The buyers guide to towel rails

So you’ve decided to go for it, and in a big way. You’ve carefully waded through mountains of info, everything from the best bathroom suites to tiles, taps to showers. Your new bathroom is starting to take shape and you like what you see, but now you’ve hit the minefield of towel rails (defeated sigh), where do you even begin? There’s chrome towel rails, white towel rails, curved towel rails, square towel rails, designer towel rails, electric towel rails, floor standing radiators, colosseum radiators & designer radiators….I could sense the all-consuming panic as the list went on, but not to worry I’m about to take you on a guided tour of Wholesale Domestic’s buyers guide to towel rails, to make sure you don’t regret your compulsive buy, 2 weeks after it’s been installed. Ready? Let’s get down to business...

Ok, so let’s get something straight, there is a difference between a towel rail and a radiator. I know, pretty obvious stuff eh? But we get customers asking us to explain the difference on a daily basis. Basically, a towel rail is chosen if your main goal is to dry towels, a radiator on the other hand is chosen as it omits a greater heat output, so is the best choice for icy bathrooms. A radiator can also be chosen for a designer look in your bathroom and can technically still dry towels, but can look messy and be awkward to hang towels on as this is not what it’s designed to do.

So first things first, identify what you need or want from this addition. Does it need to heat a very cold room or does it need to dry multiple towels at once? If you’ve decided that you need a radiator in your new bathroom, then is where we’ll part ways for now – I’ll be writing a buyer’s guide to radiators soon to answer any questions. On the other hand, if you’ve decided ‘Yes! A towel rail is the fellow for me’ then we’re just getting started.

First off, it’s a good idea to determine what size you will need. This will be based on a combination of factors, like the size of your family and if this is used as the main bathroom. Another factor to consider is the size of your current radiator, it will be easier for your plumber to install a towel rail that is the same width as your existing radiator rather than altering the pipes to suit. As a rule, I would say that if you have the space you should always go bigger. You’ll never regret having an extra rung for an additional damp towel. Ok, so if you have a family then it’s best to choose a towel rail with enough space to hang and dry at least 4 towels (or one towel per person), singletons or couples could opt for a smaller version, maybe for 2 towels but bear in mind that you’re likely to have this in your home for the next 10 years, so choose wisely to accommodate future plans. Obviously, this is all very well and good if you have enough space to include something bigger, but if you don’t just choose the best size to fit the space in question.

Ok to summarise, go and measure the width of your existing radiator (don’t worry if you don’t have one in place already, we’ll get to you) and decide how many towels your new appliance needs to be able to dry at once, and if your bathroom has space for it. It's worth noting that it's not the end of the world if you're new towel rail isn't the same width as your radiator, it's just a bit trickier to amend the pipe width. Ok, got it? 

The buyers guide to towel rails

The next hurdle is the electric vs thermostatic decision. Thermostatic is ideal if you already have the necessary plumbing in place in your bathroom, and if you already have a central heating system in your home. This makes a thermostatic towel rail a sensible choice and is very easy to control from your heating system in the same way as a radiator is controlled. An electric towel rail is perfect if you don’t have pipe work in place, or if you don’t have central heating as it doesn’t connect to the heating system. An electric towel rail is used independently and is even a good idea for a second bathroom, especially if you don’t want the hassle of installing pipe work to be able to dry towels. Both styles are available in a huge range of sizes to suit every household size, and both produce an excellent amount of heat that dries towels perfectly, as well as creates a stable temperature in the bathroom.

If you’re unsure about this, it could be helpful to write a for and against list for each style to determine what’s best for you and your home. A good rule of thumb is, if you have central heating just go for the thermostatic, you’ll already have the plumbing in place anyway, and if you don’t have central heating or want to add a towel rail to a second bathroom without any drama go for the electric option.

Consider your budget, there’s no point in deciding on a family towel rail then choosing the smallest in the range to suit your budget. If you’re expecting a serious change in the way towels need to be dried in your home and you have a decent sized family, you’ll just be disappointed with a tiny towel rail. Try and give each family member their own rung as well as a decent gap between each towel for efficient drying space. If you choose to buy a thermostatic towel rail then you’ll need to budget for valves too. Valves control how much water from your central heating system goes into the towel rail which affects the performance, you NEED valves for a thermostatic towel rail, they’re not optional and will set you back anything from £15 to £25 per pair (you need two).

Last (surprisingly) is the design, I know what you’re thinking…you would normally choose this first, but it’s best to do this last, as you won’t be disappointed if something you like doesn’t meet the essential criteria you’re looking for. Ok, so in all honestly most people just pick what they like, there’s no essential guidance you need from me here, so just choose your favourite. Some people like to mimic the style of their bathroom design, so if you have a round theme or a square theme, pick a matching towel rail. Equally, we have customers who opt for something completely different to the style of their bathroom, so just go with your gut.

One point to note, is that our range of white towel rails actually omit more heat than our chrome range. This is because chrome acts like an insulator, and absorbs some of heat before it reaches the surface. Our white enamel towel rails aren’t made with chrome, so are much hotter in comparison and are a particularly wise choice for colder bathroom settings.   

To recap…

  1. Do you need a towel rail or a radiator?
  2. What size of towel rail is right for you and will it fit in your bathroom?
  3. Electric or thermostatic?
  4. Consider your budget, and don’t buy something too that won’t meet your expectations.
  5. Thermostatic? You’ll need a pair of valves.
  6. Choose the design, pick something you really love!
  7. Remember that white towel rails omit a greater heat output than chrome ones.

Hopefully this will help you on your way to a complete bathroom, but if you’re still struggling and need some advice you could pop into our Glasgow showroom located here or give us a call on 0844 809 4249. You can also view our full range of towel rails here. Happy hunting/deciding, whatever you want to call it for now and we’ll tackle another dilemma next week!