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Best Radiator Materials: Stainless Steel

Best Radiator Materials: Stainless Steel

More often than not, what tends to put homeowners off the idea of investing in stainless steel bathroom radiators is the price. Not that they are excessively expensive, but given the fact that chrome and other types of heated towel rails are usually cheaper, it seems to make sense to go with them. However, it’s important to acknowledge the fact that stainless steel products are more expensive for a reason and in terms of value for money have the potential to bring a lot more to the table.

Stainless Steel radiators are highly resistant to corrosion and rust

Once you have installed your chosen towel rail in your bathroom, it will come into contact with water from wet towels and hands as well as general moisture from the steam of your toasty hot shower. Stainless steel is a material that is designed to withstand these corrosive elements for years and years – just take a look in your cutlery drawer! Most central heating systems (where the water supply is separate from the supply to your taps and showers) require corrosion inhibitors to be added regularly to prevent the whole system (including your radiators and towel rails) from corroding. Which is why bathroom heated towel rails made from steel and other materials are corrosion and rust free in homes across the country. However, stainless steel offers you some extra protection – a corrosion resistant blanket, if you will.

Is a stainless steel towel radiator right for you?

There are a few instances where a stainless steel rail would be a better choice for your home because of its material benefits:

Poorly ventilated bathrooms or kitchens

If your room is lacking in windows and fans to remove moisture then we would recommend a stainless steel towel rail. Of course, you can still choose a towel rail made from another material, but it means you will need to put in some extra work to help maintain the rail by cleaning off sitting water/water droplets and consider other ways to help ventilate the room.

Open air central heating systems

If the water travelling through your heating system is also used as hot water in other areas of your home like your taps and showers, then you do not want to be adding corrosion inhibitors to this system. Which means you need to look for corrosion protection elsewhere... enter the stainless steel towel radiator. *Beware of chloride – some areas, like London, have higher levels of chloride in the water which can corrode even a stainless steel radiator, in this instance we would recommend a brass towel rail or radiator.*

Both of the above?

No brainer - stainless steel all day, every day. Investing in a stainless steel towel rail or radiator that comes with a generous guarantee length (usually 25 years) can actually save you some money in the long run as you wont need to repeatedly replace a corroding towel rail – think cost of a new rad and installation costs. Here at UK Radiators, we’re big fans of stainless steel and believe it’s worth the extra pennies. But we’re also big fans of trusty old steel – basically we just like all things hard and shiny.

Alternative Radiator Materials

While we recommend stainless steel for the above home set ups, towel rails and radiators made from other materials usually offer some things which stainless steel often doesn’t:

Efficiency and cost

Value for money, we all want it, we all deserve it and here at UK Radiators we try our best to provide it. In our The Ultimate Guide to Radiator Materials blog we’ve tested various aspects of Aluminium, Steel and Cast Iron as radiator materials based on their efficiency, heat output, cost (for both purchase and running), style and size options, environmental impact, durability and much more. Our overall winner is Aluminium. Like stainless steel, aluminium radiators and towel rails tend to have a higher price tag, but for good reason. In return for the extra pounds, you get the highest heat output compared to the same size radiator in other materials which makes them great for compact spaces as well as open plan rooms - you get the heat without the large overbearing radiator. While there aren't quite as many designer options as there are for steel rads, there are plenty of size and shape options to choose from to suit your rooms. For those of us who are keen to do our bit for the environment, aluminium is by far the best choice. Because of the higher heat output, the aluminium radiator you purchase doesn't need to be as big, meaning it requires less water to be heated. Smaller radiator/less water + higher heat output/heating on for less time = as environmentally friendly as a radiator can (currently) get. Aluminiums working this way also means they are better for your bank account, so although you may need to spend some extra cash when you purchase, in the long run, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint in your warm cosy home and be saving some money. Steel is a close second for us, right behind aluminium in a lot of aspects. While it may not be as efficient and environmentally friendly as Aluminium, that doesn't mean that a steel radiator or towel rail isnt those things. Steel offers the lowest price tag of them all as well as the most amount of style, shape and design options - everything from a trendy flat tube to a timeless classic like the column radiator. Steel is malleable which allows them to be efficient because they can be physically designed to better pass heat from the water inside to the space around them (this is a radiator's job after all, despite some thinking that its job is to “store” heat). The heat output is also good, the proof is in the pudding with this one - would steel be the most common radiator material if the heat output was rubbish? Steel is a highly durable material - steel wins over aluminium here - which is important as radiators are going to be the victims of some knocks and bangs over time and you want them to withstand that.

Radiator Aesthetics

From your classic white to copper, raw metal and even blue – steel and aluminium radiators can be painted or coated in a wide variety of colours and finishes, but they are also made in a range of styles from standard ladder towel rails to designer geometric honeycomb shapes. Giving you the opportunity to either match to your home's unique décor or create a feature piece for all your visitors to be jealous of. Steel is the most common radiator material, which means that there is an abundance of size options available to you, so you can find the perfect radiator or towel rail for those awkward small spaces, or the very large open plan ones.

Is stainless steel the best radiator material choice for you?

If your home or room falls into the poorly ventilated/Open air system situations mentioned above then we recommend a stainless steel radiator or towel rail to help you fight corrosion for years to come, with the long guarantee length providing extra peace of mind. If the rooms in your home are well ventilated and/or you have a closed central heating system (allowing you to regularly add corrosion inhibitors) then congratulations – your choices are endless when it comes to radiators and towel rails, and you can focus on heat output and style when searching. If the rooms in your home are well ventilated and/or you have a closed central heating system (allowing you to regularly add corrosion inhibitors) and your priority is style but you're on a bit of a budget, then steel radiators are your new best friend. Alternatively, if you want to future proof your home, reduce your carbon footprint and save some cash then aluminium is the material for you.   Still not sure which towel radiator is best for you? Take a look at our guide on how to choose the right heated towel rail. Ready to start shopping? Use our handy filters on the category pages to select the perfect material for you!

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