When you have underfloor heating, the good news is that it can be used in conjunction with almost any type of floor surface. The best type of flooring is one which has a high thermal conductivity because this will allow the floor to heat up faster, give better heat output, and run more efficiently.
Without doubt, the best type of flooring to use with underfloor heating is tile or stone. They have very high thermal conductivity which means that the heat transfers quickly to the floor surface. They both also retain the heat well, which makes the system more effective. Tile and stone can be heated up to 29°C or more.
Although tile and stone are usually thought of as flooring for bathrooms and kitchens, they can be used in any room that you wish, and they are particularly good in combination with underfloor heating in areas of high heat loss such as conservatories.
Tile and stone both heat up quickly and then keep the heat, making the floor warm but using less energy to do so. This keeps running costs to the minimum, and certainly far less than a radiator system because the floor heating provides much faster heating time than a radiator and runs at lower temperatures, and yet produces the same amount of heat in the room.
Of course, there are other things that affect the running costs of underfloor heating, and these will include the design of your home, whether or not it is fully insulated, the energy tariff that you are on, and the way in which you control and/or monitor the heating.
Many homes have wood flooring and there are different types of wood that can be used. The best type of wood for use in conjunction with underfloor heating is engineered wood as it works well with changes in the floor temperature. You can use other types of wood as well, but the thinner and more dense that it is the better because it will conduct heat faster. Thicker and softer wood can actually act as an insulator which is not what is wanted. As a general rule, the floor temperature should not be greater than 27°C. This is warm enough to heat the room comfortably, but not so hot that it could damage the wood.
Engineered wood is manufactured to give the look and feel of real wood and is ideal for use with underfloor heating. Real, solid wood can vary in density and also moisture content, and it is more expensive than engineered wood as well. Natural wood floorboards are often used when refurbishing a home because they have been there for a long time. They need to be used in conjunction with insulation boards in order to give of their best.
Polished concrete is becoming more popular for flooring these days, and in a similar way to tile and stone it heats up rapidly and retains the heat well. Polished concrete is extremely hard-wearing and is very easy to clean. It also gives a home a modern and contemporary look.
Vinyl is another type of flooring which can be used in conjunction with underfloor heating, but in much the same way as wood, it must not be heated to greater than 27°C. Vinyl heats up very quickly, but it does not retain heat, so it cools quickly as well. The manufacturer may state that the vinyl needs to be used in conjunction with an underlay, and if this is the case, the underlay must be a maximum of 6mm thick and also breathable so that it does not block the heat.
Much the same is true of carpet. Whether using an underlay or not, the overall tog of carpet and underlay must not be greater than 1.5 tog, and a felt underlay must not be used. Ideally, the carpet should have hessian backing.
When installing underfloor heating it needs to be covered using a screed, and at UK Screeds we can help you if you need to hire liquid screed services in Northampton as we have a local office here. Liquid screed is by far the best option for a screed in conjunction with underfloor heating because it totally encloses the heating pipes and has almost double the thermal conductivity properties of a traditional sand and cement screed.