It can be hard to figure out how to hide a water heater, but there are actually several ways to make your tank disappear.
The Three Keys of Water Heater Storage
There are three important factors to consider when choosing a hiding method: aesthetics, cost, and durability.
The more popular a room is, the more important it can be to make the water heater blend in. Try to picture how the finished project will look, and always try to find materials that won’t make the tank’s location stick out like a sore thumb.
This can be the most important factor for many people. Cost can be very cheap (curtains) to somewhat expensive (cabinets). This factor should always be considered last, as it’s the only short-term consideration.
Much like aesthetics, this factor is more important the more popular a room is. An unfinished basement or storage-only garage can get away with a flimsy curtain, but a finished basement or kitchen will need something that can handle some punishment.
Water Heater Covers
There are a lot of great water heater cover ideas out there, but most fit into two categories: curtains and screens. These will hide the water heater without requiring major renovation work, and are great in laundry room and partially finished basement or garage settings.
Perhaps the simplest way to hide your furnace and water heater is to add a sliding curtain as a divider. You will need to measure the wall height to determine proper curtain length, as well as the needed width. Be sure to give a few inches of clearance so the curtain doesn’t touch your heater. Rails are then installed along the ceiling for the curtain to hang from.
Curtains aren’t the most attractive covers for busy rooms, but work great in the garage or a partially finished or unfinished basement. They’re also a very cheap option that allows you to swap out patterns when you get bored with the current curtain’s appearance.
When you want a decorative water heater cover, screens are the default go-to. These dividers can be tall standing shutters or traditional divider screens. The freestanding nature of screens make them easy to move. The structures can easily be painted, papered, or left in their original appearance.
Water Heater Enclosures
When you want to hide your water heater in a finished basement, kitchen, or busy laundry room, it’s often best to create a full enclosure. Closets and cabinets make an excellent way to cover up the heater in a more permanent and aesthetic manner.
Cabinets make for a great enclosure, especially in the kitchen or a finished basement. These tend to be all-metal and have a slightly more industrial feel, although wooden cabinets are also available. Some cabinets are recessed, while others are freestanding structures. Purchasing a cabinet for hot water heater storage isn’t the cheapest option, but it will last a long time.
One of the most popular ways to hide that water heater is in a closet. Some apartments store the furnace (see also ‘How Does A Furnace Work?‘) and water heater in bedroom closets. The closet door will match any other closet so guests will be none the wiser.
The advantage to using a closet setup is that you can easily build one around the heater or add closet doors to an existing enclosure. It works in just about any room of the home, even the kitchen, without drawing attention.
Comparing Closet Hiding Methods
As you can see, curtains are an unpopular choice, albeit the cheapest. The reason for this is a matter of aesthetics, with the curtain also having less rigidity than a screen. However, they remain the best choice for less-visited areas, such as unfinished basements.
Meanwhile, cabinets have the highest durability but are too expensive to consider for rooms where aesthetics and durability are not as important.
Whichever method you choose, be sure to install a properly sized drain pan if you already haven’t done so. Because your water heater will be out of sight, you will have a greater chance of not noticing if a water heater leak develops.