Boxing and Pipework

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

Every home has a multitude of pipes in it; without them there could be no hot or cold water system, no sewage disposal and no gas supply, but the fact remains that pipework look unsightly if exposed to view. Older houses suffer in this respect far more than modern ones.

Builders used to leave ugly pipes on display all over the place, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. In many older homes, the supply pipes that take water to the bath, basins, sinks and WCs are there for all to see, and there’ll often be waste and soil pipes fully exposed en route from upstairs rooms to the drains.

The demands of modern plumbing in a home can make this problem still more aggravating. It’s amazing, for example, just how much pipework is needed to give even a small home central heating. Just a single pipe running through a room can ruin its appearance.

However, it’s possible to take full advantage of modern plumbing equipment without having an array of ugly, different-sized pipes on view throughout your home, providing you put a little forethought into what you are doing.

Installing and concealing new pipes If you’re installing new pipe runs, you’ll probably find that horizontal ones don’t pose as many problems as vertical ones. Provided you don’t have a solid floor, pipes can usually be run under the floorboards. If, on the other hand. you’re laying a new concrete floor, you could make channels in it to accept the new pipes. You will need to embed some timber battens or, better still, some scaffolding poles in the new floor until it is almost dry.

When they are removed, the pipes can be laid in the channels they have formed. The pipes should then be covered with mortar, ready for the final floorcovering to be laid. It is important in laying such channels to ensure the continuity of the damp-proof membrane in the floor.

Vertical pipes can be more of a headache, and you should aim to conceal these in an understairs cupboard, if you can, or to run them up through the hall. Whatever you do, you’ll want to keep the pipes out of the living room if at all possible.

However, if this proves difficult, a good position for them is at the side of the window: they won’t be immediately visible and you can easily hide them behind ceiling-to-floor curtains extending beyond the sides of the window opening.

The pipes are likely to protrude from the wall by as much as 25mm (1 in) or so, which means the curtains will have to be carefully put up to allow them to operate in front of the pipes. The best solution is to fix a horizontal batten of say, 50x25mm (2×1 in) timber to the wall at ceiling height above the window and each side of the pipes and then screw the track to that. That way the curtains will clear the pipes and hide them from view. Alternatively, you could use a curtain pole, which projects that much further from the wall than the track.

Curtains can conveniently be used elsewhere to conceal pipes. If you’ve had to run vertical pipes through the hall, it’s probably best to keep them to one side of the front door where they are not obvious. Ceiling-tofloor curtains could be used to cover the pipes, as well as to provide extra draught- proofing, comfort and privacy — especially if you have a completely glazed front door.

Another place to site the vertical pipes in the living room is in a group down the side of the chimney breast furthest away from the door. This is one of the last places in the room likely to be noticed by anyone entering it.

Once the pipes reach the first floor concealing them is not so critical, as they may pass within fitted wardrobes; in any case not so many people will be seeing them. You may also be able to keep many of them out of view by running them through the airing cupboard. Even so, a lot of pipes are going to be on view in parts of your home where they’ll look ugly and out of place, and boxing them in is one of the best ways of concealing them.

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