Consumers are increasingly seeking to create bathrooms that are not only functional but also highly stylised and incorporate the latest interior trends – and their heating is no exception,” explains Charlie Williams, interior designer at Heritage Bathrooms. Homeowners, it seems, have switched on to the potential offered by radiators and heated towel rails to inject life as well as warmth into their bathrooms.
“While functionality and efficiency are just as important as ever, bathroom heating now comes in all shapes, sizes, colours, textures and finishes and the designer radiator is now a focal point and multifunctional component as well as a heat generator,” says Richard Eaton, product manager at PJH.
The first matt black heated towel rail in Heritage Bathrooms’ portfolio, Clifton has been introduced in response to consumer demand for black bathroom products.
Andy Keeley, Bisque marketing manager, agrees. “The market is awash with different styles and sizes to suit all bathrooms, be it classic or contemporary,” he says. Earlier this year, the company, which has primarily focused on modern heating solutions, tapped into the growing demand for traditional-style bathroom products and introduced a trio of models designed for vintage and older properties.
Another company noting the popularity of classically-designed radiators is Bayswater Bathrooms. “There is a strong demand for heritage-style radiators as these continue to stand the test of time,” says design director Barrie Cutchie. According to Chris Harvey, head of marketing at Stelrad: “The majority of radiators are still manufactured in mild steel, although we are seeing an increase in aluminium and stainless steel.”
Newly available in three textured, mottled, paint-effect ‘crackle’ finishes of silver, bronze and copper, plus a selection of RAL colours, Vogue UK’s mild steel Focus MD001 towel warmer comes in a variety of sizes.
In terms of finishes there’s good news for consumers looking to add colour to their bathroom with many manufacturers offering models in hundreds, if not thousands, of different shades. “We are seeing a rise in demand for coloured radiators and now stock our bestselling models in colour. Interior decorators and architects love them and we’re seeing more homeowners wanting them too,” continues Stelrad’s Harvey.
But with so many colours and finishes to choose from, what is topping the consumer wish list? According to MTW Research, white is the firm favourite. “The most popular remains white, although greys and anthracite are growing in popularity. Tracking 2019 tap market trends, metallic finishes represent an emerging trend for bathroom radiators providing value growth with chrome, brushed stainless steel and copper growing,” says director Mark Waddy.
MHS Radiators says that Sofia, which features a minimalist, modern design, has been “incredibly successful” since its launch two years ago and “is a popular upgrade from a standard ladder towel rail.”
For Frontline Bathrooms matt black is de rigueur and has knocked chrome off the top spot. “We’ve seen the continuing popularity of anthracite powder-coated finishes, but can’t deny the resurgence of gloss and copper finishes too,” adds sales and marketing director Michael Sammon.
“Chrome and stainless steel are timeless options that will never go out of style, but other shades are making their mark. Gold and brass are emerging as the new ‘copper’, while matt black styles are also incredibly popular as they can complement the growing selection of coloured taps and baths on offer,” explains Bisque’s Andy Keeley.
With its classic design, Bayswater Bathrooms’ Clifford radiator has been created for period-style interiors. The company says that it is experiencing “strong demand for heritage-style radiators” and that the chrome and gloss black version – it also comes in white – is “hugely popular”.
Chris Gotts, sales director (retail) at MHS Radiators, agrees: “There is growing popularity for matching towel rail finishes to brassware.” It’s not all about aesthetics, however, stresses John O’Brien, Vasco’s business development UK and Ireland, who says consumers are prioritising energy efficiency alongside style and performance in their quest for different but sustainable models. “Radiator manufacturers have evolved their designs to respond to demand from responsible, informed consumers for low carbon or carbon-neutral products.”
From PJH’s Bathrooms to Love Collection, the Strand radiator is made from stainless steel, which the company says is 15% more conductive than chrome.
Sustainable materials such as recycled aluminium and models that have a lower water content and require less energy are “driving efficiency while increasing choice” stresses Vasco’s O’Brien. “With responsible know-how there is no need for consumers to be restricted in choice – in fact, the opposite,” he says. “As responsible manufacturers, we must lead the way.”
Facts and Figures
The bathroom heating market is currently worth £60m, according to MTW Research* director Mark Waddy: “Growth in the decorative bathroom radiators market has emanated from sustained product development as manufacturers continue to adapt to a growing number of consumer demands with sales in 2019 set to rise by 3%.”
According to Stelrad’s head of marketing Chris Harvey, in 2019 “the radiator market reduced every month up until June 2019. Towel rail sales were down 15% but decorative radiator sales were up 21%.” He says during the period, Stelrad increased its share of the radiator market by 2.5%. “The replacement radiators market is still buoyant and going well for us as a business.” PJH also reports that its sales have been strong during the last 12 months and product manager Richard Eaton says: “The popularity of designer radiators is increasing steadily and we have seen our own sales for bathroom heating increase by over 20% year-on-year.” MTW Research director Waddy comments: “Decorative radiators and towel warmers continue to offer growth opportunities for those bathroom retailers able to identify current market trends. By 2023, sales of bathroom heating products will grow by almost 10% as the market continues to evolve quickly.”