both sides to get the minimum widths for the battens to be fixed. If you want the boxing to be square/have equal sides choose the largest dimension of all and fix that batten first. For the other batten use the same measurement but subtract the thickness of the ply/sheet material being used. Then, that shorter side will be the one that overlaps the other, making it the same size overall.
Step 2: Cut 3 Battens.Measure from the floor to ceiling to find the length the 3 battens will need to be and then cut them (if the walls are already Skirted two battens for the wall will need to be shorter than the third that goes all the way).
Step 3: Fix the battens to the wall.
Fix the battens vertically to the wall and at the distances calculated in step 1. 9 times out of 10 when making Pipe Casings I parallel them from the corner of the wall rather than use a spirit level to scribe them in plumb (perfectly level upright) because when the wall is out of plumb and the boxing is perfectly plumb, it will be a tapered shape and stand out to the eye.
It depends what else is close by though, if the Pipe Boxing is in a Kitchen and is next to cupboards that are level the boxing would look odd if it was out of plumb. It would also make it more difficult to tile. So, I make a judgement based on what will look right to the eye, it may mean choosing the lesser of two evils, or even splitting the difference and going somewhere in between. You'll need wall plugs and screws if fixing to masonry.
Step 4: Cut the Ply-Wood.
You will need to cut one rip of Ply the same width as the distance from the corner of the wall to the outside edge of one batten. Glue and pin it with a Nail-Gun to the batten and screw the third batten to the inside of it. The second rip is the width the other batten was fixed at plus the thickness of the Ply/other sheet material being used as it will need to overlap. Once cut, glue and pin in place.If the wall isn't completely flat you will need to scribe it to the shape of the wall for a tight fit.
Pipe boxing's can also be made with Skirting Boards. Common areas for these are Bathrooms, and when concealing radiator pipes. They are relatively easy to install and look much tidier than fixing the pipes to the face of the skirting, especially if the top is kept flush with the top edge of the Skirting Board. I usually use 9mm thick Ply Wood for the top. All you need to do is subtract the thickness of the ply from the overall height of the Skirting Board. This measurement is the height on the wall up from the floor that the top edge of the batten needs to be fixed to.
Cut the Ply the width it needs to be to cover the pipes, not forgetting to allow for batten to fit inside too like the picture below. You can use a combination square like in step 1 above to work out how wide.
Fix a batten along the floor the same width away from the wall (shown with red arrows). Take care when screwing to the floor in areas where there may be pipes underneath, use screws that are too short to go any further than the thickness of the flooring and a pipe detector if unsure.
Lastly, fix a batten with wood glue and pins/screws to the back of the skirting board. Not flush with the top but down the same thickness as the ply being used, before assembling it all together.Click here for more Skirting Board tips
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