This article shows how to hide unsightly (but necessary) waste pipes


Ideal scenario:
Ideally all bathroom pipework will be hidden under the floor or behind suite items unseen.

Worst case scenario:
Pipework that has to be run above floor level is left exposed which looks very ugly.

A good compromise:
Pipework that has to be run above floor level is ‘boxed in’ in an attractive manner, in keeping with the design of the rest of the bathroom.

This approach is the focus of this short article.

PS Why does pipework sometimes have to be run above floor level?

  • Concrete floors make it is difficult to run pipes under the floor, so they are often run above it – this applies to 15mm supply pipes and 32/40/110mm waste pipes.
  • If suite items are not positioned on external walls then often waste pipes will have to be run around the perimeter of the room (above floor level) before they pass through an external wall to the drainage pipes outside (as in this example and the photo above).

  • Sometimes waste pipes cannot be run underneath the floorboards to the outside due to the direction of the floor joists.

Generally speaking waste pipes can be run in between floor joists (as above) but not through them (mainly due to the affect that drilling large (40mm+) holes into floor joists has on their ability to support the floor. i.e. drilling lots of large holes in joists weakens them, and can lead to deflection (sagging of the joists) over time.

Case study

All pipes are connected and throughly tested before they are ‘entombed’ out of site.

Better to find and rectify a leak now rather than after all the boxing in has been done (which would then have to be removed & reinstated once the leak was found & fixed!)

18mm thick plywood or MDF is used to construct the boxed in sections which are essentially 2 pieces of wood screwed together into an ‘L’ shaped configuration, which is rigid enough to be self-supporting.

This can then be attached to the wall / floor by a variety of methods e.g. gluing or screwing.

The boxing in can then either be painted or tiled (or a mixture of the two as in this example.)

If you are intending to tile the boxing in then I would recommend using external WBP plywood to ensure a good bond between the tiles and the wood.

If painting, then I would recommend MDF as it gives a smoother finish. All screw holes will have to be filled and sanded prior to painting for a neat finish. Primer is applied, and once dry, the boxing in is painted to match with the walls.

All junctions where the boxing in meets the wall are sealed with flexible decorators caulk which limits the risk of cracks developing. This can be painted over later (unlike silicon.)

Top tip
Try and make the sections removable in the event of a leak.

In this example the front face of the boxing in is tiled to match the upstands of the rest of the room.

This is done using the same tiles that were used to tile the floor, following the existing grout lines wherever possible.

A chrome tile trim is used to hide the unsightly top edge of the tile and to protect it from chipping.

The tiles are then grouted, and the point at where the tiles meet the floor is sealed with sanitary silicon of an appropriate colour (jasmine in this example.)

Other options

Pre formed and pre-painted (laminated) boxing in sections are available to buy but they are quite expensive, though they offer a neat solution.

Often they are not thick enough to be self supporting and therefore require that a baton is fitted to the wall & floor.

Pre-formed sections, made from the same material as tile backer boards, are also available to box in pipework.

These come in a variety of sizes and thicknesses and are designed to be tiled over.

They are very lightweight and easy to cut to size with a stanley knife, making them easier to transport & machine ‘on site’ than plywood. They also produce very little waste (unlike wooden sheets which may produce lots of offcuts.)

Skirting can be used instead of tiled upstands and in this example the top of the boxing in is finished off by using a window board painted with gloss or eggshell paint to match the room.

Thats it!
Thanks for reading, feel free to contact me of you have any questions.


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