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DIY Water Heater Covers: 5 Different Kinds

Tired of your ugly-looking water heater? Take a look at 5 DIY ways to transform an eyesore into a testimony of your creativity.

Water heaters are an essential part of our homes, providing hot water and warmth. Despite their importance, heaters are often made without aesthetics in mind and might not combine well with the rest of your decor.

In recent years, there has been a greater focus on how heaters look, especially the more compact models that might be installed in your kitchen. In general, however, their appearance hasn’t changed much since the first water heater was created in 1868.

If your indoor heater is an eyesore and you won’t be replacing it any time soon, your best option might be to cover it. In this article, we will take a closer look at how to cover a heater with five DIY water heater cover ideas.

Key Takeaways

  • Hide water heaters with curtains, room dividers, pallets, faux cabinets, or plantation shutters.
  • Ensure proper clearance and ventilation around the water heater for safety.
  • Choose a cover that matches your home’s style and the specific room it’s in.
  • Consider the cost, durability, and aesthetics of each cover option before making a decision.

Five Different DIY Water Heater Covers

After a lot of research, we narrowed down our options for how to hide your water heater with style. Here are our choices for the five easiest and most effective solutions.

1. Curtains

  • Best in: Unfinished basements or garages used for storage.
  • Worst in: Kitchens, finished basements, or bedrooms.

The cheapest and easiest way to conceal your water heater is by using curtains. They are easy to mount and available in countless patterns. If you get tired of the design, you can easily replace them with new ones.

All you need to do is buy and mount a curtain rod that fits the space. Choose a curtain fabric that blends in with the room if you want it to go unnoticed.

Traditional fabric curtains aren’t your only option. Feel free to experiment with different curtain styles (1).

Curtains are a cheap solution but they often stand out in a room. It’s best to use them in a part of the house that is not visited frequently, such as a laundry room, but keep them away from your furnace!

While curtains score low on aesthetics and durability, their affordability makes them a good temporary solution until you figure out what you really want.

2. Room Dividers

  • Best in: Unfinished basements or garages used for storage.
  • Worst in: Kitchens and bedrooms.

A room divider is a cheap and easy solution to hide your water heater. They come already made so all you need to do is choose the one you want and set it up. Most dividers are imported from Asia and the selection of screens to hide heaters seems endless.

There are a variety of materials to choose from including wood, fabric, and glass. There are also portable, fixed, foldable, or even hanging and roll-up ones.

Glass room dividers look classy, but they aren’t really practical for concealing a water heater.

Room dividers are relatively cheap but you might not want to showcase them. These sit in the middle when it comes to aesthetics and durability, and are only slightly more expensive than curtains.

3. Pallets

  • Best in: Basements and garages.
  • Worst in: Kitchens and bedrooms.

Pallets have become increasingly popular because they are very versatile. They can be used as tables, shelves, or organizers, but they can also be used to cover a water heater.

Pallets are made of wood, so you will need to use the boards to create your cover. Measure the space you need to conceal, then nail the boards together to create a partition. It will look a bit like a rustic room divider, but cheaper because pallets can be found as free waste material.

You can get creative and paint them, or hang plants or pictures on the outside.

It’s best not to use your pallet screen in the main parts of the house unless you can find a way to make it blend in with existing furniture. Pallets are in the middle of enclosure ideas when it comes to aesthetics and durability and are definitely cheap, if not free.

4. Faux Cabinet or Closet

  • Best in: Finished basements, bedrooms, kitchens, or a garage that is also a workspace.
  • Worst in: Unfinished basements or garages used only for storage.

Adding a faux cabinet or closet is a popular option because it looks great. If you have an existing structure, such as a closet, an extra door will look natural. No one will assume it is there to hide a water heater.

This solution does require skill if you want to make it yourself. If you like working with wood, give it a go. It is also a more permanent solution compared to curtains or room dividers.

Although it is more costly, it will last as long as your closet or cabinet. This means you can consider a closet door a long-term investment.

Faux cabinets or closets are attractive and upgrade the look of your house, so there’s no need to hide them away. They are perfect if you’re remodeling and want to make a one-time investment.

5. Plantation Shutters

  • Best in: Finished basements, bedrooms, kitchens, or a garage that is also a workspace.
  • Worst in: Unfinished basements or garages used only for storage.

Plantation shutters are similar to faux cabinets or closets and add a touch of elegance and value to your house. They are another durable and permanent solution.

They can be made of wood, PVC, foamed synthetics, or medium-density fiber.

You can also choose sliding shutters, depending on your preferences and the space you are working with. Custom-made ones are the most popular.

Plantation shutters are pleasant to look at, so it would be a waste to use them in a garage or an unfinished basement.

Like cabinets, plantation shutters look good but cost more. However, they should be worth it if you are remodeling and want to make a one-time investment.


Can a Water Heater Be Outside?

This depends on the specific model of the water heater, but they should not be installed outside unless stated by the manufacturer. Tank heaters are almost always intended for indoor installation, partly to ensure that the water in the tank doesn’t freeze when the heater is inactive. There are many tankless heaters that can be installed outside but make sure this is possible before buying.

Can You Put a Water Heater on Bricks?

You can place a water heater on bricks, either to raise it or because the existing floor is made of bricks. Just ensure that the surface is flat so the heater is upright and that it is strong enough to hold the weight of the heater. A solid brick floor should provide a strong base that outlasts even the most durable hot water heater.

Can a Water Heater Sit on Wood?

A water heater can be placed on wood but there are some important things to keep in mind. The wood needs to be secure and flat to ensure the water heater is upright. It also needs to be strong enough to hold the weight of the heater, which will become much heavier when full of water. The wood also needs to be durable enough that it won’t be weakened if water leaks onto it, so choose something very dense.

Is It Safe to Have a Water Heater Inside the House?

Yes, it is safe to have a water heater inside the house as long as you follow the proper guidelines when installing it (something that should be left in the hands of a professional).

When a home does not have either a basement or a garage, it is important to install the water heater somewhere inside the home’s main living area.

When doing so, it is frequently preferable to do it in a closet, where it will not be visible to others. However, you will need a permit to install, replace, or repair a water heater, and this is only permissible under specific conditions.

How Much Space Do You Need Around a Water Heater?

A water heater must have a clearance area that is at least 12 inches in all directions around it. A particular quantity of airflow is necessary to achieve correct combustion and ventilation.

The appropriate airflow for these operations must be given by the manufacturer’s specifications for the unit being installed, as stated by the building code.

How Much Ventilation Does a Water Heater Need?

As a rule of thumb, water heaters require 50 cubic feet of air for every 1,000 BTUs/hour that they produce. For instance, a water heater that requires 40,000 BTUs of input per hour must be placed in a space (often the garage) with a minimum of 2,000 cubic feet of air.

If the room is too small to give adequate air for combustion, you will need to install a ventilation system that can bring air from the outside or from another area of the house into the room.

Can You Put Stuff on Top of a Water Heater?

You can put stuff on top of the water heater as long as it’s not flammable, doesn’t block any holes or vents, and can’t be damaged by heat or moisture. It is important to avoid placing anything near the access to the burners because this could result in a risk of fire.

This is especially true of anything that can catch fire, such as additional heating oil or textiles like blankets or linen. Books and papers are examples of objects that should not be kept in a water heater closet since they are subject to being damaged by dampness.

Can You Paint a Water Heater?

Yes, you can paint over a water heater. Masking off the areas of the water heater that get hot should be done with caution.

To prevent the pilot light from setting the paint fumes ablaze while painting a gas water heater, it’s important to switch off the gas valve and disconnect the water heater before beginning the painting process.

Can You Enclose a Furnace and a Water Heater?

Yes, it is possible to enclose the furnace and the water heater. The process of enclosing won’t provide any difficulties. You will need to leave enough room to service and maintain the units.

Since a water heater’s connections are located on the front and top of the unit, it doesn’t need much more space than its footprint.

Nonetheless, leaving at least 6 inches of clearance all the way around it will undoubtedly make any future work easier. It will be the same with the furnace; you will need an aperture that is sufficiently large to remove the unit if it ever needs to be replaced.

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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.