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Built-Ins around baseboard radiator?

Posted by geokid (My Page) on
Thu, Feb 28, 08 at 11:59


I have a 1920 craftsman foursquare. The living room expands the entire width of the house and half of the depth. A baseboard radiator covers the entire south wall of the living room and 3/4 of the east wall. The south wall is ~12feet with a seven foot window in the center. The window is ~40 inches off the floor.

This wall is just screaming for built-ins. And with a fireplace, an open stairway, and three doorways in the room, it's practically the only good place to put shelving and an entertainment center.

But the baseboard radiator poses a problem. How do I work around that? I've thought of three ideas. Any comments?

1- Have custom shelving built that starts above the radiator and put grills along the floor to let the heat out below the shelves.
2- Buy bookcases, TV stand, etc and add legs to them.
3- Buy bookcases but put them together in such a way that the backer doesn't go all the way to the bottom and then leave the bottom shelf empty.

I should add that we will be moving in about two years, so not sure how much money we want to sink into this.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Built-Ins around baseboard radiator?

I bought four bookcases and mounted them on a 1x4 ledger screwed into the studs 16" from the floor. All the bookcases are fastened together with the end case fastened to the connecting wall and a piece cut from an extra bookcase on the near end to extend to the floor. We used extra shelves and left just enough room at the top for pictures of the grandkids. All the cases are also fastened at the top with L brackets into the studs.

Boiught 2 cases at $50 and 3 at $30 plus screws and 1x board about $200.

RE: Built-Ins around baseboard radiator?

Thanks, hendricus! That's pretty much a solution I was looking for. Do you have pictures just to help me visualize, and so I can better explain to my hubby what to do? :-)

BTW, where did you get your bookcases, if you don't mind me asking.

Thanks again!

RE: Built-Ins around baseboard radiator?

Forcing the air to circulate into and out of the baseboard unit will reduce its efficiency substantially and either make it difficult to heat the room or force the pump to run longer than it did before.

A bb unit needs to have a reasonably tall space above it to allow warm air to rise by convection and cooler air needs to reach the unit at the floor. A good design would be to install built-ins with an opening below them and an opening behind them. The addition of grilles further reduces the air flow and requires the spaces and grilles to be larger.

If you can't feel air flow above the built-ins, the bb unit is simply heating the built-ins and they will be poor radiators.

RE: Built-Ins around baseboard radiator?

Sauder bookcases available at big box stores, ones I bought a year ago for $25 on sale at Menards, regular price $29.95. Also available at Sauder's own retail store for $49.95, go figure.

No pictures yet, haven't tried to figure out how to post.

RE: Built-Ins around baseboard radiator?

That's OK, hendricus. I think I pretty much have the idea.

And thanks for the info, mightyanvil. That works better with what I think we're going to end up doing anyway. We're just going to buy some basic bookcases with the cardboard backing and cut the backing so it doesn't extend all the way to the bottom of the bookcase. We'll leave the bottom shelf open up to about 16inches. Air can then flow through and out the bottom shelf and up behind the bookcases and over the top.

We already have some bookcases in front of the radiators and I just checked and I can feel heat rising up behind them. All I need to do is cut that cardboard backing to let the heat out the bottom.

Thanks everyone!

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