What material is used for boxing pipes

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Boxing pipes is a convenient way to tidy up unsightly pipework. It covers the pipes with a neat, finished box, that blends in with its surroundings.

In many cases, if pipe boxing is done well, you won’t even notice it is there, unless you are specifically looking for it.

A few examples where pipe boxing may be used, include:

  • Radiator pipes
  • Pipes below a boiler
  • Vertical pipes running up the corner of a wall
  • Waste pipes behind a toilet.

How the pipe boxing is made, will depend on its location. But the general purpose is always the same. You want to cover up ugly first fix pipework, and cover it with nice, neat, second fix joinery work.

The materials for pipe boxing, will usually consist of thin lengths of timber, ranging from 2x1inch – 2x2inch. This will depend on the depth of the box required to cover the pipes. 

For the face of the boxing, you will commonly use MDF for a neat ready to paint finish. Or plywood can also be used. The finish for ply isn’t as good, so you will often use this, if you intend to cover the boxing with something else. For example, tiles.

In some cases, you may decide to plasterboard pipe boxing. This can be good in some instances, as it gives a very nice overall finish. However, it will make accessing the pipes more difficult. With that said, it’s no more difficult than accessing pipework in a stud wall.

Another method for pipes running at floor level, is box skirting. Here you use a combination of timber and skirting board. This can be very discreet, and your boxing will blend in with the rest of the skirting boards.

Below we will go into a little more detail on each type of boxing.

Pipe boxing materials for radiator pipes

In many cases, pipes running to radiators will be well hidden. They will often run under floorboards and inside stud walls. This means you only have a small amount of pipework either side, that circulates water in and out of the radiator.

However, there are certain cases, where you need to run pipes on the outside. A good example of this, would be a property with a solid ground floor, and a radiator that is also fitted on a solid wall.

In this example, you can’t run pipes under the floor or inside the wall. So without resorting to chasing out the brickwork or solid floor, you will need to run pipes outside.

In this scenario, you may have pipe work running down the wall in the corner of the room. Running along the bottom of the wall at skirting board level.

To cover this you would need two different boxes creating.

Vertical pipe boxing

The first pipe box would run down the corner of the room. This would be from floor to ceiling and would usually consist of three small lengths of timber and two lengths of MDF.

Two of the timbers would run either side of the pipes, on each wall.

Next you would need two pieces of MDF (or plywood). One would be cut to the width of the pipework and one for the depth. You will also need to account for the third piece of timber. This will be used to fix the inside corner of your boxing.

Fix your MDF to the third piece of timber, which will create the inside corner of the box. To do this, you should use a combination of wood glue, and either pins or screws.

Once completed, your two pieces of MDF should be fixed at a right angle. The third length of timber should be running down the inside corner, holding everything together.

At this point, your boxing should sit perfectly on the wall batons, ready for fixing in place.

Box skirting

For your box skirting, the process will be similar to the previous method. The main differences are

  1. Your boxing material will be skirting board and not MDF
  2. The boxing is horizontal not vertical

Exactly how you do this, will depend on the placement of the pipes, and how far they come away from the wall. However, the process is very similar to the vertical pipe boxing. You would essentially use skirting for the front of the box and MDF for the top

In some cases you may be able to do this without an MDF top piece.

For example, if your pipes are nice and tight to the wall and you have plenty of room, you can often use 2×1 on edge to create the top.

Essentially, this would consist of a length of 2×1 on the floor, fixed back to the wall. Then a second 2×1 fixed to the top of the skirting board and the wall above the pipes.

Boxing in boiler pipes

If your boiler is tucked away in an airing cupboard, then this is less of an issue. However, if it’s in your kitchen for example. You probably want to cover your pipes.

The good news is this is really easy. In most cases, the boiler will be above the worktop, with the pipes running down the wall and behind the work surface.

To cover these pipes, you simply need to make a box, that will neatly slide over them. This should be the height from your worktop, to a few mm under the bottom of your boiler.

The pipe boxing will consist of two sides and a front, made from MDF (or plywood). As well as two lengths of timber at the same height.

Simply fix your 3 sides together, using the timber to create the internal corners. Once your box is made, you can slide it in place.

You will not want to fix this to the wall, as you should be able to access the pipes. Therefore, your boxing should slide in and out with ease.

To make sure you get a really nice finish, you can run a block plane down the corner edges. The goal here is to take the sharp corner off. Next take some sandpaper and rub all the corners and edges to get a really nice smooth finish.

Following this, you can paint it for a professional looking job.

Pipe boxing behind a toilet

In some cases, you will have pipes running either side of your toilet that want covering up. This can vary widely based on the toilet and the location of the pipes.

Just like the wall boxing and the skirting boxing, you want to add timbers to the floor and wall to fit the boxing too. However, similar to the boiler pipe boxing, your toilet boxing will remain loose. Again, this will mean it is easy to remove and access the pipes at any time.

Conclusion

The main materials used for boxing pipes, are MDF and thin lengths of timber. In most cases the process is quite simple, and the result is a much tidier finish compared with bare pipework.

Personally, I do prefer MDF in most cases. This is mainly because it is very easy to plane and sand, meaning you can get a really nice smooth finish.

The boxing can be fixed with either pins or screws and glue.

If you are lucky enough to have a second fix nail gun, this could be a massive time saver.