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Thread: Can I make baseboard heat covers from wood?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Monroe, MI
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    Can I make baseboard heat covers from wood?

    My parents house is heated by a hot water system that uses Slant Fin baseboard radiators that were installed in the 60's. Especially in the bathrooms, the covers are looking pretty bad due to rust, multiple layers of paint, and general wear. I was thinking that I could make a replacement cover from wood (oak) to match the rest of the trim in the bathroom. I'd remove and discard the front and the moveable louver (they leave them open all the time anyway.) The replacement would have a slot at the bottom to draw in cool air and one or two at the top of the face to let it back out, similar to the metal covers.

    Safety-wise I know I am OK with this plan as all the copper plumbing is run through wood floors and attached to wood floor joists. I'm more concerned about affecting the heating of the room and the affects of the heat on the wood. People make radiator covers for the old fashioned cast iron radiators all the time, so I would think this would work too.

    Replacement really isn't an option. The housings were attached to the exterior plaster over brick walls with concrete nails before the plumbing was installed, so there isn't any easy access to remove them. Stripping would be a lot of work I really don't have time to do, so the other option is just another layer of paint.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    L.I., NY
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    Matt-

    I've done this a few times before. Leave at least 1 3/4" gap up from the floor and at least 1" to 1 1/2" space at the top to keep the warm air moving (and also enough access to clean any dust underneath).

    The max temp of these baseboards is around 180 deg, not hot enough to worry about combustion.
    Matt

  3. #3
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    You don't happen to have any pictures to give me some design ideas, do you?


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    L.I., NY
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    I'm out of town right now but I'll post some pics when I return. Check this out:

    http://www.missionwoodworking.com/ca...product_id=195
    Matt

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Pleasantville, NY
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    612
    I'm not an expert...

    But I can't see how it would effect the wood very much as most plumbing ( read 180 degree pipes) run right through wood studs any way. I have also never seen any warning from flooring manufactures about base boards. The finish might need to be closer to a spar for flexibility but other then that.

    You might loose a little heat because of lack of radiation, but base boards work on convection. Also if you make the covers removable the ability to vacuum ( wash if you want ) the slant fin will probably make up for and missing radiant heat.
    "He who saves one life, saves the world entire"

  6. #6

    I do them all the time

    Most are paint grade but I also do them in maple and cherry I use high solids varthane to finish the natural ones. All of my customers love them when Im done. Look to the lower left in the pictures and you can see the raw heating element all the way through to finish. Just leave a space on the bottom of at least one inch and a space on top. Jeremys right they work on convection and I havent heard any complaints for lack of heat
    http://woodworkers.us/forum/index.ph...y&g2_itemId=41
    Last edited by William OConnell; 02-11-2008 at 7:10 PM.

  7. #7
    I think most every one makes 'em from wood.
    I'd use MDF.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Rohrabacher View Post
    I think most every one makes 'em from wood.
    I'd use MDF.
    The problem with making them from MDF is that MDF plus moisture from mopping equals swollen baseboard covers. I have used plywood for the paint grade ones but poplar I think is a better choice

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
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    Monroe, MI
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    Thanks for the info guys. I made them from red oak to match the cabinetry and the fake wainscoating and trim they wanted. You can't see it in the photo, but there is an ogee edge on the top front. There is also some trickery to fit it in around the sink which was a little too close.

    I removed the front panel, louver, end trim, and corner trim from the metal covers but left the back panel because it would have been nearly impossible to get out and the supports for the heat exchangers are spot welded to them. I used some metal L brackets which are attached to the back side of the new face and then go back to the top of the old metal cover where I put a screw to hold the new face in place. The new top is separate and is attached to the wall with pocket screws underneath. Since there is wainscoating for the screws to go into, I just shot them in. If I was going into plaster or drywall, I would have pulled them back out and drilled for plastic anchors.
    Attached Images Attached Images


  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Have you had any issues with wood movement, either initially or seasonally, due to the drying effect from the heat and its absence in the summer?

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