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Building A Bookcase Around Radiators

Bookcases and Wall Trim with Radiator Obstructions

I have looked at many potential jobs in which people wishing to have built in bookcases or flat or raised panel wainscoting installed.  You do not have to settle  by building a bookcase around radiators.   any times the radiator can be moved or recessed in the floor.

Leaving The Radiator Alone

In some of these situations, the issue arises but are not happy with the end result of having their baseboard radiators mounted to is, what do we do with the existing baseboard heat?

The simplest solution and one I often see is to mount the baseboard heat back onto the bottom of the bookcase or wainscoting.

This application takes away from the aesthetic beauty and style of the woodwork.

Recessed Radiation

My solution is to recess your hot water baseboard heat into the floor. The only catch is that the floor joists must run parallel with your bookcase or wainscoting.

Recessing radiators is ideal in situations where you do not want to see the radiator in front of bookcases, woodwork, or below large areas of glass. It’s a classy and efficient way to heat areas that used to have baseboard heaters mounted to a wall.

[see photo below and click on photo to enlarge]

Photos concord carpenter

It works by channeling the cold air that falls off the windows, walls or sliding glass doors through the grille and past the baffle. The air is then heated, by a the same type of hydronic heating element as the old radiator, and circulated back into the room.


This unit was installed before the floor was installed. As a result I was able to make a frame with mitered corners for the grille.

The inside edge was relieved with a router to recess the grill and make it flush with the finished floor. The grilles were approx. 1/4″ thick. and come in a brass or black cast


This radiator was installed into an existing finished floor.

Cutting The Floor

I made a 1/4″ Luann wood template of the grille and my router and used the template to route out a groove in the existing floor to receive the heating grille. The grille is flush with the existing floor.

The inside of the heat box was spray painted black to make it blend better with the black grilles.

Each unit is designed to fit a space of 64″ x 8″. The rust-resistant steel cabinet is easy to install during new construction or in an existing hot water heating system.

Two 32″ x 8″ grilles are included that fit at floor level to complete the system.

This is the view from below. The unit fits between floor joists.

I purchased these heating units from The Reggio Register Company. They call the system a Recessed Radiation System. Figure approx. $ 450 -$500 per unit.

The “4000 BTU system” includes grille, steel cabinet and heating element consisting of 2 3/4″ x 21/4″ aluminum fins mechanically bonded to 1″ nominal copper tubing. The heating element of the “6000 BTU system” consists of 2 3/4″ x 5″ steel fins mechanically bonded to 1″ nominal copper tubing.

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