Cast Iron Radiator Buying Guide

An introduction to cast iron radiators

The earliest examples of cast iron radiators date back to 1841 and developed over the next 50 years to the some of the designs and manufacturing methods that are still used today. This type and style of radiator remained very popular all the way into the 1950's and has seen a real resurgence in popularity since the late 1990's.

Each radiator is made up of sections that are individually cast in a foundry, then machined before being attached together with joining nipples and gaskets. We offer a multitude of designs and sizes to cater for any size of room. Due to the way each section is joined we can even deliver very long radiators broken down into sections, so they can be moved into position and assembled on site, ideal when buying radiators for very large rooms.

One great advantage of cast iron is its mass and the ability of that mass to hold and store heat; radiating heat into the room even after your boiler has switched off. This heat retention is a point that customers often mention when writing reviews of our cast iron radiators.

Another primary reason that people buy cast iron radiators is the style, these are beautiful works of art that offer a stylish centre piece to any room and also make a great first impression when used in entrance hallways.

Finish & Colour

As well as the shape, designs and ornate detailing available on cast iron rads, colour can make a real impact. The most popular choice of finish would be one of our metallic paint finishes, especially with our Georgian 4 column and Shelbourne Victorian 3 column ranges, which can be made to order and delivered in just 7 working days.

Where a radiator has more defined detail on ranges such as Baroque Classique and Cromwell cast iron radiators, a hand burnished finish or "wash" can be applied to highlight the detail or even add an aged look to the radiator.

Cast iron radiators can even be hand polished to a bare metal finish, this polished finish requires just a small amount of regular maintenance to ensure it does not tarnish and keeps its stunning looks.

Installation & Mounting

Please take the time to read this section, so you are fully prepared when taking delivery and installing your cast iron radiators.

Lifting & Shifting

Cast iron radiators are very heavy by the nature of the material they are made from. For this reason you'll need plenty of manpower when taking delivery of your radiators and when it comes to positioning them for the actual installation. The ideal way to carry a cast iron radiator is have two pieces of wood, slipped between the sections at each end, so the radiator can be carried vertically (as it would stand normally). Avoid laying radiators on their side to carry them as this has the potential to break the seals between each section and cause a leak. The sections can be re-tightened, but carrying the radiators correctly should avoid this issue in the first place.

Mounting

All our cast iron radiators come with feet sections, so they sit on the floor. In addition to this top retaining stays or "wall stays" should be fitted to avoid the radiator tipping over. We supply wall stays with our own brand radiators as standard, but you can also upgrade to a luxury radiator wall stay that are finished to match our range of radiator valves & sleeve kits.

Long Radiators

If you order a radiator that is longer than 1200mm, it may be delivered split into two or more sections. This is due to size being limited by the size of the pallets that the radiators are delivered on and to make lifting and manoeuvring the radiator into position more straight forward. Once in situ, the two sections are easily joined using the supplied joining nipples and gaskets. We can also supply a suitable joining key if required that is returnable for a full refund with all our own brand radiators.

Pipework

Our cast iron radiators are connected to your heating system just like any other radiator, using a pair of radiator valves to supply and control the water flow in and out. Installation is straight forward and you should have a qualified installer carry out the work for you.

What size cast iron radiator do I need?

Heat output is the first factor to consider when choosing what size radiator you require, the available space in your room is the other determining factor. You can of course install more than one radiator in a room if required and this may prove a better option for heat distribution in larger rooms and may also be more aesthetically pleasing.

Calculating Radiator Heat Output Requirements

Please call us as we are here to help you calculate your heat requirements. Your installer will often provide you with the heat requirements for each room, please check if specified in Delta T50 or Delta T60, so we can find you the perfect radiator and the best price. If you would like us to calculate your heat requirements, please call or email our experienced sales team, with the following details for each room.

  • What is the type of room? Kitchen, lounge, bedroom...
  • Room height, length and width
  • Windows - single or double glazed
  • Are the external walls of the room sheltered, average or exposed

Pipe Centres

The phrase "pipe centres" is used to describe the dimension between the inlet and outlet (AKA flow and return) pipes on a radiator, these are the pipes that attach directly to the radiator valves. Installers will often request these measurement at an early stage to enable them to "rough-in" the pipework of your heating system. We are happy to supply these dimensions for roughing-in of pipe work, but it is highly recommended that you wait until the radiators arrive on-site before finishing the pipework or consider laying floor coverings.

As cast iron radiators are built in sections and each section has a tolerance in it's length, there can a sizeable difference between the stated overall length of a radiator and the actual length of delivered product. Other variables can also play a part, such as specific radiator valve used on the radiator and even the amount of PTFE tape an installer might apply to the thread of the radiator coupler.

Accessories

It is easy to overlook the accessories you might require to complete the installation of your cast iron radiator or to achieve a specific look. Here is a quick guide to the points you might want to consider.

End Bushes

Bushes are the caps that fit on each end of the radiator, the two at the bottom are generally used to connect radiator valves for the flow in and out and the two at the top generally comprise of one blanking cap and one that has an air-vent fitted, to allow you to bleed air from your system. As standard these come in a plain design, but on certain ranges we are able to offer two alternative designs, these are the Leyton and Wendover end bushes. As standard all our radiators are supplied with 1/2" inlet bushes, should you need 3/4" inlets or 3/4" radiator valves, we are able to supply these as required.

Radiator Valves

We have an extensive range of valves available for our radiators, we are happy to help if you are not sure what you need, so please feel free to call us. To start with most customers choose between manual valves or thermostatically controlled (TRV), the latter giving you a more balanced room temperature and are more energy efficiency. Next you'll choose style; given the traditional nature of cast iron radiators most people opt for a traditional cast iron radiator valve, but we also have a range of modern valves on offer.

Once you've selected your favoured style it's down to the direction of your inlet pipes. You can select between angled, corner or straight radiator valves, as a rough guide

  • Angled valves - where pipes come up from the floor into the bottom of the valves
  • Straight valves - where pipes run along the wall
  • Corner valves - where pipes come out of the wall directly into the back of the valves

Sleeve Kits

Pipe shrouds AKA sleeve kits are the perfect finishing touch for your installation and purchased by around three quarters of all customers. These metal tubes are finished to match your radiator valves and slide over copper or plastic inlet pipes that come up from the floor or out from the wall. Supplied with a matching escutcheon (floor plate) used to hold the pipe cover in place and cover any rough edges and gaps between the floor (or wall) and the inlet pipework.

Wall Stays

Also popular are our luxury wall stays. Again supplied in a matching finish to the valves and sleeve kits, these are used to secure the radiator to the wall for safety and prevent the radiator from being tipped over. Whilst not essential (as we supply standard steel wall stays with each radiator) the luxury wall stay is popular as a finishing touch and where the wall adjacent to the radiator is not solid. The luxury wall stays are more versatile when it comes to using alternative fixings.