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Home & garden.

Updated: 28 Oct 2021

How to choose the best ironing board

Can't decide which ironing board to buy? We explain how to buy the best ironing board size, type and cover for you.
Rebecca Jakeman

Not many of us enjoy ironing, but the right ironing board can be the difference between a quick, painless task and a laborious chore, so it’s important to choose the best one for you.

For some people, a 'tabletop' small ironing board is perfect for straightening up a garment or two. But a large folding or wall-mounted board is often better if you’ve got a big pile of laundry to tackle.

Choosing the right ironing board cover and accessories, and knowing how to set it up correctly, can also save you a lot of time and effort.

Even with the best ironing board, no one wants to spend hours hunched over it, battling with a useless iron. See how to buy the best steam iron to avoid choosing a dud.  

Folding vs wall-mounted ironing boards 

Folding ironing boards

Traditional folding ironing boards can move from room to room and can come with you if you move home. They can be cheap and are usually fully adjustable, so you can change the height as you please.

But some people struggle with their weight and, if you're short on storage space, they can be cumbersome when they're not in use. An alternative is either a wall-mounted board, or a tabletop small ironing board.

Wall-mounted or built-in ironing boards

A wall-mounted or built-in ironing board (usually installed within a drawer or wall cabinet) can be a great space-saving option. They can be tucked away easily and should be simple to pull out and use. 

However, they're usually more expensive and will need to be installed. 

As well as being fixed in one place, wall-mounted and built-in ironing boards are fixed to a specific height. So if more than one person will be using it, you may be better with a folding board that can be adjusted.

Small ironing boards

Small ironing boards (also known as tabletop ironing boards) are light and small enough to be set up on a coffee table or kitchen surface. They take up far less storage space than a traditional ironing board - some even come with a hook so you can hang them on the back of a door or in a wardrobe. 

If you hate wrestling with a traditional ironing board, a small ironing board could be for you. They are also perfect for anyone with reduced strength or who would prefer to sit down while ironing. 

It’s worth bearing in mind the surface space is smaller, so ironing larger items will take a bit more repositioning and faff than a regular ironing board. But if you tend to iron smaller garments or don’t iron many items in one go, this probably won’t be too much of a problem. 

They can be cheap too - we tried out the £4 mini JÄLL Ikea ironing board

If you struggle with the weight of the iron or get tired during longer ironing sessions, consider a steam generator. They tend to be considerably lighter in the hand as the water tank is separate. 

Standard ironing board sizes

Ironing boards come in five standard sizes, so think about the ironing you'll be doing to determine which size you need. 

If you only tend to press shirts, a small board will do the job. However, suits and dresses will need something a little larger. If you'll be ironing sheets, a full-size board will make the task easier. 

The largest boards are 135cm long (more than 4ft 5in) and 45-49cm wide (17-19in) wide, so make sure you have enough room for this before you buy one.

Sizes available:

  • Size A: 110x30cm
  • Size B: 124x38cm
  • Size C: 124x45cm
  • Size D: 135x45cm
  • Size E: 135x49cm

Ironing board covers 

No matter what type of ironing board you have, it's important to choose a good cover. If your cover is lumpy or ill-fitting, creases will stick and ironing will be more frustrating. 

It's worth finding the exact size you need by measuring your board. Then look for a cover with elastic edges - this will keep it tight against the mesh, so you can do the job smoothly.

A good amount of padding is helpful, and the surface should be scorch resistant and non-stick. Some covers are treated with silicon to make them stain resistant, too.

A mesh board allows steam to pass through it while you’re ironing and stops moisture building up.

If you want to cut back on your ironing time, opt for a metallic cover. This reflects heat back onto your clothing, creating a hotter surface and getting rid of creases more effectively.

A good iron will also ensure you spend less time standing over your ironing board. Our tests have revealed the best irons steam and glide through your laundry in a flash, but choose a dud and you'll have to keep going over and over the same areas to shift even light creases.

Head to our best steam irons to see which can make creases disappear first time. 

Light vs heavy ironing boards

Try to check the weight of the board before buying. The lighter it is, the easier it will be to fold up and down, and stow away.

However, heavier boards are typically more stable. Some heavy-duty boards have wheels to make them easier to manage. 

If you have a steam generator, you might need a more heavy-duty board to hold the weight of the iron and keep the board stable.

How high should my ironing board be?

The top surface of the board should be level with your hip. Depending on the board, you can also lower the board right down if you prefer to iron while seated.

Not all ironing boards are adjustable, so check this before you buy.

Make sure you position your board close enough to the plug socket so the cord won’t suddenly pull as you move up and down the ironing board.

For more tips on how to make ironing easier, read our expert guide on how to iron.

How much does an ironing board cost?

Prices for ironing boards can vary a lot. While you can pick one up for less than £10, other high-spec models cost more than £200. On the whole, you'll get what you pay for, and size and quality will typically determine the cost. 

On average, a good basic board should cost around £30, but this figure will rise with more advanced features and accessories. A child lock, a heat-resistant iron rest, multiple adjustable heights, and non-slip feet will all add to the price. See our list below to determine which features you need.

When it comes to your iron, you don’t need to pay over the odds. Our expert reviews have uncovered Best Buys for less than £25. Our in-depth steam iron reviews will help you choose the best model.

Ironing board features and accessories

Iron rest

An iron rest is the metal section at the wide end of the board that is used for holding the iron when you’re not using it. 

Most ironing boards come with an iron rest as standard. 

If you have a steam generator, you will need to ensure your ironing board has a rest that is large and strong enough to hold it as they are bigger and heavier than regular irons.

Tapered tip

If you often iron trouser legs and shirt sleeves, look for an ironing board with a thin, tapered end.

Child locks

Some boards are now fitted with child locks, which will stop your board collapsing unintentionally and keep it closed when you're moving it around.

Flex guide

A flex guide is an attachment that is screwed or clipped to your ironing board to prevent the iron's cord getting caught or trailing on the floor.

Non-slip end caps

Most ironing boards should already come with these on the feet, but if not you can buy end caps separately. These are to ensure it doesn’t slip and slide when pressing garments.

Sleeve attachment

A sleeve attachment is a smaller board that can be used for sleeves, collars, pleats and other small, fiddly items.

Storage rack

If you often use ironing aids, such as those mentioned above, a board with an in-built shelf or storage unit is handy. 


Some boards come with a hanger to keep items crease-free while you finish the job.

Setting up your ironing board can be irritating enough as it is, so don’t let your iron push you over the edge.

We’ve found some brands are far more prone to developing faults than others. 

Find out more about which steam iron brands you can (and can't) rely on.