When you are building a new home there are many different things to take into consideration. One of these is the method of heating it. For hundreds of years, homes were heated using fires, and indeed this was the case for many homes up until the 1960’s and beyond.

First, we had fireplaces, then came Courtier stoves which produced an enormous amount of heat burning coal and/or logs. Then central heating began to take over, and for the next 20 or 30 years a log fire became something of a talking point. You would have central heating, and a log fire in winter for the sheer pleasure of watching the flames roaring away. Something to impress your friends when they came to dinner. Often, it was necessary to move further away from the fireplace as the fire became so hot!

However, today we have a new form of heating. Well, not so new actually, since it has been in use since Roman times or earlier. It is underfloor heating. Back in the day, those Romans had channels in the floors of their homes which were covered with stones and heated from a strategically placed fire. They knew a thing or two, those Romans.

However, that form of underfloor heating died out, but today is making a big comeback in the form of electric or water-based underfloor heating.

What’s the difference? Underfloor heating in Oxfordshire, or anywhere else, can be powered either by an electric heating cable or heating mat which is simply unrolled and laid on the substrate flooring. Alternatively, there can be heating pipes laid on the substrate – or on insulation if it is being fitted – and these have water running through them which is heated by a heating source. This could be electricity, a boiler, or might be an air-source or ground-source heat pump.

Of course, you can’t lay the final flooring on top of a heating mat or cable, and still less on top of water pipes. So you need a screed to cover the heating pipes or cables, and this is where a liquid screed has so many advantages over the traditional sand and cement screed.

Sand and cement has to be mixed on site, or delivered ready-mixed, and is then laid by a man on hands and knees using a trowel. This presents certain problems, not the least of which is that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that the heating pipes – where water-based heating is used – are completely covered by the screed. What happens is that there will be air pockets where the screed doesn’t touch the heating pipes and this will affect the transference of heat into the room.

The next thing is that the sand and cement screed has to be laid fairly thickly and that also affects the speed of heat transfer and getting the room up to the desired temperature.

On the other hand, when we are installing underfloor heating in a building, at UK Screeds Ltd we use a liquid screed instead of sand and cement. This has many benefits over and above sand and cement, including the fact that the material itself – which includes gypsum instead of cement – has heat transference properties which are nearly double that of sand and cement.

In addition, the liquid screed doesn’t leave any air pockets around the heating pipes. This is because it is a liquid and so it flows into every crevice and completely covers the heating pipes. Add to that the fact that our liquid screed does not need to be laid as thickly as a sand and cement screed, and only needs to cover the heating pipes to a depth of 30 mm which is incredibly thin by comparison. So there is less material that needs to be heated, again bringing the room up to the required heat level faster, and at the same time using less energy with which to do it, so there is money-saving as well.

Additional benefits of our liquid screed are that we can lay it up to 20 times as fast as a sand and cement screed can be laid, and it will be dry enough to walk on in 48 hours or less, so doesn’t hold up other contractors who need to work on-site.