Box in a Basin

1 Construct a framework

Unsightly plumbing can be hidden and storage space provided under the basin by boxing in. Access to the storage and plumbing is provided by doors hung on the front. Calculate the amount of timber required to make a framework. Note how it is strengthened at the base by a cross member. This also provides the support for the floor. On either side of the basin, but below the lip, there are timber members to support the top surface, which will be flush with the basin edge.

2 Clad the framework

Using fibreboard of the required thickness, the top and side panels of the box are clad and attached to the wooden framework with galvanized nails. You may have to cut the fibreboard into sections to fit, or draw a template of the sink and then cut. Note the curve of the basin at the corners and shape the pieces accordingly so there are no gaps between sections. When you cut, plane or sand fibreboard, you must wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling the sawdust.

3 Add the floor

Measure and cut the fibreboard needed for the floor and fix it with nails to the timber frame. Then, measure and cut two panels to fit at the front. In this picture, one panel is a simple rectangle, while the other is shaped to fit around the boxed-in pipes along the wall. Cut the door panels. Prime and paint the front, doors and floor as desired. Paints specially formulated for bathrooms – where condensation can be a problem – are available in a wide range of colours.

4 Apply adhesive

To make the top of the box waterproof and more attractive, it can be tiled. You will need to include the thickness of the tiles in your calculations so they are flush with the basin lip. Apply a proprietary waterproof tile adhesive, and lay whole tiles first.

5 Cut tiles to fit

Use round edge (RE) tiles at the front edge of the top to make a neat edge. Where a tile needs to be cut to fit, make a template out of card and mark the line on the face of the tile. Curves can be nibbled out with nippers a little at a time, or cut with a fine-toothed hacksaw.

6 Clean up tiles

When all the tiles are laid, apply a waterproof grout into the joins until they are well filled. Wipe the grout from the surface of the tiles before it sets and smooth the joins – you can use a smooth piece of dowel for this. When dry, polish with a soft cloth.

Fibreboard doors are made more attractive when finished with paint and door furniture is added. The flush doors can be ‘faux’ panelled to match the main door. Ready-made stick-on panelling is available at DIY stores or you can mitre cut your own lengths of moulding (see the useful information section for advice on buying timber and blockboards, including lists of the standard sizes). If you use fibreboard, such as MDF, remember you must wear a face mask when you cut it to length, as breathing in the dust can be hazardous. MDF will require priming but once this is done, you can create a whole range of paint finishes, including ‘special finishes’ like faux marbling, graining and speckling.

Safety Advice

  • When you cut tiles with nippers, on a tile-cutting jig or with a hacksaw, wear protective goggles to protect your eyes from any flying shards of tile when they are snapped.
  • A face mask must be worn when cutting fibreboard.

Additional Tools

A tile-cutting jig is a worthwhile investment if you are undertaking a lot of tiling.This handy device measures, scores and cuts tiles accurately and reduces the chances of breakage. Consequently the cost of the jig is repaid in fewer wasted tiles. The cutting edge is drawn along the channel of an adjustable guide and then the tile is snapped with the special pincer tool.

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