As we move ever deeper into the benthic pools of winter, we see the nights grow darker and the mercury shrink further down the thermometer. Less poetically, I suppose we could sum up January thus: it’s freezing! Yep, we huddle down in our homes, swaddled in big jumpers, with our hero the central heating system keeping the frosty wolf from the door. Yes, without our radiators winter would be a particular horror, and it’s even more important in our house as our menagerie of pets circle the fire and hog the heat!
I have written many an article on the functional aspects of heating and radiators, including the now rather heated (no pun intended – honest) discussion on thermostatic and standard radiator valves. I am forever being asked too about how to go about buying radiators, and I do have a couple of tips before we get on to discussing tall and horizontal radiators.
First of all, be sure to do you BTU calculations. Without these, you will have either end up wasting energy or underheating the room in question. BTU stands for ‘British Thermal Unit’ and online calculators are the best way to ensure you get exactly the power you need for the allotted space.
My other piece of standard advice when it comes to looking for radiators is to take great pains over researching the material it is made from. Of course, you’re not going to find many marzipan or paper radiators, but I mean the specific metal (or metals). For me, a radiator should be tough, strong and turn a hard face to corrosive elements, and low carbon steel ticks all these boxes fully. That’s not to say iron or other alloys cannot offer those qualities, it’s just in my experience low carbon steel, of a high grade, gets the job done.
Anyway, to put my lecturing aside for just a moment, here are the two ways you can look at a radiator and how to fit them into certain decorative themes.
A vertical radiator is a truly modern touch to any room, its unorthodox fitting making it immediately eye-catching. Instead of the traditional look of running along the bottom of a wall, parallel to the skirting boards, a vertical column radiator reaches up to the ceiling. A modern look will also often incorporate elements of minimalism, and these radiators can help with that, especially when teamed with flat panels. Slimline and tight to your wall, these designs present an unobtrusive silhouette that is very attractive.
Viewed and – by some – maligned as the standard, drab choice, the horizontal radiator is in actuality a versatile heating solution. Granted, when done in quiet, boring finishes a horizontal radiator could well be seen as a dull choice, but when teamed with exciting new designs this time of radiator can still look brilliantly contemporary. The easiest way to alter this perception is to utilise different shapes of tubes and varying finishes to give it a standout look. For example, round, curved tubes set it apart from the usual, stark lines, while you can utilise a high gloss black or shimmering chrome finish to really grab attention.