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Custom wood covers for copper fin baseboard

woobagooba Member Posts: 93
edited March 27 in THE MAIN WALL
Folks I've a two story 1910 reno underway. Nearly a full interior gut. First floor Weil McClean cast baseboard will be restored. Second floor more of a challenge due to new layout, combo of cast baseboard and radiators, new living space, etc. If money were no object we'd cast baseboard the entire second floor. But at $60-ish per foot, its a big number.

I came across a JLC article discussing wood enclosures for copper fin. I think this can be done for at most 1/2 the cast expense. And there is a local fabricator. It can be made to resemble the WM cast.

Question. Are wood enclosures for copper fin viable? Performance penalty versus typical metal covers? Convection is the main heat mechanism here, yes?

JLC article here ...

Sample cover style ...

Thank you


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 14,753
    As long as you can get air flow across the fins. Needs to be an opening below and above the fin for convection currents to move.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 6,359
    Of course, no one knows what the btu output will be. And yes, there will be very little radiant output.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • Matt_67
    Matt_67 Member Posts: 195
    Also the back of the top will need to be sealed well to avoid dirt streaks on the wall above.
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 2,091
    edited March 27
    I read somewhere that about 15% of the output of a Copper tube/Aluminum fin baseboard is radiant, 85% is the convection current. You may be able to design an enclosure that increases the convection current by making the enclosure a little taller and streamlining the interior surfaces to remove hard corners. But I don't see that happening. So I would size the system with at least 20% more elements. Even more, if you want to use lower temperature water.

    I'm a fan if you have the $ to do it. You can make something much more decorative to blend in with the room's decor

    Edward Young
    Retired HVAC Contractor from So. Jersey Shore.
    Cleaned & services first oil heating system at age 16
  • mattmia2
    mattmia2 Member Posts: 2,869
    Have you considered finding some good salvaged cast iron radiators and setting them up as hot water? The heat would be more comfortable than you would ever get from baseboard fintube.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,286
    A building contractor that I work with does it all the time without any draw backs. It gets rid of all the unsightly discolored shrouds (front plate and louver) and gives a nice look.
  • Brewbeer
    Brewbeer Member Posts: 615
    Potential problem is the fin tube will want to run at a higher temp for similar output as the cast. You can adjust for that by running longer fin tube, but that cuts into the cost savings,
    Hydronics inspired homeowner with self-designed high efficiency low temperature baseboard system and professionally installed mod-con boiler with indirect DHW. My system design thread:
    System Photo:
  • woobagooba
    woobagooba Member Posts: 93
    Thanks all
    @mattmai ... used cast baseboard + refinishing will come in at nearly the same as new fin tube + new custom covers. Plus we have an issue that we must feed and return / loopback at the same end of one of the longer sections.
    @Brewbeer ... yes thanks. We will need to go a bit longer on the fin tube.
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