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What’s the difference between reproduction and vintage radiators?

The merits of reproduction and reclaimed radiators

There’s more than one way to introduce a touch of elegant traditional class to your home heating. Yes, retro is all the rage, and punters are falling over themselves to upgrade their period properties with radiators to match.

Both reproduction and vintage radiators represent ideal components with which you can do so, but what is the difference between each style? What benefits or potential disadvantages can the designs bring to your property?

This article will help you choose between investment in a brand new cast iron radiator, or a potentially lighter outlay on a reclaimed vintage radiator…

Milano Beatrix antique copper cast iron radiator

Reproduction or vintage radiators

The difference between reproduction and reclaimed vintage radiators is quite simple. Reproduction radiators are essentially newly crafted models that incorporate a classic aura.

In the case of reclaimed cast iron radiators, the components are basically second-hand designs that retain all the vintage appeal you would associate them with.

Your granny was right – you can find all sorts of good stuff in them junk shops!

More than with any other style, reclaimed period style radiators are perhaps the best sort of second-hand designs to source with regards to aesthetics. In fact, a slightly worn radiator could even serve to enhance a traditional look even more.

You might not choose to buy a radiator with chipped paint or mildly misshapen edges right off the shelf. But if you come across a used Victorian cast iron radiator you like, that will add to the character of your space, it could well be worth going for.

So the next time you get dragged to an antique shop when you’d rather nip to the pub, just have a quick look what’s lurking around heating-wise; it might save you a pretty penny.

Then sneak off for a pint.

Close up image of Milano Beatrix ornate cast iron radiator

Reproduction radiators vs vintage radiators – Performance and fitting

Obviously, you could probably expect a longer lifespan from reproduction radiators, which should be accompanied by a warranty at the point of purchase. Each of our traditional radiators, for instance, come complete with a 10 year guarantee.

Depending where you buy from, it’s unlikely that you’ll receive a guarantee with a reclaimed radiator. But that might not be especially important to you, especially if you are picking up a real bargain.

Cast iron radiators will typically take longer to heat than modern steel radiators, for example, so don’t worry about a reclaimed rad taking a while to work itself up to deliver an impressive blast of heat – that would be perfectly normal, and to be expected from reproduction radiators also.

What can make your life a lot easier though, is having the exact dimensions of reproduction radiators to hand. You’ll find that most online retailers will provide such details, so you can work out what size radiator will be appropriate and leave enough floor or wall space for other furniture, fixtures and fittings.

With reclaimed vintage radiators, there’s probably going to be some guesswork involved as to how well they will suit your home. You can make an educated prediction* of course, but might find that a smaller radiator won’t provide the sort of heat output you expect.

Again, it could be worth the risk if the required outlay isn’t too significant.

*What does your ‘educated prediction’ look like? Any past DIY blunders or measurement mishaps to your name? Tread carefully!

Close up details of Milano Beatrix ornate cast iron radiator

Restoration of vintage radiators

An extra factor to consider with regards to reclaimed vintage radiators is their potential to require restoration. A quick radiator inspection might not bring up any red flags, but small leaks can sometimes be incredibly difficult to spot on original cast iron radiators.

And if you do learn that your second-hand radiator isn’t quite in the condition you first thought, you likely have little choice other than to restore it (after you’ve torn your hair out).

Of course, restoration would necessitate extra spend, and there’s no guarantee that it will be able to perform at its previous optimal level. So it could work out just as cheap to go for a reproduction rad from the offset.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. Cast iron radiators usually take longer to heat up than other radiator types.

However, it should be noted that cast iron radiators will also typically retain their heat for longer, and stay warmer for longer when the central heating is turned off. They can do this due to the increased mass incorporated by the cast iron material.

As such, they are commonly used as kitchen or lounge radiators.

Yes. Reclaimed cast iron radiators can prove a good option in many circumstances.

Our Advice Centre blog, What’s the Difference between Reproduction and Vintage Radiators, explains about the nuances of reclaimed cast iron radiators, and what sort of homes they might be a good fit for.

Due to their features and properties, reclaimed cast iron models can often be used as kitchen or lounge radiators, and are less commonly used as a substitute for bathroom radiators.

Essentially, reproduction radiators are heating designs that are manufactured multiple times. The BestHeating designer radiator collection features plenty of examples of stunning contemporary reproduction models.

Vintage radiators will tend to have a more traditional aura, perhaps incorporating bespoke design elements. They often come in the form of cast iron radiators, and are sourced second hand or in a used condition.

For a more detailed analysis of the differences between the two types, take a look at our full Advice Centre blog, What’s the difference between Reproduction and Vintage Radiators?

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