Though some homemakers like to iron on a towel-covered counter, a padded ironing board provides a much better ironing surface. Clothing or fabric is more securely draped across the board, there is more space to work, and if the item is placed at the pointed end, the iron can better press into curved areas of the fabric.
An ironing board is covered by a quilted fabric pad that is secured either by clips, elastic, or tied string to the board, so there should be no movement of this pad, making it easier to pull fabric across it.
There are three types of ironing boards: a freestanding model, a compact table board, and a wall built-in ironing board.
Freestanding Ironing Boards
A freestanding ironing board usually has a metal construction with an adjustable height mechanism, so you can set it where it is the most comfortable for you to iron clothing while standing, or if you prefer, sitting. This type of ironing board offers the best surface, especially when using a steam-generating iron. That is because the higher pressure steam penetrates the pad and through the metal mesh surface of the board.
Compact Ironing Boards
Smaller by design and with no height adjustments, a compact ironing board is handy for smaller items or where storage space is limited. A compact board can also be placed on top of a freestanding board to raise the ironing platform. Compact boards are sometimes dual-sided, offering two different sizes of ironing surfaces. They also require a padded cover.
Built-in Ironing Boards
A built-in ironing board offers convenient storage where everything is closed into its own wall-mounted recessed cabinet and stored out of sight. Installation varies with built-in ironing board models, but they often can be easily installed between wall-studding, as they have a shallow depth by design.
These built-ins may come with or without padded covers and some come with added accessories such as a hanging rack or iron plate.
Using an Ironing Pad Instead
Another type of ironing surface which appeals to many is an ironing pad. Some models are designed with magnets, so they can be draped over the dryer to provide a convenient place to iron. One could also be placed on the counter for ironing. These are ideal for those with limited storage. It really depends on what you prefer and getting used to a particular type of ironing surface.
Garment Steamer Vs. Iron
A garment steamer or press does not require the use of an ironing board. Neither does a garment press. A steamer takes the wrinkles out of fabric without making contact with the fabric. In many cases, steamers work faster than irons. Handheld garment steamers are preferred to irons when it comes to convenience; they are lightweight, require little space, and the risk of burning the item of clothing is reduced significantly. The biggest disadvantage of a steamer is that creases cannot be pressed into fabrics. Also, items that cannot be washed in hot water, like wool, cannot be steam pressed.