Boiler Cover archive

Tuesday 7 October 2008

Alan Holtham shows you how to use bendy MDF to cover in a boiler

Gallery

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 access

From 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 MDF

The 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.

The mould

To form the curved panels, make a mould with pieces of 12 mm MDF, cutting out three equal rectangles to match the size of the cupboard footprint; cut them carefully as they will be used subsequently as top and bottom boards in the actual cupboard.


Woodworkers Institute

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Alan Holtham , Boiler Cover , MDF

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"I settled on a much tighter design that was freestanding and could be easily removed"

Top Tips

On a safety note, it is important to check that the boiler you intend covering is in fact suitable, as many of the older types require free air circulation in order to operate safely and it is extremely dangerous to restrict this air flow by enclosing them in a cupboard. Most modern boilers are fitted with a double flue, which draws in all the air it needs and exhausts the fumes through the same pipe. These boilers are classed as 'room sealed' and can be safely boxed in. Get qualified advice if you have any doubts.