We currently have a single pipe steam heat system. We've had a couple of plumbers in to give us estimates on recessing our exposed radiators. Neither of them seemed thrilled with the idea and one suggested steam baseboard. Does anyone have experience recessing steam radiators or using steam baseboard?

  • 6
    Are we talking original radiators? If so, I'd suggest not replacing them if you plan on selling ever. A lot of people love them.
    – DA01
    Apr 28, 2011 at 13:20
  • That's definitely a big thing. My apt probably had radiators up until recently when the previous owner decided to replace them with butt-ugly baseboards connected with pvc pipes.
    – Vitaliy
    Apr 28, 2011 at 18:19
  • I'm no expert on steam systems, but a one pipe baseboard setup seems like trouble to me because of the very long condensate return path from the far end back into the single pipe. I would leave well enough alone unless the current look is just killing you. The more modern steam radiators are not that much of an improvement IMO.
    – bcworkz
    Mar 26, 2013 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


Don't change them. Single line steam radiators are tricky at the best of times, and most modern plumbers have little experience with them. In addition base board radiators make it impossible to put bookcases in. (In our climate they use up all of the external wall.)

There are lots of ways to dress them up

Recessing them is a bad idea, as the space to do that comes an the expense of external wall insulation. (Most radiators are on external walls) In addition, most radiators are thicker than the wall you would be recessing into

The british use flat plate radiators. I know they work with hot water. Not sure if they work with steam. Much less obvious, and easiet to clean and paint.

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