Master Bedroom Radiators

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted anything, and for that I apologise…. I’ve been fortunate enough to be away for a few weekends back to back and so consequently, I haven’t had much time to report on the (still somewhat slow) progress in the master bedroom.

That said, a few things have moved forward which I will tell you about.  Firstly – our salvaged and restored Victorian radiators finally arrived after being on an 8 week lead time (apparently these two came all the way from Scotland!), and our plumber finally had a slot to install them two weeks ago… so here they are – installed at last!

So as not to delay the installation, we just got around to painting the window wall so that the area behind the radiators would be painted.  I have to confess that the other three walls of the room are still unfinished plaster in this photo!

We had a few issues along the way which made these radiators A LOT more challenging to source than the ones in our hallway which I will share for reference…

  1.   The salvage shop where we bought our hallway salvaged radiators,  and where I was naively expecting to find some for the master bedroom, didn’t have the size we needed.
  2. The windows in our master bedroom have lovely low sills, but that meant that we needed short radiators to fit neatly below them, which, I quickly learnt, are rather rare.
  3. Radiators come in standard heights, (18″ and 24″ at the short end of the scale) and sadly  24″ is just too tall, so our options were limited further.
  4. After undertaking the heating calculation, it also turned out that with two radiators, we only need a ‘2 column’ width radiator.   These too are also rare, especially when combined with the height requirement.
  5. There are plenty of shops on the internet making replica cast iron rads, but none fit the requirements, they were either too tall, or two deep.
  6. A lot of the replicas didn’t have the same Ideal Boiler Company detailing, which I was keen to match.

In the end, after much searching, I finally came across The Old Radiator Company who were able to source exactly what we were after… they were just on an 8 week lead time…




Master Bedroom Radiators

The first decision I’ve made on my list of bedroom decisions is about the radiators. I suppose this is because it was the easiest decision to make for me and I’m a bit stuck on some of the others.  My hope is that as I make the smaller easier decisions, the more difficult ones will fall into place.   (Even though ‘they’ say you should really always start with the most difficult thing to do on your list.)

Currently there is a single large contemporary ribbed radiator in the middle of the wall opposite the fireplace, located on one of the ideal walls for cupboards (as you can see in this photo here).  I’ve seen this issue numerous times in my friend’s homes too. I suspect that when central heating was first installed in these Victorian terraces, radiators were not positioned under windows, (where you would ideally want them to heat up the coolest air), but as close to the entrance to the room as possible to minimise the pipework runs. This would make the installation as economical as possible.

So, my decision with the room heating is to replace the large single radiator with two smaller sized radiators, positioned under the windows.   When I relocated the guest room radiator from where the bed is now located to beneath the window the cost for a CORGI registered gas and heating guy was about £100, so I am anticipating it will cost about £150 as there are two.

I opted for for contemporary, slim lined flat panel radiators in the guest room and study because the spaces were much tighter and more compact.  In the master bedroom however, we have much more space between the new radiator position and our bed, so I have decided to hunt down some salvaged Victorian radiators like the ones I used in the grand hall.

I’ve mentally justified this seemingly mis-matched approach to our radiators as my driving principle from day one has always been that the front rooms of the house will be kept as traditional and true to the original as possible, while the rooms at the back (where eventually our side return will be built) will be more contemporary.

Although these images (which I found and borrowed from this blog) of white radiators are very pretty, my gut feeling is to get them sprayed gunmetal grey to match the other ones in our house rather than have too many different styles and colours going on. This will also pick up on the colour of the fireplace hearth, cast iron surround, and probably the door knobs (although that is a debate for another time!). Plus I know that grey wont yellow with age like white paints often do. I think if you are going to the trouble of getting a ‘feature’ radiator, then its nice to paint it a contrasting colour to the wall, rather than making it blend in.

The btu’s required for the room, and then consequently the radiator size, can be calculated quite accurately here on Stelrad.  Alternatively, I recently discovered UKAA’s handy online ‘build your own radiator‘ site which gives a rougher btu calculation (as it doesnt take into account windows and wall build ups), but gives you a handy diagram of the victorian radiator and its size.

So a visit to the Old Bathhouse Architectural Salvage is on the cards soon!






Radiator Valves

I have never given much though to radiator valves in the past, (as is the case with most of you I suspect), but having two traditional cast iron radiators being cleaned and delivered this weekend meant that it was something I suddenly needed to learn more about.

The scratched, paint splattered cream coloured standard plastic valves that we currently have on the two radiators that are being replaced won’t exactly go with our Victorian radiators.  In terms of finish I knew I wanted black nickle, as this will go nicely with the exposed conduit going up to my light bulb wall sconce and the other metal in the area. I learnt that there are a number of traditional style thermostatic valves with lovely wood handles like the valve on the left – ranging in price from £50 to a whopping £215 – depending on how trendy looking the website was!  The best price I found for one of these ‘Bently Valves’ was a still quite expensive £49.99 from Cast Iron Radiator Centre.   (For a non-thermostatic valve in this style you can pay about £35-40). As an alternative to the plastic ones, I found that you can get contemporary style valves for about half the price. The top right ‘Milan Valves’  aren’t thermostatic, but come in a black nickel finish and have a nice minimal design and are available for £25 from Heat and Plumb.  If you are after a thermostatic valve, the best I could find in terms of a clean line design in black nickel is the valve on the far right from West Radiators for £33.

The person we bought our radiator from said that thermostatic valves (linked to the heating system) don’t tend to work very well on Victorian radiators as they weren’t designed originally to have them, and that if the radiator is in the room with the thermostat a thermostatic valve can be problematic. As our radiators will be in the hallway where the thermostat is actually located, I’m leaning towards the non-thermostatic valve.

In other less exciting valve details –  valves come in two connection types – straight and angled.  This is slightly beyond my knowledge, so I’m going to ask my plumber to make sure I buy the right ones.

The other detail is the thread type – the most common being 15mm or 1/2 inch. Victorian rads typically need 1/2″ – but its worth checking.


A Boston Terrier of a Radiator…

The radiator in our front living room currently sits on the wall opposite the fire place conveniently out of the way behind the sofa.  Because you cant see it, and it doesn’t take up much space, we hadn’t planned on replacing it.   But then I sort of fell lin love with this fat squat little Boston Terrier of a radiator and thought it could look good sitting in the bay beneath the windows (where radiators are typically located).  The jury is still out on this one as moving the radiator to the bay would take up more floor area… but similarly I think the radiator could probably serve as an impromptu bench if you threw a few cushions over it when guests came to visit!  I guess I’ll wait until all the furniture is back in place to made that decision…


Flat Panel Radiators & Calculating Radiator Size

While on the topic of radiators… my eventual plan for the upstairs bedrooms is simply to replace the radiators with slim lined flat panel ones.

Hudevad (first two in top row) do lovely flat panel radiators like the Plan range and they are normally what we specify at work, however they do come with a rather ridiculous price tag.

Alternatives for about half the price include the Vita Plan from Stelrad (bottom). Stelrad has a useful online radiator size calculator which you can download here. Unlike other calculators it takes into account detailed room information such as window size, wall build up, and whether each wall is adjacent to the interior or exterior.   Interestingly, most of the existing radiators we have are oversized, however after speaking with the Stelrad technician I learnt that it is ok to oversize them, it just means the rooms will heat up quicker.

In the end I have ordered a Planal Horixontal range from Ultraheat (middle) for the spare bedroom as I plan to get our plumber to install this when he hooks up the dishwasher to make his visit more worthwhile. Ultraheat radiators are the same price as Stelrad, but as they are available in100mm increments, we were able to get an 1100mm long radiator which will fit perfectly beneath the window, at only slightly less the current BTU output.  Job done!


Victorian Cast Iron Radiators

After a visit to my architect friend Jen’s Victorian home in South London last year I was inspired to consider replacing the standard modern radiators with salvaged Victorian ones in the hallway and ‘Grand Hall’ area.

I was keen for the radiator to be in keeping with the age and style of our terrace so started with a bit of online research. I learnt that the main manufacturers of radiators in the UK around the time our terrace was built in 1879, were Ideal Boiler Co (purchased by the American Radiator company in 1897), and Beeston Foundary. Although I was initially quite taken by the very decorative Victorian Beeston radiators above, I decided that they wouldn’t really be appropriate in our simple boned little terrace, and so decided to search for a cleaner lined Ideal Boiler Co column radiator instead. You can read more about the history of cast iron radiators here if interested.

Luckily, both salvaged and replica cast iron radiators are not in short supply and are available from a number of online salvage shops such as Salvage Doctor, where the images above are from.  But where is the fun in just ordering a slightly overpriced radiator online when you can trek out to distant South London to hunt one down in an old salvage shop specialising in cast iron fireplace surrounds and radiators instead?

Today we took a bus journey out to Sydenham where we met Peter at the Old Bath House Architectural Salvage.  The shop contains Peter’s dizzying haphazard collection of cast iron building elements which he has amassed over 20 years in the business. Fireplaces are stacked 5 or 6 deep against every wall surface and there is barely space to squeeze past.  It’s an amazing place and was worth the visit as we left having purchased two very reasonably priced Ideal Boiler Co radiators which apparently came out of a home in Sloane Square.

They will get shot blasted to remove the paint and then delivered in about a week’s time.   Above are a few photos of The Old Bath House, and the radiators that will soon be warming our home (the white topped ones in the foreground).