In this article we explain what types of ironing boards are available, what are the best brands to look for and explain all you need to know about sizes and covers for these boards.
This can get complex but don't worry we take you through this ironing board guide step by step and answer all of your questions.
Types of Available Ironing Boards
There are several different types of ironing boards available on the UK market. These include:
- Standard size ironing boards for normal steam iron use
- Traditional Wooden Ironing Boards
- Steam generator ironing boards which are larger and wider than a normal sized board
- Table top ironing boards
- Heavy duty ironing boards
- Wall Mounted ironing boards (Space saving boards)
- Ironing boards for shirt sleeves
- Ironing board centres
- Travel Iron Mats
So even with something as basic and simple as an ironing board, you can already see, there are lots of different types, and they do have different purposes. We will explain these just below so as you know exactly what is available on the UK market. That way you can make the best decision for your own personal needs.
Most UK buyers will want a standard size ironing board, and for anyone who owns a steam generator iron, they will want the slight larger and stronger steam generator ironing board. The other types described here are for specific uses.
Standard Sized Ironing Boards
There are thousands of ironing boards sold in the UK every year. The vast majority of these are standard sized ironing boards that are designed for use with a normal steam iron. We do have to use the term "standard size" pretty loosely as the sizes do vary slightly.
In terms of size these can be anything from 120-135 cm long and the width can be anything between 35-45 cm. The size varies by brand and by the individual model of board. It is important to note the exact size though when you are buying a cover as a proper fit is vitally important.
Most of these have adjustable height settings, fold away for storage and will have an iron holder at one end.
Traditional Wooden Ironing Boards
Many UK buyers really like this traditional wooden style of ironing board. They tend to be more expensive than a standard steel ironing board, but they do look very attractive, and they are built to last.
Most manufacturers make these from beech or cherry wood, but will use treated plywood for the surface, that has been perforated to allow the release of steam underneath the board.
They are heavier than standard ironing boards and the better quality ones will have wheels that allow for much easier transport. Most of them also have a laundry shelf underneath.
Most of these are made in Italy. They are the board of choice for most Italian households.
Steam Generator Ironing Boards
You can use a normal standard board for a steam generator iron, but it isn't recommended. Steam generator irons are larger and much heavier than a standard iron. That is because of the much larger water tank. Steam generator ironing boards are designed specifically to be much wider, and much stronger than a standard board.
These ironing boards are manufactured to be stronger and their width will be 45 cms+. The better ones will have a steam unit holder where the base element of the iron can be placed securely. These unit holders are also referred to as a platform.
The Brabantia brand for example do one which measures 124 cm long and a 45 cm width. It has a separate steam unit holder that can accommodate steam generator irons with a size of up to 39 x 29 cm.
Polti also do a version of these boards which have wheels on the bottom for easier transportation.
Many of these boards will also have additional features that include a clothes shelf, a cable holder and a sleeve board.
Table Top Ironing Boards
These are an alternative to large ironing boards. They can be very useful in any home with limited storage, or for a holiday home. They are compact which makes them light and very easy to store. Many online buyers use one of these in the nursery as it can be handy.
These table top boards are also popular for people living in smaller living spaces such as a small apartment or flat, student accommodation or caravans.
These are usually smaller than a normal ironing board, and they come with short fold away legs for easier storage.
Heavy Duty Ironing Boards
These are multi layer ironing boards usually made of composite materials. They will have a gravity balance design that helps avoid accidents around the home. The legs have been welded to a much stronger standard than your average ironing board, and this prevents any risk of the legs snapping or breaking off.
The legs and frame will be made of steel and they are usually further supported with triangular stays. There are not a lot of these on the UK market as many users simply find them to heavy.
Wall Mounted Ironing Boards
These are a good option for anyone working with limited space. A small frame is attached to a wall. The ironing board is then attached to this frame, and it can be quickly folded away when not in use. Some buyers get one of these as they can be fitted inside a cupboard or unit, where something like a door will keep it concealed.
Just be sure if that appeals to you, that the board will fit inside the available cupboard space.
The better models can rotate through 180 degrees so as you can have different positions for ironing.
These boards are not a very popular choice, but they do offer an alternative for anyone with limited space in their home. There is no doubt that these work well as a space saver, but they are not as big as a standard ironing board, so just be aware of that.
Ironing Boards for Shirt Sleeves
As the name would suggest, these are designed to quickly iron the dreaded shirt sleeve. The sleeve ironing board gives you the precision you need when ironing shirts. These have a narrow surface, usually around 10 cm, and you slide the board into the sleeve and quickly iron them to perfection.
The better ones come with some type of non-slip cap that prevents sliding, and they can then be placed on top of your existing ironing board to use.
These are not big boards and will typically measure 60 cms long and 10 cms wide.
Ironing Board Centres
These are designed to keep all the ironing activity in the one place. They are popular for use in utility rooms. You will find these used in many contemporary homes, where an ironing board centre can be fitted into a specific space to try and keep the laundry managed in a specific environment.
They are available in a few different styles and typically include some laundry baskets and an ironing board. The board usually folds down at either end when not in use to keep it neat looking.
Travel Iron Mats
These are mats that can be used for ironing when you are travelling. They are small and light so they can be rolled up and easily fit inside your suitcase. They can be used on a work desk, caravan or in the sewing room or haberdashery.
These are handy when travelling as well, though we think it is important to manage expectations here. They are not as good as your normal ironing board, but they are good enough when on holidays.
Ironing Boards by Brand
There are a number of laundry brands who make ironing boards, and we have listed those below.
- Russell Hobbs
- Iron Worx
Minky, Brabantia and Addis are by far the best sellers of most of the ironing boards sold on the UK market.
Minky Ironing Boards
It is estimated that around 70% of UK homes will have either a Minky ironing board or one of their ironing board covers. They are a company based in Lancashire England. They make a wide range of boards for the various types available. They have a popular Ergo range and also an interesting Hot Spot range.
They are available in the following sizes:
- 110 x 35 cm
- 114 x 38 cm
- 122 x 38 cm
- 122 x 43 cm
Brabantia Ironing Boards
Brabantia are a worldwide brand who were originally formed in the Netherlands. We believe that they make the best quality ironing boards on the market, though they are slightly more expensive than other ironing brands.
They make a range of products that include laundry bags, bins, drying racks,, clothes lines and laundry accessories. They also make ironing boards, covers and ironing accessories.
They are available in the following sizes:
- 110 x 30 cm
- 124 x 38 cm
- 124 x 45 cm
- 135 x 45 cm
Addis Ironing Boards
Addis are another well known brand in the UK. They do a wide range of products for sinks, waste management, cleaning, mats, bathroom, kitchen and of course laundry products.
Their laundry products include ironing boards and covers, airers, laundry baskets, hampers and clothes pegs.
They are based in Hertford in the UK and have been making these types of product since 1920.
Ironing Board Features
Leg Format and why it matters
Most people will be familiar with the legs on an ironing board. One set of legs is fixed, and the other set then moves and slides into a unit under the board, with various height options. Almost every board has 4 legs and there will be some type of non-slip cover on the end of each foot.
In reality most of us are far too busy to concern ourselves much more than that. People certainly don't have time to investigate the construction of an ironing board. However, for those of us who do, that construction is actually pretty important.
The construction of the legs is what gives your board its stability. No-one wants a board moving about, especially when holding a hot iron, and no-one wants the board tipping over, and indeed nobody wants a board falling apart.
At the same time people don't want a heavy board that is hard to lift, manoeuvre around and put away. Manufacturers therefore have to find the balance between using lighter metals and maintaining stability. Where the metal joins, this is done using a brazing or welding process, and that is always going to be a point of weakness.
There are also different designs for these feet. The most stable design is known as "T shape feet" as this helps make the board more stable and stronger.
The average height of a female in the UK is 5 feet 3 inches. The average height of a male in the UK is 5 feet and 9 inches. However we all know that not everyone is the same height. You should never be hunched over an ironing board as it will ruin your posture.
That is why the manufacturers make boards with adjustable height settings. As an example I am 5 feet and 6 inches, my husband is 6 feet and 1 inch and my daughter is 5 feet and 3 inches (and growing) We all need to use the ironing board at slightly different heights.
It is important that you can adjust this to the correct height.
Your kitchen counter tops when installed are put in at a height of between 34-36". That is because kitchen manufacturers like to make standard size units in a mass production style. They really are not suitable for everyone, but the only option is to get a customised kitchen, which most of us can not afford to do.
At least with an ironing board you will have some choice. The better manufacturers will give you a wide range of choices, whereas cheaper boards, will have a limited number of fixed heights. Typically the height of adjustment can vary between 75-97 cm as a general guide.
Does it have an iron rest?
The better boards will have an iron rest at one end of them. This is a place where you can set the iron down when it is not in use. We think this should be an essential requirement, but not every board has one of these.
Some boards instead have an area known as a hot spot where you can rest the iron.
Ironing Board Surfaces
When you purchase an ironing board it will come with some type of covering. The actual surface can be made from some type or permeable mesh metal, that makes them strong, but also allows moisture to evaporate away. That stops the board from rusting, and more importantly ensures your ironing does not get damp.
In older or cheaper boards you will actually find that when you take the cover off, there can be a lot of mess. That is because some manufacturers have a surface made of solid metal, with a few random holes here and there. Those surfaces are also coated with some kind of protective paint.
Steam will over time get through the cover and the felt and get trapped on the metal surface. Over time this will result in flaking of the metal surface underneath. The better boards will have a mesh metal surface with lost of small holes that allow the steam to escape and prevent any build up of moisture.
On top of this surface there will usually be some type of cover that you can iron on. Most ironing board covers are made of cotton. Some also have a reflective coating, but we explain covers in more detail later in this article.
The better quality ironing boards will be fitted with a simple transport lock. You use the lock when moving the board around to prevent it from springing open and causing any damage. It can also stop you from nipping your fingers when carrying it around.
When the board has been stored it stops it from opening up.
Some ironing boards do come with a small hanging rail. This is where you can hook up shirts and blouses. These can be useful but most people probably just hang them on a door handle or something similar.
Some ironing boards do come with a shelf tray. These are a handy folding storage tray to keep freshly ironed clothes out of the way and safe from being creased.
Ironing Board Accessories
Ironing Board Holders
Storage is always an issue for most home owners. Few things are more difficult to store than an ironing board. We have completed a full article on the various options for storing ironing boards which you can read by clicking here.
Ironing Board Covers
As mentioned earlier, most ironing board covers are made of cotton. Some also have a reflective metallic coating. The purpose of this is to help reflect the heat back up to the underside of the garment that you are ironing. This in turn helps speed up the ironing process.
Many ironing board covers may also have some type of felt underlay.
Ironing Board Hangers
These can be useful for hanging up finished ironing as a temporary measure. It means that you can just get on with your ironing and still have your ironed items hanging and staying wrinkle free.
Hopefully we have provided you with all the relevant and important information about the various choices of ironing boards and the available accessories for those.
In reality most buyers will want a standard sized ironing board. Those people who own a steam generator iron would be safer using the larger and wider boards. People with limited space can either opt for a table top, or a wall mounted ironing board.
Having the right board does make the dreaded ironing task a great deal easier.