How to Choose Paper Towel & Napkin Holders

Paper towels and napkin holders are essential in a kitchen setting as they help you keep your hands clean while cooking. If you want to make sure that you purchase the good kind out of all the choices you have, we’ll take you through everything that you need to consider in order to make an informed buying decision.

Paper Towel & Napkin Holders: What is the Difference?

Although both are essential items to improve the organization and function of your home or commercial kitchen or bathroom, there are a few differences between paper towel and napkin holders that impact which one you buy.

Paper Towel Holders

Paper towel holders are designed for dispensing hand towels for use in the kitchen or bathroom. They typically feature a central roller to allow easy and fast paper towel distribution but can also come as folded dispensers which minimize paper waste by dispensing a single towel at a time.

Copper Iron Geometric Paper Towel Holder
Iron Free Standing Paper Towel Holder
Pine Wood Rustic Wall Mounted Paper Towel Holder

Napkin Holders

Napkin holders are primarily used in the kitchen or dining room to store and organize paper napkins. They usually come in a standing or basket design to contain the napkins with basket-style featuring a weight or stopper to keep the napkins from flying away.

Gray Metal Wood Standing Napkin Holder
Black Cast Iron Napkin Holder
Silver Stainless Steel Wood Standing Napkin Holder
Brown Coated Steel Metal Napkin Holder
Black Galvanized Metal Napkin Holder
Antique Black Iron Standing Napkin Holder

What are the Different Types of Paper Towel Holders?

It is essential to consider the type of paper towel you are using to find the perfect paper towel holder for your home or business. While each type has its benefits, some holders are designed for certain types of towel. The most popular kinds of paper towel holders include:


Countertop paper towel holders are ideally suited for home use as they feature a central post that allows for quick dispensation to manage messes in the kitchen or bathroom. They are designed to accommodate rolls of perforated paper towels, and the slim design fits neatly on any kitchen counter. Look for a countertop holder with a round weighted base with a non-slip grip underneath for better stability in wet areas.


There are two types of mounted paper towel holders: surface and wall mounted units. Surface-mounted holders are used for more accurate dispensation of paper towels, while wall-mounted units are designed to dispense single folded paper towels. They are the perfect choice for restaurants and healthcare facilities but can also be a great way to maximize your counter space at home.


Folded towel holders conveniently dispense a single paper towel at a time to reduce waste. They are usually mounted to the wall and come in a variety of dispensing mechanisms to accommodate different sizes of paper towels. They are appropriate for commercial bathrooms and kitchens.

Combination Dispenser and Trash Can

Combination paper towel holders and trash cans are designed to create a more hygienic environment by dispensing paper towels and collecting waste. This holder is a great way to save space and promotes better sanitation for bathrooms in hospitality venues.

Satin Nickel Stainless Steel Wall Under Cabinet Mounted Paper Towel Holder
Polished Copper Metal Paper Free Standing Countertop Paper Towel Holder

What are the Different Styles of Napkin Holders?

Napkin holders are necessary for promoting better organization in your kitchen and dining area. But some styles of napkin holders are more suitable for different dispensation and organization needs. Some popular forms of napkin holders include:


Stand napkin holders have a folded design that allows the napkins to be placed inside vertically. This style of holder does not need a weight to keep the napkins in place and offers a great space-saving option for small dining tables.

Over-loading a stand napkin holder can make it difficult to dispense a single napkin without pulling out the rest. However, this style of napkin holder does allow you some creativity when it comes to folding and presenting your napkins to guests.


Basket napkins are a square open-topped box that is great for everyday use or when entertaining. Some models feature a weighted arm that rests on top of the stack of napkins to prevent the napkins from flying away and to enable easier dispensing.


Box napkin holders contain and protect your napkins from dust and debris in the kitchen. They are ideally suited for restaurant tables as they allow guests to dispense single napkins to save on paper waste. They are also an excellent choice for the bathroom as the ornate box can hide plain napkins and elevate the style of your bathroom counter.


Multipurpose napkin holders typically combine a napkin dispenser with compartments for salt and pepper shakers and cutlery storage. They are perfect for keeping dining table accessories organized. They make an excellent choice for everyday use at home or restaurant dining tables.

White Natural Marble Iron Base Standing Napkin Holder
Red Metal Box Standing Napkin Holder
Satin Nickel Powder Stainless Steel Napkin Holder
Black Iron Standing Napkin Holder

Which Material Should I Choose for a Paper Towel or Napkin Holder?

Paper towel and napkin holders are made from a diverse range of materials. Different materials offer various levels of style, durability, and function, so choose a holder made from a material that fits your organizational needs, and also coordinates with the décor. Some of the most common materials used for paper towel and napkin holders include:


Wood paper towel and napkins holders offer a durable and stylish solution for storing napkins and towels. Primarily used for countertop and box holder designs, wooden holders in a natural finish can add a touch of country style charm to any kitchen. Try a holder of wood mixed with marble or metal for a chic modern take on a traditional style.

For holders in kitchens or bathrooms, ensure the wood is coated with a food-safe sealant such as oil or beeswax to prevent mold growth if the unit gets wet.


Metal paper towel and napkins holders work well in formal and casual settings. Often constructed from wrought iron or stainless steel to prevent corrosion, metal holders are the most versatile in terms of design.

Choose a standing napkin holder with ornate scrollwork for a traditional style kitchen. A sleek chrome-colored standing paper towel holder with a geometric style base blends seamlessly with a Scandi or modern-urban style kitchen. Match the finish of the metal napkin holder to your silverware to uplift your everyday dining experience.


For a low maintenance option that can be used indoors and out, try acrylic plastic napkin holders. They come in a range of different colors and designs. Acrylic is naturally scratch-resistant and clear, so it makes an excellent option for showing off decorative napkins or for high use applications such as restaurants and commercial bathrooms.


Glass or crystal is stylish material that is often used for napkin holders rather than paper towel dispensers. The luxurious design of a glass holder is perfect for a formal dining area and ideal for use on a special occasion. They are also well suited to hotel dining areas and fine dining establishments.

Match your napkin holder to your dining room furniture for effortless styling. Traditional style homes suit faceted or elaborately crafted pieces, while glass napkin holders with simple, clean lines look best in a modern home.


Although not recommended for paper towel holders due to their fragility, ceramic can be a tasteful option as a napkin holder. Porcelain and ceramic holders add a subtle textural element to your kitchen décor. However, they should be kept away from damp areas as the unglazed base of the holder is porous and absorbs water.

Opt for elaborate glazed styles with animal motifs for a farmhouse country kitchen. Use a pristine white ceramic holder with a gentle textured pattern for contemporary and Scandi style.


Marble is an excellent material for free-standing countertop paper towel, and napkin holders as the weight of the stone provides stability to the structure of the unit. With repeated exposure to water, marble can develop stains, so keep it away from kitchen and bathroom sinks, and wipe up spills immediately to keep your marble holder looking new.

Marble combines perfectly with modern and classical designs, making marble holders the ideal choice for a transitional home. The interesting patterns naturally occurring in the marble also make them an excellent choice for minimal, Scandi, and boho homes.

Ceramic Wood Hand Painted Free Standing Paper Towel Holder
Brown Iron Paper Towel Holder
Beige Bamboo Free Standing Paper Towel Holder

Quick Tips

  • Choose a paper towel holder for the kitchen and bathroom, and keep napkins organized on the dining table with a napkin holder.

  • For small kitchens, choose a wall-mounted holder to save space. If you have ample counter space, choose a heavy free-standing or surface mounted holder for added stability.

  • Holder materials vary in durability and can elevate the style of your dining area.

  • Choose plastic, metal, and wood for low-maintenance everyday organization.

  • Glass and ceramic holders are ideal for formal entertaining.

  • Coordinate the style of your napkin holder with your silverware, and the style of your paper towel holder with your kitchen furniture.

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