Tuesday 07 October 2008
Alan Holtham shows you how to use bendy MDF to cover in a boiler
Although they are getting smaller and neater, central heating boilers could never be described as elegant, and then all the associated electrical and pipe work makes them look even worse. I was recently asked to box in a particularly unattractive one which was mounted at floor level, leaving the top fully exposed. The brief was to produce a design to cover up the boiler, but at the same time minimize the amount of space taken up in the already cramped room.
Easy accessFrom a plumber's point of view it is important that the boiler can be serviced easily, and a close fitting cupboard makes this job a nightmare. The recommendation is to leave at least 6" clearance all round the boiler, but the room was just not big enough for a cupboard of this size, so I settled on a much tighter design that was freestanding and could be easily removed. I did incorporate a small door so that the controls and filling loop could be accessed without moving the whole cupboard.
Bendy MDFThe answer came in the form of bendy MDF, which is available in 6 mm thick sheets. One face is cut with a series of regularly spaced fine grooves, resulting in a very flexible panel. This can be bent to quite a tight radius and seemed ideal for this purpose, although I must confess that I had never used it before, so the whole job was going to be a literal learning curve!
These bendy MDF panels are relatively cheap and easily available in 610mm widths from most of the big DIY stores. It is produced in much bigger sheets, but I was not able to source one in time, so had to use smaller sheets. In retrospect the job would have been much better if I could have formed the whole shape in one larger piece.