Towel Bar vs. Towel Hooks

When designing or remodeling a bathroom, one small but important decision is how to hang and store towels.

Towel Bar vs. Towel Hooks

The two main options are towel bars and towel hooks.

Both have advantages and disadvantages regarding space, drying ability, convenience, aesthetics and more.

Towel Bars

Towel bars are long horizontal fixtures mounted on the wall that allow you to neatly drape full-sized bath towels over them. They come in a variety of widths, commonly 18-24 inches wide. This provides enough space for 1-2 rolled or folded towels.

Benefits of Towel Bars

Some key benefits of towel bars include:

  • Maximize drying: Towels can be fully spread out along the bar, allowing for quick drying compared to bunched up on a hook. This prevents mold/mildew growth.
  • Neat appearance: Bars keep towels neatly folded/draped for a tidy look. Great for guest baths.
  • Styling options: Available in almost any style from modern chrome to rustic wood to match your decor.
  • Heated options: Electrically heated bars keep towels warm and dry.
  • Different sizes: Bars come in larger widths like 30” to hold multiple towels.

Key Takeaway: Towel bars allow towels to dry out faster by keeping them spread open, preventing moisture buildup.

Downsides of Towel Bars

Some potential downsides of towel bars include:

  • Take up more wall space than hooks. Require folding towels to fit.
  • Can seem formal – not as casual as hooks.
  • Provide ideal bacteria breeding ground if not cleaned regularly.
  • Limit number of towels that can be hung.

Ideal Uses for Towel Bars

Towel bars work best in these bathroom situations:

  • Guest bathrooms: Keep neatly folded towels ready for visitors
  • Classic style: Complement traditional decor like Victorian or cottage
  • Large open bathrooms: Makes use of ample wall space
  • Fast drying needed: In damp climates or shared households
  • Heated towel racks: Higher-end feature for luxury
  • Multiple users: Ensure all housemates/family can hang a towel

Towel Hooks

Towel hooks provide a simple way to hang towels by piercing them on the hook tip. They tend to be smaller than bars and can be mounted in more flexible arrangements.

Advantages of Towel Hooks

Some of the major pros of using towel hooks include:

  • Take up less space on walls or doors
  • Allow for more flexible positioning like on doors/cabinets
  • Give a casual simplicity compared to orderly bars
  • No towel folding needed – just hang over hook
  • Inexpensive and easy to install yourself
  • Can buy removable options like over-door hooks
  • Work well for odd-shaped towels like bath sheets

Drawbacks of Towel Hooks

Some of the disadvantages or complaints about towel hooks include:

  • Towels may take longer to dry bunched up
  • Provide no warming like heated bars
  • Limited in number – only 1 towel per hook
  • Can cause small holes punctured in towels
  • Towels can slip off if loose on hook

Key Takeaway: The main tradeoff with towel hooks is they take up less space but can impede drying compared to spread on bars.

Best Situations for Using Towel Hooks

Here are some of the top scenarios where towel hooks really shine:

  • Smaller bathrooms: Save precious room with space-saving hooks
  • Shared households: Allows more people to hang towels
  • Apartments/rentals: Easily install over-door removable hooks
  • Contemporary style: Sleek hooks fit modern, minimalist look
  • Near shower: Hang towel within arm’s reach for convenience
  • Odd-shaped large towels: Fit better on hooks than bars

Comparison Chart: Towel Bars vs. Hooks

Here is a helpful comparison chart summarizing the key differences:

FactorTowel BarsTowel Hooks
Space UsageModerateVery little
AppearanceNeat, tidyCasual
ConvenienceNeed foldingJust hang up
Flexible PositioningFixed spotsYes, doors/cabinets
Luxury OptionsHeated barsNo
Number of Towels2-41 per hook

Popular Styles and Finishes

Towel bars and hooks come in a wide variety of materials and finishes to match any style of bathroom decor. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Metal: Chrome, stainless steel, brass, bronze
  • Wood: Teak, mahogany, oak, walnut
  • Stone: Marble, granite, slate
  • Ceramic/Porcelain
  • Glass/Crystal

They can range from very sleek modern looks to ornate vintage styles. For a cohesive look, choose bars or hooks that coordinate with your faucets, scones and other hardware. Or make a bold statement with an eclectic accent piece.

Towel Rings and Towel Racks

In addition to basic hooks and bars, there are two other common towel holders to consider:

  • Towel rings are round bars best suited to hold smaller hand towels near the sink.
  • Towel racks contain multiple rungs or shelves to hold many towels. Free-standing racks provide flexible storage solutions.

These can both help maximize storage for households needing to accommodate lots of towels. Rings keep hand towels handy by sinks without taking up counter space. While racks help organize multiple towels in one space.

Design Tips

Here are some useful tips when integrating towel bars or hooks into your bathroom:

  • Place towel hooks or small bars conveniently near showers and tubs within arm’s reach.
  • Focus bars and hooks around planned locations for drying off rather than scattered randomly.
  • Make sure there are enough to accommodate family members or frequent guests.
  • Incorporate a hand towel ring by the sink area.
  • Look for heated bars or hooks near HVAC vents to aid drying.
  • Match style and finishes with other hardware for a pulled-together look.
  • If drilling through tile, make sure there is sufficient wall depth and structural backing.

Key Takeaway: Strategically position bars and hooks around where towels will be used rather than decorative designing.

Towel Holder Ideas

Beyond basic hooks and bars, there are lots of unique ways to creatively hang towels with storage solutions like:

  • Coat trees
  • Ladder racks
  • Wall shelves
  • Freestanding racks
  • Over-cabinet hooks
  • Plumbing pipe racks
  • Ladder towel racks give a fun, decorative way to display rows of rolled towels.

If short on space, be sure to take advantage of the back of doors to hang hooks and racks for extra storage.

Get creative mixing materials like antiqued wood shelves above industrial pipe rails for an eclectic accent. The options are endless to show off your personal style!


What is better in small bathrooms?

For small baths, hooks are likely the better choice to save space since they easily mount on walls or behind doors. Mini bars around 16-18” can work but allow 1 towel.

Which will make my towels smell better?

Bars allow more airflow to thoroughly dry towels. Bunched hooks trap moisture longer nurturing bacteria causing more odors. But with regular washing, either can be fine.

Are hooks or bars easier to install?

Basic hooks and bars both easily screw into walls with simple tools. Hooks offer more flexibility to place on cabinets or doors. Bars need adequate anchoring into studs or drywall anchors.

Can I use both hooks and bars?

Absolutely! Having both hooks nearby showers and a bar or two to neatly fold larger bath sheets is a great combination. Rings to hold hand towels also supplement storage.

What finish options look best?

Match finishes like nickel or chrome with your other hardware for consistency. Or make a statement with black wrought iron hooks on subway tiled walls for contrast. Get creative mixing materials!


When deciding between installing towel bars, towel hooks or a combination, consider your space limitations, bathroom aesthetics, number of towels needed, drying concerns and convenience.

Towel bars allow better drying from their widespread horizontal shape. But towel hooks are more versatile in small spaces and removing moisture isn’t an issue with regular laundry.

If having neatly presented towels for guests and faster drying is key, bars may be the way to go. But if you need to maximize space and convenience, hooks check those boxes. Many bathrooms incorporate a flexible solution using both!

Towels Edition
Towels Edition