If you are building a new home from scratch, or for that matter any other building, it makes perfect sense to install underfloor heating as you go. Underfloor heating has many advantages over and above a traditional radiator system, not the least of which is the long-term running costs. There are advantages for the environment and advantages for your pocket.

In practice, there are two types of underfloor heating, either electric or water-based systems. An electric system uses either an electric heating cable or a heating mat that has a heating cable built into it. Both are very quick to install, and, indeed, cost less to install than a water-based system.

However, an electric heating system obviously uses electricity to warm your room, and unfortunately, electricity tariffs are far from economical. A water-based system of underfloor heating uses water that has been heated and which is then pumped around under the floor in a pipe system. The water can be heated by a boiler or by a ground source or air source heat pump. This is a much more economical way of heating a room and certainly is when compared with a radiator system.

Radiators heat by convection, which heats the air around and above the radiator which is then spread around the room. Unfortunately, this means that there are places in the room close to the radiators which can become too warm, while in other areas there are cold spots. A radiator system also has to be heated to a far greater temperature than an underfloor system. Our underfloor heating systems work at a maximum of 29°C, and a little less with some final flooring finishes, so are a lot cheaper to run than radiators. Furthermore, the whole of the room above is heated evenly with no cold spots, provided that you use a liquid screed to cover the heating pipes instead of old school sand and cement.

This is because a sand and cement screed is laid by a labourer on hands and knees using a trowel, and it is well-nigh impossible for him to ensure that the heating pipes are totally covered by the screed. There will always be gaps and voids where the screed doesn’t entirely cover the pipe, and the result is that the heat in the room will not be entirely even. With a liquid anhydrite screed, the heating pipes are fully enclosed simply because the screed is liquid and covers everything up.

There is another benefit to our liquid anhydrite screeds as well, and that is that they are almost twice as heat conductive as sand and cement. It follows that you need less power to achieve the same level of heat in the room, so that makes for an additional cost-saving over and above using a sand and cement screed. And, of course, those cost savings will continue for the life of the building, and the system is more environmentally friendly as well. Anything that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint has to be a good thing.

At UK Screeds, we can carry out the underfloor heating installation in Bristol for you – or anywhere else in England and Wales as it happens – using a water-based system. In most cases, the underfloor heating will be installed on top of insulation boards which are laid on the floor surface and then covered with a tanking membrane. The insulation boards will be made of something such as expanded polystyrene. Once this is installed, all vertical surfaces that will come into contact with the screed need to have a foam insulation edging strip attached in order to deal with any minor expansion of the screed as it dries.

The tanking membrane is then laid over the insulation boards and it should be taken to at least the height of the edging strips, and all joints should be overlaid by at least 100mm and taped. This prevents the screed from escaping when we pour it. The heating pipes are installed next and are screwed or stapled to the insulation boards through the tanking membrane.

We then finish off by pumping in the screed, which is agitated using a dappling bar in order to remove any air bubbles, and it can then be left to dry.