A Guide To Heating Your Hallway
If you could get your hands on a heat map of your home – one that shows where you spend most of your time – you might be surprised to see that one of the areas you frequent more than any other, is the hallway.
Think about it.
You probably come into your home through the hallway, you’ll pass through it to go from room-to-room and you’re likely to have to go back through it again to get back outside.
It’s the place that you take off your shoes, dump your coat, your handbag, briefcase or backpack and where the dust and dirt from the everyday grind will congregate the most.
If you lay new carpet down in every room of your home and go about your daily business as usual, the first place the carpet would wear out and need to be replaced is likely to be the hallway.
You might not think it, but your hallway is one of the busiest areas in your home and with so much going on in that space it makes sense to make it as pleasant a place to be as possible, doesn’t it?
But the way your hallway looks is not the only consideration you should be making, it plays an important part in how you heat your home too, and heating it correctly can often be more difficult than you expect.
Tricky Hallway Heating
Unlike some of the other rooms in your home, your hallway often tends to lead off to a variety of different spaces.
My hallway, for example, leads to my kitchen, front room and conservatory; not to mention the staircase and the landing space, upstairs.
When compared to my bedroom or bathroom, the amount of space that my hallway radiator has to heat is effectively double the volume of the radiators in other rooms.
Even if your hallway is a relatively small space – let’s say 6-metres-square at ground level – if it sits at the bottom of your stairs and leads up to the first-floor landing, you could potentially be looking at heating a space with a volume of air in the region of 60 cubic metres!
When you compare that to a standard living area with the same floor area and a room height of around 3 metres, the volume of air you are heating is only around 18m³ – less than a third of the volume of your hallway and staircase area combined.
Because of this, it’s not uncommon to have a spot in your hallway or landing area that gets (and stays) warmer than elsewhere.
This ‘hot-spot’ is the place in which the heat from a radiator in the hallway will naturally rise to, often leaving the rest of the space cold and uninviting.
It’s a pretty tricky proposition to be fair.
Heat naturally rises and even in the smallest of hallways, it can be quite a lot of space to have to heat and maintain a comfortable temperature in, so it’s important to get it right.
Ensuring you have the correct size of a radiator is really important, but it’s not just about replacing your hallway radiator for a newer model, there’s more to it than that…
Heating Your Hallway Correctly
Before we even get to what type of heating system is best for your hallway, it’s probably a good idea to look at ways in which you can improve the heat-holding efficiency of the space first.
By that, I mean ensuring that draughts have been minimised and the space made as air-tight as possible, you can do this by weather-stripping any doors and windows and plugging gaps that may be causing draughts or allowing the heat to escape from the space.
It could be that the hallway radiator you already have is adequate enough for keeping the room warm, but a lack of insulation and gaps under doors and around windows are preventing you from maintaining a comfortable temperature in that space.
Also, and this may not have crossed your mind, your loft insulation (or lack of it) could be playing a big part too.
If your staircase opens up to a landing and an exposed ceiling at the top of the stairs, loft insulation is definitely something that you need to keep in mind.
Then – after making the required adjustments to your window and door insulation – if you still find that your hallway isn’t maintaining a constant warmth, it could be that you have inadequate insulation between the rafters in your loft.
You may look up in your loft space and find that there is already insulation in place, but it’s important to check that you have the required amount to do the job properly.
The recommended depth of (blanket style) loft insulation has changed somewhat over the last few years, so if you have an older house be sure to check that there is enough up there.
If you discover that there is only a paltry 25mm of insulating material, it is likely to date back to the 1970’s and it’s probably best to just get rid of the stuff.
In fact, any insulation that is less than 100mm (10cm) deep is probably going to be pretty ancient, so it’s best just to throw it out and get some new stuff in.
It can also prove to be difficult to top it up to the recommended level because modern insulation is sold in depths of 100 and 170mm respectively.
The recommended depth of your ‘cold loft’ insulation – that is a loft space that is not actually a room, just a space above the house – is 270mm (27cm).
The 100mm stuff goes in-between the joists and the larger stuff is designed to go across the top of that at right angles; taking the insulation up to the required 270mm depth.
According to the Energy Savings Trust, installing or upgrading insulation in homes in the UK could save you anywhere between £135 and £240 dependent upon the type of property you have – it can also have a great impact on the size of your carbon footprint.
Most recycling centres will accept loft insulation in any quantity and you are encouraged to dispose of it in a ‘Waste To Landfill’ container.
Do You Have The Correct BTU Output?
If you’ve gone to all the trouble to remove, replaced and reinstalled your loft insulation, added some weather-proofing to your windows and doors and perhaps even invested in a draught excluder but still find that your hallway just won’t stay warm, then perhaps it’s time to look at making a change to how you heat the space altogether.
As I mentioned above, the radiator that you currently have in your hallway may be perfectly capable of heating that space, if you didn’t have to factor in the staircase and the landing space at the top of the stairs.
If you blocked off your stairs and turned your heating on, your hallway would probably be cosy and inviting in no time at all – but you aren’t about to block off one integral section of your home at any time, are you?
In short, the answer to that question is a resounding – NO!
Instead, it may be an idea to consider increasing the size and the output of your radiator or perhaps add another into the mix.
Take a quick look at this infographic and see if your temperatures measure up to what is considered the ideal numbers…
Using our BTU Calculator to work out the heat requirements of a space like the one I mentioned above (6m²) – with the stairs blocked off – gives us a required BTU output of around 1761 BTUs (515 watts).
But if you unblock the staircase and add the space upstairs on the landing area to that calculation – and throw in a couple of double glazed windows for good measure – your required BTU output is closer to 4000 BTUS; considerably more than what you probably already have in place.
As you can see, making this calculation (and getting it right) is hugely important to the success of the heating in that space. Get it wrong and you could be wasting energy, spending money you needn’t have spent and still be no closer to having a warm and inviting entrance or hallway in your home.
So once you have determined the correct BTU output for the hallway radiator, it’s probably time to consider your heating options and make moves towards improving the look and feel of your space.
Hallway Heating Options
There are loads of different options for heating your hallway, but how and what you choose to do so will depend upon a variety of factors – BTU output requirements, the style of the space and the size of your hallway.
If you have a slim and narrow space, you aren’t going to want a large oversized radiator that takes up a lot of space – equally, a larger room will require a higher output, meaning a small installation just isn’t going to cut the hallway heating mustard.
The truth is, every home is different and the best heating options vary from space to space – just as styles and tastes vary from people to people – but hallways are likely to be rather narrow, tall spaces and, because of this, the first thing that would be on my heating radar would be a tall, vertical radiator.
The photos above are a fantastic example of how a tall vertical radiator can help to make the most of an available space and transform the way it looks almost instantly.
This is an example sent to us from our customer Carolyn Brooks who replaced her tired looking panel convector with a stylish black Milano Aruba radiator back in 2016.
Not only does this impressive radiator change the way Carolyn’s hallway looks, it also offers over 7,000 BTUs of heat that will help to keep the space warm and cosy.
Though Carolyn’s hallway is long and narrow – which would lead you to think it may not need a lot of heat to keep it warm – due to the large number of adjoining rooms and the doors leading to each of those spaces, it makes much more sense for her to opt for a radiator with a higher heat output, ensuring the space maintains a comfortable temperature.
Science – the 2nd law of thermodynamics to be exact – tells us that hot goes to cold, so if you have a hallway that is inadequately heated, every time you opened a door, the heat from the room you were in would be lost to the cold of the hallway, as the temperature attempts to balance itself out.
This is why having a warm hallway is integral to maintaining a steady temperature throughout your entire home; one that doesn’t lead to your boiler, thermostat and radiators working overtime and costing you more money than you need to spend.
The first statement of the 2nd law of thermodynamics – heat flows spontaneously from a hot to a cold body – tells us that an ice cube must melt on a hot day, rather than becoming colder.
Do I Really Need A Hallway Radiator?
You might think it’s a good idea to remove your radiator from your hallway altogether. This can help you to save space and make room for more general hallway amenities like a phone chair (love them) or a bookcase (love them even more).
You could perhaps add a grandfather clock or one of those reconditioned church pews or something, but in all honesty, though they may look great and add character to your space, the removal of your hallway radiator to accommodate such things is only going to lead to higher bills and a hallway that ‘literally’ sucks the heat away from other rooms.
As I mentioned above, hot goes to cold, so if you have the heating on and open the door to your hallway, all of that heat is being wasted; costing you more money and creating an environment that will not stay warm regardless of how high you turn up the heating.
If you have a hallway radiator, just try turning it off for a day or two and leave the doors open to the hallway. You’ll soon find that all of the heat from the other rooms begins to make its way to the hallway.
Even if you close the doors, heat will find its way through gaps under and around the door and try to escape in any way it can – this is why you need a hallway radiator, it’s all about balance.
What About Underfloor Heating?
Perhaps another consideration to make when it comes to heating your hallway could be underfloor heating.
As much as I like to promote radiators (cos they’re super-cool [hot]) if you live in a two or three storey home, a radiator may not be the best option for heating a hallway, for the many reasons I have listed above.
A wall-mounted radiator isn’t as beneficial in this space as underfloor heating would be, as much of the warm air is swept upstairs thanks to our old friend, the convection current.
If you have a carpet in your hallway, it can be easier to keep the space warmer with a radiator than if you have ceramic tiles or wood flooring.
But, if you do have wooden floors or some form of tiling, making the space as warm and welcoming as you may want it to be, can be difficult with a radiator alone – enter, electric underfloor heating.
Electric UFH will give off a gentle heat that will warm the space rapidly and, unlike convector radiators, it won’t promote draughts.
Underfloor heating will give off a radiant heat, the source of which is where you would need it the most in a space like a hallway – under your feet.
UFH in the hallway will also allow you to set the thermostat a little lower, saving you money on your bills too.
Other Ways To Keep Your Hallway Warm
Another thing to think about, when heating your hallway and your staircase area, is that it may make a little more sense to install a radiator at the top of your stairs as well as in the hallway.
Doing this will minimise the amount of heat lost from downstairs and an electric designer radiator could be a fantastic option.
An electric radiator could be a handy quick fix to add some style and warmth to your space.
Installing one at the top of your stairs won’t require you to move any pipework around, so if you have an electrical outlet at on the top of the landing, perhaps it could be time to consider an electrical installation.
The good thing about electric heating is that it is quick to heat up and converts every single kilowatt of energy into heat, helping to warm up your space rapidly and ensure that it is comfortably warm much sooner than a centrally heated alternative.
There is also the functionality issue of hallway heating.
Everybody wants to be sure that they look their best when they leave the house, and I have no doubt that a lot of the people that you know have a mirror in their hallway for the sole reason of ‘scoping’ how they look before they take a trip anywhere.
Modern radiator designs mean that you can now benefit from the best of both worlds and combine your home heating with a full-length mirror.
So, if you are going to opt for a radiator in your hallway, perhaps something like the Intra from award-winning heating specialists Terma, could be a good way to go.
That way, you can keep your space nice and warm, add designer style and guarantee that you always look your best when you leave the house.
How Do You Heat Your Hallway?
Obviously, there are many options you can go for in order to heat your hallway.
Some will be perfect for you, others will not, it’s just a case of finding the right balance between saving space and maintaining a warm and comfortable temperature.
If you’d like to tell us about how you solved your hallway heating problem, feel free to give us the low-down in the comments below and if you’re still searching for the perfect solution, feel free to drop me an email and I’ll see if I can help you out – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay Safe & Happy Heating!
John loves reading design blogs and bringing those ideas to the Advice Centre in his own inimitable style. When he isn’t writing copy, you’ll find him reaching out to industry experts to get the latest on all the heating news.