Today, more and more new build homes and other buildings are being constructed with underfloor heating because of the many advantages over using a radiator system. Not the least of the considerations is that underfloor heating uses less energy than a radiator system, and the room is heated evenly.
When you have radiators, the air around the radiator is heated and that heat goes upwards towards the ceiling. The air then circulates around the room and this means that the room is not heated evenly, so there are parts of the room that are not as warm as others. This may mean that the radiator gets turned up higher and in turn uses more energy. At the same time, the spot next to the radiator may then become too hot. This can also be dangerous if you have young children in the house as they may touch the radiators and hurt themselves. In addition, if the room becomes uncomfortably hot in some areas, the window may be opened to cool it, and this means that the energy used for heating goes, literally, out of the window!
Furthermore, as the radiator circulates air around the room it carries dust with it. With underfloor heating, this does not happen. The room is, or should be, heated perfectly evenly, and underfloor heating uses less energy to heat the room than a radiator system. Depending upon the type of flooring that is used, even less energy may be required, because if you have something such as tiles, they will retain the heat and gently release it. In addition, if a ground-source or air-source heat pump is used there is only a very little electricity required to power the system.
Whatever type of flooring is going to be installed, it needs to be laid on to a surface that is as level as possible, and this is achieved by using a screed. At UK Screeds, we use liquid power screed in Oxfordshire, and anywhere else, because of the many advantages that it has over traditional sand and cement screed, especially when it is used in conjunction with underfloor heating.
Just to begin with, we can lay a liquid gypsum screed far faster than you could ever lay sand and cement which is trowelled on by hand. With our liquid screeds, they are pre-mixed and delivered to site where we pour them into position using a long hose and a pump. Doing this, we can lay 100 square metres in as little as 45 minutes, and as much as 2,000 square metres in a full day. This has been calculated to be up to 20 times as fast as laying sand and cement. Not only that, but the screed will be dry enough to walk on in 24 – 48 hours, so it means that other contractors can continue to work without delays.
Of course, the screed must be totally dry before the final flooring is fitted, and another advantage of our liquid screeds is that they can be force dried. Screed drying times can be a major hold-up for contractors and can cause delays which can mean that contracts over-run and then penalty clauses can mean that there are huge costs involved.
Typical drying times for liquid screed are given as 60 days for a 50mm screed. However, this assumes a steady temperature of 20°C and 60% relative humidity, which is unlikely to be achieved in the British climate and means that the 60-day period could, in fact, be as much as 90 days.
However, using the correct force drying techniques means that the drying and commissioning period could come down to as little as four weeks, which is a considerable time-saving. True, force drying is often used as an afterthought when it becomes clear that in reality the British climate doesn’t actually allow the quoted drying times to be achieved, but a smart specifier will include force drying so that the overall construction time can be forecast with much greater accuracy. Force drying is suitable for our liquid gypsum screeds as they do not curl and need no reinforcement. In addition, shrinkage is very low, and this means that large bays can be laid without fear of cracking.