Heating our extension with Old Fashioned Radiators v Underfloor Heating

July 27, 2017

One of the big decisions in any renovation is heating. So many people these days seem to go for underfloor heating so as not to have to worry about taking up wall space with radiators. But we've never been a fan of underfloor heating. My parents have it and it seems to be either boiling hot or cold, it takes a while to respond so if you're too hot then it takes ages to cool down. We're not people for a boiling hot stuff house either. There's the risk of it going wrong too and you having to dig up your whole floor. Obviously a lot of people do like it, and I'm not saying not to go for it. In a lot of houses it's the right option and it would be lovely to have toasty warm feet {side note - it's not great for plants on the floor or any food, my parents can't put food christmas presents under the tree because the floor gets warm}. It's just we much prefer old fashioned central heating with thermostatic valves that are easy to control. We recently had Hive installed too which means we can control it from our phones and switch it on before we come home etc. But what I wanted to share today is our love for old fashioned radiators. 

Our house is a period property and when we bought the house, we knew we wanted to add more character with cast iron radiators. On our first stage of house renovations {the bedroom/lounge/hallway etc} we didn't really know where to start with properly old, reclaimed radiators. We thought they'd be prohibitively expensive, didn't know where to source a whole matching set from that were the correct sizes, didn't know how to repurpose them or how they'd work with a modern heating system. So we went with copies of the old fashioned radiators in a modern version. 

They're lovely, and do the job, but then for the kitchen extension we discovered Ribble Radiators through instagram.

Ribble Radiators are a family run business in Yorkshire who have spent over twenty years refurbishing and sourcing traditional cast iron radiators across the UK. They have one of the largest stocks of reclaimed old fashioned radiators in the country with a range of different shapes and sizes to choose from. And the best bit is that they can finish them in any paint colour you'd like, from the hundreds of RAL colours to Little Greene or Farrow & Ball as well as their own suggestions with metallic finishes. 

I first started discussing our radiators in January of this year, before our extension was even out of the ground in blockwork. We wanted to know in advance for plumbing pipes etc so planned out where in the room we thought they should go. We dealt with Suzie throughout and she sent us a brochure to look at the different shape options. I didn't realise before just how many different types there are, from ornate pretty decorative designs to the classic almost utilitarian school radiators and the Duchess and Princess styles in between. We in the end, after looking at lots of photos {and the girls at Ribble are amazing for sending lots of photos to help you choose} decided on the Duchess style. Described as " An elegant radiator, with a soft rounded top, rounded columns and integral legs. The style originated in the late Victorian and Edwardian era and is most commonly seen featuring two columns, though single and four column examples are also found. The rounded design and simple lines make this a versatile model and well suited for traditional interiors." 

Next, Suzie had to check their stock levels based on the amount of heating we required. Your room size and heating area will need to be worked out. We sent Suzie our floorplan and the dimensions of the room to work out the heating output {BTU = british thermal unit} required to heat it. They're super helpful in this aspect. From this, and with the stock available we decided on three radiators of differing sizes for the kitchen and one smaller radiator for the utility room which was a smaller space to heat. You can request the size you like, if in stock, or choose from their list. We went with a smaller one for the wall next to the kitchen, a taller one for behind our dining table and another mid size for the back of the room. 

With the radiators chosen, they then spend some time getting restored. They get dipped into a chemical tank to clean them and fully flushed out before getting converted so that they're compatible with modern pipework. They're then fully tested with pressure to make sure there are no leaks and then get primed and painted. The radiators come with detailed installation instructions and a 10 year guarantee. Radiators can be ready in 2-3 weeks. We had ours stored for a while as we weren't ready for them. 

One of the funnest parts I thought was choosing the colours and accessories. The brochure is like a pick and mix shop with the accompanying valves, wall stays and sleeve kits in beautiful finishes. There are options for manual or thermostatic valves, all so perfectly explained with the differences. The whole thing from start to finish was so customer focused. I honestly can't stress just how helpful Suzie was for helping us make each decision.

Colour wise we went for Pewter sparkle in the end after seeing this colour in photos of radiators in Suzie's house. Whilst I thought about going for a Farrow & Ball colour to tie in with the rest of our kitchen, these look different on radiators as they would on a wall because of the finish on them. Whereas the metallic paint finish options work so well with the feel of the radiators and have a bit more to them without looking flat. We decided on this classic grey colour as I've seen lots of cast iron radiators in this colour. White and light colours also look lovely and I was tempted but these ground the room and add a feature to an otherwise plain neutral wall. I saw an amazing yellow coloured radiator on Ribble's instagram page though, how amazing would that be!

Fitting wise I'm obsessed with antique brass at the moment which ties in to our kitchen cabinet furniture. We went for thermostatic valves with antique brass but there was a lovely old English brass option too. Suzie can send samples of these if you're having trouble choosing like we did. There's also some beautiful copper options and nickel/chrome depending on the rest of your interiors. It really felt like we were kids in a sweet shop with all these fun options to choose. 

For wall stays, which hold the heavy radiator into the wall, we thought about antique brass but then decided on having them the same colour as the radiator to make them blend in a little more. But again these can be sprayed to whatever colour you choose.

You'll want to make sure you have some help on hand when they arrive by courier. They're soo heavy being cast iron! We knew the sizes before they arrived so had pipes put in the floor ready for them to be plumbed in.

They were even more beautiful than I'd ever imagined when they arrived. 

And I love how they're such a feature in the room. It's been summer ever since we had them installed so I can't comment on how toasty they are yet but BTU wise we should be toasty this winter. Being cast iron they should retain heat well too.

This one that sits in between the two leather chairs is my very favourite I think. But also the one behind the kitchen table, the biggest one, is so beautifully elegant too.

We still have so many tools behind this table {renovation life} so I'm yet to get finished photos but more to follow soon!

This part of the kitchen, with the third radiator, isn't quite finished yet and we need to plumb it all in.

But it sits next to our WC and will heat the other end of the kitchen and out into the hallway.

We got a mini version for our utility room. Again, not plumbed in yet as we haven't needed them and have been rushing trying to get the outside garage/greenhouse etc finished. But I can't wait to finish this off soon and get the gorgeous fittings added.

More photos to follow! Obviously I'm not wishing summer away one bit but a tiny part of me is looking forward to trying these out with the heating on a chilly day!

You can find out more on Ribble Radiators here. And their Instagram here.

If you've got any questions about Ribble Radiators/cast iron rads then feel free to message me. 

R <3 xx 

{I was very lucky to have had the amazing Ribble Radiators contact me for this collaboration and provide our radiators but as always I would never ever promote a company that I wouldn't use myself. All opinions are 100% my own}

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