What is the best radiator material?

When choosing new radiators for your home, it can be an overwhelming decision-making process given the huge variety of radiators on the market. From radiators being considered a necessity, to them now being seen as a design feature with plenty of styles and colours to choose from, it’s easy to understand why many people struggle to choose the right radiator.

At Stelrad, we believe the best place to start is understanding what the best radiator material is for your home. Each radiator material offers different qualities. This guide aims to provide you with an overview of the main radiators materials available to help make your decision a bit easier.

What Material is a Radiator Made Of?

What material is a radiator made of is a common question we often get. Radiators are your homes source of heat and heat needs to travel through them quickly to heat your home efficiently. Therefore, radiators are made from conductive materials with the most common being steel, stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron.

The Best Material for Radiators – An Overview of Different Kinds

Mild Steel Radiators

Mild steel is a very cheap radiator material that can easily be moulded into different kinds of shapes. Consequently, to produce most radiators and heated towel rails, mild steel generally tends to be the most popular radiator material used.

One of the main benefits of using mild steel is that it’s available in various colours which is great for producing unique designer radiators. Take our coloured column radiators for example. Our steel column radiator can complement the most contemporary of warehouse conversions, provide compatibility with period refurbishment, or add style to the most modern of new building designs both commercial and domestic.

When it comes to offering different designs and coloured radiators, mild steel is second to none. It’s lower production costs also suit if you’re looking for more affordable radiators.

When choosing mild steel as your choice of radiator material, it’s important to ensure your boiler is regularly serviced and that you’ve got a radiator inhibitor added to your system. That’s because mild steel radiators are more prone to rusting, so this will help maintain their longevity.

Stainless Steel Radiators

Stainless steel radiators are incredible heat conductors and built to last. Even after being turned off, stainless steel radiators retain their heat for some time. Plus, they have the added benefit of being able to be crafted into unique shapes for more stunning and contemporary radiator designs.

In comparison to mild steel, you will notice that stainless steel is a bit pricier since it’s a premium metal, but they’re worth it. Especially if you are investing for your ‘forever home’.  Another benefit in comparison to mild steel is that stainless steel is more rust-resistant, and come with longer warranties, so you don’t have to encounter as much radiator maintenance. However, it is still advised to keep your system topped up with radiator inhibitor, to be on the safe side. Also, if you tend to hang wet towels over the radiator, regularly wipe it dry to avoid any rust forming on the outside of the radiator. After all, rusting will not be covered by the warranty.

Aluminium Radiators

Aluminium is a modern-day radiator material and has gained a lot of popularity since manufacturers began using it to produce radiators.

It’s considered a superconductor which means it produces the most heat in comparison to other radiator materials. Therefore, it could be considered the best material for radiators. At Stelrad we use BTU to measure the heat output of our radiators. Aluminium radiators boast a much higher BTU output; so, if you lined up the exact same sized radiator in mild steel, stainless steel, aluminium and cast iron, the aluminium radiator would produce 2-3 times the BTU output compared with the rest.

If we put this into perspective, it means you can heat up a larger space with just one aluminium radiators, whereas it may take a couple made in other materials to match this heat output.

Much like stainless stell, aluminium is also resistant to corrosion and rusting, so you’ve got more peace of mind regarding its longevity.

For those of you who are eco-conscious, aluminium would be a good radiator material for making your home a bit greener. Firstly, aluminium is a recyclable radiator material, only taking 6 weeks to recycle radiators at the end of their lifespan! Additionally, they heat up and cool down rapidly, they are very efficient for heating a room. Plus, they also have low water content, so they require less hot water from the boiler which means they do not need to be on for as long to reach their maximum temperature. All of this has a positive effect on your bills.

You’ll not only be saving money on energy but installation costs too as it’s much quicker and easier given aluminium’s light weight. This also makes them ideal for hanging onto walls that cannot take heavy weight such as hollow plasterboard walls. Despite the benefits, they are more prone to denting and damage. Therefore, it’s important to be more careful with them – probably not the type of radiator material to use in family homes where kids are running about often.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is the OG of radiator materials having been traditionally used for years! It’s nostalgic aesthetic is perfect for creating period-style interiors with optimal heating solutions.

The science of cast iron’s heating properties means it can be incredibly efficient for heating your home. Cast iron may take a while to heat (so use automated heating functions to ensure your home is warmed in timely manners), but they retain their heat for hours meaning you can switch them off earlier than other radiator materials.

Cast iron is incredibly durable, long-lasting, and very heavy as a result. They often have a lifetime guarantee so they’re the perfect choice for your forever home. Therefore, cast iron is often known as the best materials for radiators. Due to their heaviness, their installation may cost more in comparison to others.

At Stelrad, our cast iron column radiators are available in 20 different size options, you have the benefit of choice when it comes to selecting your new cast iron column radiator for your home. Lengths of our cast iron column radiators span from the minimum height of 660mm with lengths between 512mm – 1060mm, or a maximum height of 760mm with lengths of 512mm – 938mm, meaning you can find the perfect sized cast iron column radiator for your home, without having to compromise in terms of space available to you.

Radiator Material Selection

The best material for radiators will often come down to what qualities you are looking for in terms of heating, warranty, durability, and longevity. Then, choosing radiator material is a matter of what you can afford and whether you’re looking for more designer types or not.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly Stelrad team of experts who will be able to provide further advice on your radiator material selection.