If you are considering installing underfloor heating in our home, whether it is a new build or a retrofit, the good news is that you can use pretty much any type of floor finish that you wish. Wood, carpet, vinyl, tile, stone, laminate, even concrete if you wish. However, there are a few things that you need to take into consideration, and these will vary according to the type of flooring finish that you want.
Without a doubt, tile or some type of stone such as marble, granite, quartz, and so on, are the best when it comes to transmission and storage of heat. One of the reasons that you choose underfloor heating is to save money on the heating bills of your home, although that is not the only consideration.
There is also the fact that underfloor heating produces radiant heat and warms the room from the floor upwards, with the heat being the same wherever you happen to be in the room. When you use a radiator system, it heats by convection: in other words, it heats the air around the radiator which then rises towards the ceiling and is distributed around the room, but not evenly. That means that some areas are warmer or colder than others, so where one person might be comfortable, someone in another part of the room where it is cooler may not be. With an underfloor heating system, all parts of the room are at the same temperature.
If you use tile or stone flooring, they both have a high thermal conductivity which means that the heat from your underfloor heating transfers into the room quickly, so it takes less energy to warm the room to the desired temperature. Both also store heat well, so they are highly desirable in areas of high heat loss such as a conservatory as they will retain heat for longer and use less energy to do so. Controlling the heat with a thermostat means that your room is warm when you want it to be and is using no energy when you are not there.
Tile and stone are perfect for kitchens and bathrooms, not only because of their heat properties but because they can cope with dampness and spills easily. A quick mop over is all that they need. In the bathroom, when you step out of the shower with wet feet, the tiles will very quickly dry off.
Of course, many people like wood floors, and in this instance the best type of wood to use is engineered wood. It reacts well to changes in floor temperature. You can also use other types of wood, but you need to consider the density. If you use softwood it can act as an insulator, so the floorboards need to be as thin as practically possible in order to avoid this. Furthermore, the maximum temperature for wood flooring is no greater than 27°C. The general rule is that the thinner and denser the wood is, the better it is for use with underfloor heating.
You may also have wood floors and want to cover them with carpet, and that’s fine as long as the carpet doesn’t act as an insulator. So, you have to consider the wood itself and then the carpet. If you are using an underlay, it must not be of felt. The underlay needs to have low thermal resistance, and the carpet backing should be hessian. Everything above the heating system – the wood, underlay, and carpet, must not exceed 1.5 togs in total, otherwise, it will interfere with the heating system.
Other possibilities for your floor surface are vinyl, laminate, and even concrete, but whatever type of flooring you choose, you need to consider the heat transfer qualities.
You also need to ensure that the flooring is as flat and level as possible, and this is particularly so in the case of tiling or stone. We can take care of this for you at UK Screeds with our floor preparation services in Essex. Not only can we provide you with the necessary screed installation, but we can also install your underfloor heating for you. We use a water-based underfloor heating system, as it gives you the best heat transfer when combined with our liquid anhydrite screed so that your heating bills will remain at the lowest possible level.