More and more people today who are having a new home built, or who may be homebuilders, are opting to install underfloor heating, and with good reason.

Back in the day, underfloor heating was thought to be only for high-end properties, but today the benefits are such that it is being installed even in affordable homes. One of the obvious benefits is that underfloor heating produces even heat throughout the room. Radiators heat the air nearest to them and the heat goes up to the ceiling and then circulates around the room. This means that sitting next to the radiator is hot, but there may well be cold spots in the middle of the room.

Radiators also circulate dust around the room whereas underfloor heating does not. So underfloor heating has benefits for any people suffering from allergies or breathing difficulties.

Possibly one of the biggest benefits of underfloor heating is that it costs less to run than a radiator system. It can be set at a lower temperature to gently warm up the room and the heat obviously rises through the floor and the finished floor surface, only losing about 2°C when it reaches head height. Radiators need to be heated to between 65°C and 75°C, whereas underfloor heating can be heated to 29°C, obviously using a lot less energy. Furthermore, underfloor heating can be connected to a ground-source or air-source heat pump, so consuming very little in the way of electrical energy.

There are also benefits if you have young children in the home, because there is no danger of them touching a hot radiator. On top of that, there is also the advantage that you do not have radiators taking up space within the room: underfloor heating can save as much as 10% of space.

Underfloor heating will need to be covered with a screed and traditionally this has been a sand and cement screed in Surrey – and elsewhere. However, there are certain disadvantages to a traditional screed, not the least of which is that it is very difficult to get it to cover the heating pipes and totally enclose them when installing water-based underfloor heating. At UK Screeds we use a liquid anhydrite screed, and because it is a flowing screed it will automatically totally cover the heating pipes, so this means that the heat in the room will be even because there are no gaps or voids. In addition, anhydrite screed has a thermal conductivity nearly twice that of sand and cement. Not only that, but our screed can be laid far thinner than traditional screed, so this again saves on energy usage.

Many people wonder if you can use a particular type of final floor finish with underfloor heating, and the fact is that you can install any flooring that you want. One of the best floor surfaces from the point of view of energy saving is tile or stone. This is because both have high thermal conductivity so heat up quickly using less energy. They also retain the heat well which again adds to the energy saving. As a result, they are ideal for areas of high heat loss such as in a conservatory.

Wood is another flooring surface that can work with underfloor heating. The best type of wood is an engineered timber which works well, but other wood flooring can also be used. It is necessary to pay attention to the thickness of softer and less dense wood so that it does not act as an insulator and block the heat. The more dense and thin the floorboards are, the better they work with underfloor heating.

You can also use carpet, of course, but the material or underlay must also not act as an insulator. In order for the system to provide sufficient heat, the overall tog of carpet and underlay must not be greater than 1.5 tog.

Vinyl flooring can be used, but it heats up and cools down quickly, and the floor temperature must not exceed 27°C, so vinyl is not suitable for high heat loss areas.

Laminate is another common flooring, and again it is necessary to ensure thermal conductivity. As with wood, the denser and thinner the laminate is, the better the heat conductivity into the room.