Radiators are made of cast iron, which is cheapest; pressed steel, which is lighter than cast iron; and aluminium, which is lighter still and does not build up so many deposits inside.
Like almost everything else in life designs are dictated by fashion: Column and hospital radiators. The traditional type. Take up little room because they have surface in depth, but their intricacies and gaps make them difficult to clean.
Panel radiators. Being fairly flat they are easy to clean, but they take up a large amount of wall space.
Skirting radiators. A system of hot pipes enclosed in a metal skirting board. Really suitable only for new houses as installation costs are high.
Fan radiators. The most elegant and, for quick build-up of warmth, extremely efficient.
Where to Place a Radiator
Consideration of the shape of the room and convenience will indicate where a column or panel radiator should be placed. For pure efficiency, stand it under a window.
The window panes will then warm quickly and less condensation will form. Internal draughts will be reduced because, if the radiator is against the opposite wall, warm air striking against extremely cold glass would cool immediately and, becoming relatively heavy, fall rapidly to the floor to take the place of rising warm air. This would tend to give the occupants of the room ‘cold feet’.
If a radiator has to go against a wall fix a shelf about 150 mm (6 in) above it to disperse warm air currents which will carry dust and stain the wall. Irregularities in an uneven wall can be filled by sticking self-adhesive foam draught excluder to the back edge of the shelf.