Prepping up for Underfloor Heating

May 2015
Underfloor heating can be adapted to most houses and floor types.

Underfloor heating can be adapted to most houses and floor types.

Underfloor Heating, a concept first used by the Romans, has an increasing number of takers today, and for very good reasons. In modern homes where energy efficiency, comfort and clean lines figure high on the priority list, underfloor heating ticks all the right boxes. Unlike the traditional gas and electric heating systems, underfloor heating turns the entire floor into a gentle radiant heat emitter, doing away with the space-eating wall mounted radiators.

Warm water circulated through a continuous loop of pipes (water-based underfloor heating) or electric mats or cables (electric underfloor heating) installed under the flooring generates heat which is radiated through the floors, providing an even temperature throughout the rooms. But the choice of underfloor heating depends largely on the type of building construction, floor types and insulation level of the building.

What is your floor finish?

While installing under floor heating, it is important that you chose the right system for your floor type. UFH (dry) is perfect for solid floors like tiles, stone, ceramic, slate and terracotta as they have high thermal conductivity and provide a good heat output.

It is also suitable for high quality laminate flooring and carpets, though the heat output might be slightly lower for carpets owing to thick underlay. But it generally works well with carpets with a tog rating of less than 2.5. Customized UFH systems are also available for several vinyl and laminate floor types. If you have timber flooring, it is good to speak to your installer to make sure it is specifically recommended for UFH use, as the safe temperature limit is 27˚Celsius for timber flooring.

The heat-up time is normally higher for thicker floors as they take longer to reach the optimum temperature. Once this optimum temperature is reached, the heat quality remains the same for the thick and thinner floors alike.

The Building Type: Old Build or New?

Under Floor Heating systems can be added to a building under construction or retrofitted to older homes. However wet under floor heating systems are better suited for new building constructions, extensions and major renovations. This is because the wet systems work best while embedded in screed, and it is easier to accommodate the entire construction in the building work. But that does not mean wet systems can be completely ruled out for older buildings. New micro-pipe UFH systems are now available which are easy to install, and do not require much disruption.

Electric UFH systems are ideal for existing floors and single room installations as they are flatter than the wet underfloor heating system, and do not require much alteration in floor height. As they are laid directly under the floor covering, and not linked to the central heating system, the installation process is easier when done for older builds.

Floor Height

Laying wet UFH could see the floor height raised by a good 100mm, with several extra layers added on in the form of insulation, screed and pipework. It is important that extra allowance is made to accommodate the change in floor level.

Insulation and Screed

UFH ComparisonThe insulation and screed works together with the floor covering to determine the heat-up time of the UFH. A good layer of insulation prevents downward heat loss, speeds up heating and improves the energy efficiency. For wet underfloor heating, the pipes are usually buried in the screed and for dry UFH the cables are laid on top of the screed. A good screed doubles up as a conducting medium and as a heat sink, retaining the heat for several hours.

For a free UFH quote please call our expert HomeScreed team on 0845 500 4055.