Inject some style into staying warm
New radiators can be a great way to improve the efficiency of your home’s heating and update the look of a room. You needn’t be limited by the size and style of radiator that you’re replacing – there are many options available that can help to make better use of space, turn a radiator into a design feature and generate the right amount of heat for your room.
Modern radiators are easy to install and maintain, and with a huge range of styles available you can be sure to find a look that suits your home – whether you’re looking for something traditional, contemporary or something in between. There are also exciting features that can help your central heating blend into the background, or allow you to use your radiators as other decorative features, such as mirrors and magnetic memo boards.
Before you begin
Plumbed or electric?
Your house will have a plumbed hot water central heating system or use electric radiators to heat the space. If you’re looking to replace or add more radiators you’ll probably want to use the system you already have - although there are instances where you might want to switch. For example, an electric radiator can be easier to install in a location where your plumbed central heating doesn’t presently run, so can be a good solution for loft conversions, extensions and conservatories.
Plumbed radiators - Plumbed hot water systems use a boiler to heat hot water that is then circulated around your home through a system of pipes. Radiators are used as part of the system as an efficient way for the warmth to be radiated into your rooms.
Electric radiators - Electric radiators are not controlled centrally, instead they’re controlled in each individual room. Modern styles are slimline, easy to install and only require a mains electricity supply in your home. Some models are ‘plug and go’ and can be plugged into a conventional plug socket, others will require an electrician to install. They usually have a flat or panelled profile, and are available in white, black and mirror finishes to suit your home.
How much heat will it give out?
In the UK, the amount of heat a radiator gives out is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs) per hour. A BTU calculator can be used to work out the number of BTUs that will be required to heat your room sufficiently. All radiators are assigned a BTU rating, telling you how many BTUs they produce. You can either choose to use one radiator that delivers the total amount needed to warm your room, or use multiple radiators that deliver the required BTU when added together.
Our BTU calculator will help you to work out the BTU rating needed to heat your room. It takes into account the size and shape of the room as well as the number of windows and doors to help you identify the right radiators for you.
If you’re struggling the match the exact BTU rating you need with a radiator, choose one with a slightly higher output to make sure your room is warm enough.
Where will it hang?
Spend some time taking a look at where you would like to hang your radiator. The wall will give you some clues as to the best size and style of radiator for your room.
Masonry, brickwork or blockwork wall? - If the wall is constructed from solid masonry, brickwork or blockwork you will have the greatest choice of radiators. With the right fixings, larger radiators can be hung from strong solid walls. There will be fewer limitations on the size and style of radiator too, as you’ll be able to hang from any part of the wall.
Studwork wall? - If the wall is constructed from plasterboard with hollow space behind (a drywall or studwork wall), you’ll need to identify where the studs run. These are the vertical and horizontal pieces of timber that the plasterboard is attached to, and run inside your walls. A stud finder is a helpful tool that will find these with ease. The studs are the strongest part of your wall, and your radiator will need to be hung from these. Depending on their location, there may be some limitations on the shape or size of radiator you can use in the space.
You’ll also want to make a quick check of the visible condition of the wall. If there are any cracks or crumbling plaster it’s worth considering making repairs before you fit your new radiator. The same applies if you’re redecorating a room – paint or paper the wall behind your radiator before hanging to save time and effort later on.
The existing plumbing in your home will also need to be considered. Take a look at where the pipework runs – does it run along the wall or up from the floor?
If it runs along the wall - You’ll have plenty of options if you choose to change the size or style of the radiator. A new radiator that’s the same width or wider than the existing can easily be fitted with any excess pipework cut away. Choosing a narrower model may require the pipework to be extended, if you’re unsure about this consider asking a qualified plumber. It may also leave pipework exposed.
If it runs up from the floor - Pipework that rises up from the floor can present a few challenges – if you’re opting for a similar size replacement it shouldn’t be a problem, but if you’d like to change the size or style you may need to lift the floorboards in order to move the pipes.
Take a few minutes to measure up the size of the wall or area where you’d like to hang the radiator, the distance between the existing pipes (in and out) and the distance between the studs if you have a studwork wall.
Will I need radiator valves?
You’ll need a pair of valves for every plumbed radiator in your home, as these are used to control the heat output. These need to be bought separately to the radiator. There are a wide range to choose from – so you can find something to suit the style of your home and radiator, and allow you to opt for helpful extras such as frost protection settings.
Steel panel radiators
Steel panel radiators have the highest heat output and greatest heating efficiency of all plumbed radiator styles, making them a popular choice in many homes. They use corrugated panels (convectors) to radiate heat into the room. The ‘wavy’ surface of the convector means that it’s able to output more heat than a flat panel covering the same surface area. They’re easy to install and can be used with a range of different radiator valves so you can choose those which best suit your needs.
There are a huge range of sizes available, making steel panel radiators a great choice when you’re looking to replace an existing model without making any adjustments to plumbing - you’ll almost certainly find the size you’re looking for. If your room is an unusual shape or size, you should also find it easy to find a model that fits.
Steel panel radiators are only available in white, but whilst they might compromise on style they are great value for money and are an ideal budget option.
Choose from the following to find the model that best suits your room;
Single panel radiators
These are ideal where space is at a premium as they are slimmer than other models. Single panel radiators combine a single panel with a single convector, and are suitable for smaller rooms that will need less heat output.
Double radiators combine two panels with two convectors to produce a much greater heat output. Whilst they’re deeper than an single panel radiator and will stand out further from the wall, they will produce considerably more heat than single panel of the same surface area.
The perfect compromise between single and double radiators, providing nearly as much heat as a double radiator. Double+ radiators heat your room using a combination of two panels but use a single convector giving a slimmer profile.
For the greatest heat output consider a triple radiator which uses a combination of three panels and three convectors. Great for larger spaces, they’re also ideal if you are extending a room and don’t want to install additional radiators or change existing pipework.
Radiator covers and cabinets
Steel panel radiators are an ideal option when you want to efficiently heat your room, but they may not always suit your décor style. If you aren’t keen on the appearance you can always opt for a radiator cabinet to safely and stylishly disguise your radiators. Radiator cabinets essentially box in your radiators, allowing you more freedom to decorate in keeping with your room or make a feature of the radiator.
Available in wood veneer finishes and pre-painted for a white or more colourful look, they’re a great way to change the appearance of your room without losing any heating efficiency from your radiator. A wide range of styles means it’s easy to find something that suits your home: From more intricate period designs to clean-lined shaker style models. Made from MDF they’re lightweight and easy to install, as well as easy to customise.
If you’re looking to add or to retain period charm in your home, consider a column radiator to give a traditional feel to your room. Similar in style to cast-iron radiators that originated in the Victorian era, these modern models keep the look but provide greater heat efficiency than their predecessors.
Column radiators are constructed from a framework of vertical pipes rising the full height of the radiator, linked at the top and bottom. They are commonly two, three or four columns deep – with the number of columns relative to the heat output of the radiator. The more columns, the more heat the radiator will produce. However, the greater the number of columns, the more space the radiator will require.
Available in a vast range of sizes, they’re a great option in larger and period homes. Whilst they’re only supplied in white, they can be customised with your choice of radiator valve, including traditional style models.
If you’d like to create a design feature in your home, consider using a feature bench above your column radiator. It makes an ideal landing spot in a hallway for keys and mail, or can be used as a bench besides a window for extra seating or to provide storage. If you’re opting for a bench, you’ll want to use floor-mounting brackets for additional support.
Lastly, it’s worth considering that column radiators can be a higher maintenance option. Due the spaces between the columns, they can trap dust so we’d recommend investing in a radiator brush to make a breeze of cleaning - keeping your radiator in tip-top condition.
Designer radiators can bring a range of benefits to your home – from space-saving technologies to dual purpose products that can act as mirrors, memo boards and more. They’re an ideal way to lend a modern, contemporary feel to a room and can create stylish, attractive features that you won’t want to disguise. The huge range of shapes, sizes and finishes available allow you to find a style that suits you and your home.
It’s possible to replace existing radiators in a hot water central heating system with many designer styles, but you can also opt for electric models. Infrared electrical radiators offer a high heat output relative to their size, and have slimmer profiles compared to more traditional plumbed models. Perfect for smaller spaces, they’re also ideal if you’re looking for a smaller model to provide a higher heat output.
If you’re opting for a plumbed designer radiator, take your time to consider any existing pipework before choosing your preferred style. Some radiators may require pipes to be in a different place to conventional models, and it’s worth deciding whether you would want a professional to complete the work. If you’re looking to create a feature, or add heating to a new area of your home, it may well be worth the investment in moving pipework to deliver the perfect look.
There are a huge range of shapes to choose from – here are some of the most common;
Vertical and horizontal
These look most similar to a conventional radiator, but tend to be longer – either taller and narrower or wider but slimmer. They’re are ideal when you are looking to use your existing plumbing and create a sleek, streamlined finish in your room.
These protrude in a semi-circular shape away from the wall and are a great way of making a feature of elements such as chimney breasts, supporting columns and exposed pipework in a room. The arched shape increases the surface area of the radiator, increasing its heat output relative to its size.
Also known as corner radiators, these are a good way to make use of dead space in a room. An ideal solution where a conventional radiator may not fit or could be difficult to install.
Besides the shape of the radiator, designer models are also available in different profiles, each with a different surface. Flat panels are slim, easy to keep clean and are available in the widest range of colours and finishes. Look out for those which are dual purpose: radiators with smooth surfaces can be used as memo boards – great in a kitchen – and those with mirrored finishes are perfect for bathrooms, hallways and smaller spaces where they can reflect light. Tubular radiators come in both circular tube designs and square tube designs. Some use pipe-in-pipe technology to offer high heating performance with low water usage, which means they warm up faster and use less energy. Lastly, triangular fin designs introduce greater surface area, increasing the heating efficiency.
If you’re looking to create extra storage or a place to display items in your home, opt for a model that can feature an integrated shelf.
With designer radiators you can also enjoy a choice of a colours and finishes which are not available for conventional steel panel radiators. Opt for neutrals such as grey or black to make a bold statement without overwhelming your room. Metallics such as chrome and stainless steel finishes can add a touch of contemporary style and for a splash of colour, Vertirad Vitro radiators are available in a range of vibrant designs to bring your home to life. If you prefer simple, Scandinavian styling Knockonwood radiators are available in stunning real wood veneer finishes.