5 things you should know BEFORE installing underfloor heating

Aerial view of a sofa on a wooden floor

Wave goodbye to radiators and hello to more space and a warm home for less! Underfloor heating is a great choice and if you’re thinking of taking the leap to luxurious warm floors, these are the five things you need to know…

#1 It provides a constant temperature across the home or in individual rooms

Feet in orange & blue spotted socks on a wooden floor

The great thing about underfloor heating is its flexibility. Therefore, it sometimes pays to spend the extra money to get a professional supplier and installation company to not only fit the system but design it for you in the first place.

With central heating, the boiler fires up and sends heat through to all the radiators on the system, unless you switch the radiators off in certain rooms (if you can) or lower the temperature of the radiator with its thermostatic valve.

This gives you some flexibility, but not a lot. Underfloor heating is completely different. You can create single zone underfloor heating areas so that the important rooms in the house are heated when you need them to be but other rooms can enjoy a lower level of heat.

The ability to control your heating at every point of day and night means you save money as well as having a more comfortably heated home.

#2 It’s best fitted with high thermal conductivity flooring

Child playing with a toy digger on a wooden floor

Sounds a mouthful, doesn’t it?! But what does it mean?

It means to get the best from your underfloor heating system, you need a top layer of flooring that’s incredibly efficient in grabbing hold of the heat and keeping hold of it.

This means the system doesn’t need to work as hard. There are many flooring options – wood, laminate, ceramic tile, polished concrete and carpet – that work well with underfloor heating.

It’s true to say that some options work better than others. Polished concrete floors are a great conductor and retainer of heat. Ceramic tiles also work well and some wood flooring solutions are also a great fit.

It’s possible to use carpet but it must be of a low TOG rating to allow heat through it and into the room. However, even then, it’s not so great at hanging on to the heat.

#3 A smart thermostat adds more flexibility & sophistication

Nest smart thermostat

Although we think of underfloor heating as a modern invention, it’s been around for some time. The Romans used ‘fire under the floor’ to heat their bath houses.

Modern day underfloor heating is more sophisticated and flexible but to get even more out of the system, a smart thermostat is a must.

If you have a multi-zone system, you can set different temperatures in different rooms with a few taps of your smart phone – and alter it throughout the day.

Underfloor heating response time is slower than the boiler and radiator approach but that doesn’t mean it’s at a disadvantage. It just means that you plan your heating to fit with your activities from day to day. For that, you need the tools to set the heat of the system as and when.

#4 Correct installation is key

High-gloss kitchen floor
That’s why getting a professional and expert in all thing underfloor heating should install your system, even if they don’t design it.

Wet or water underfloor heating works by a series of pipe loops being laid in the sub floor and hot water circulating through them to heat the floor.

It’s an incredibly simple, yet effective system. But, this doesn’t mean that things can’t go wrong when it’s being installed. Discovering that you have a leaking pipe when you’ve already laid the floor isn’t the opportune time to try and repair it.

All wet underfloor heating systems should be pressure tested BEFORE you start pouring high conductivity screed or laying insulation boards to protect the pipes. Once laid, the system will function without a hitch for years to come.

#5 Underfloor heating is a system that you’ll love!

Kitchen diner with wooden floorboard floor

Underfloor heating isn’t for everyone. If you like dry, hot heat that leaves your house stuffy, then underfloor heating isn’t for you.

If you prefer an ambient, constant temperature, as well as a luxuriously warm floor underfoot, then underfloor heating is for you.

However, you’ll need to have some patience. With some installation processes, the screed must dry thoroughly before the heat can be switched on because if you dry out liquid concrete too quickly it cracks. That means the floor isn’t as structurally sound as it should be, leading to problems further down the line. In other words, you may have to wait a week or two before the big switch on.

Underfloor heating suits any property and isn’t as expensive to fit as you’d think either. A proven technology, more and more people are realising the benefits of underfloor heating – why not you?

Underfloor Heating Trade Supplies understands the simplicity of underfloor heating but the amazing benefits it brings to any space, from a single room in a home to multi-zone systems in commercial premises.

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10 common underfloor heating questions answered

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lounge area with poured resin floor with underfloor heating

Image credit: Resin Floors North East

Underfloor heating can leave many people puzzled when it comes to ascertaining how they work and how they can benefit those who have them installed. Here we’ve taken the 10 most common questions concerning underfloor heating and provided the answers:

'How Underfloor Heating Works' diagram

  1. What are my options when it comes to underfloor heating?

There are two types of underfloor heating available, electric and wet. Electric underfloor heating consists of heat mats, packed with electric wires that warm up once connected to the mains electric supply and thermostat.

barn conversion loft bedroom with wood floor and underfloor heatingImage credit: William Beard Flooring

Wet underfloor heating utilises plastic pipes under the floor that heat up using warm water from the central heating system.

L-shaped sofa in front of a fire with Indian stone tiles with underfloor heatingImage credit: Llama Developments

  1. Where can I buy underfloor heating?

Your local DIY store probably stocks underfloor heating kits that you can pick up off the shelf, but we recommend that you speak to an expert, such as The Underfloor Heating Store and visit their showroom to witness the benefits of such a system for yourself.

kitchen underfloor heating

  1. How much does underfloor heating cost to install?

Prices vary depending on whether you opt for an electric or a wet system, but you can buy electric heat mat kits from £74.99 or a wet underfloor kit from £239.99. Then there’s the cost of installation, tools and labour for electricians and plumbers: put aside £400 as a starting point.

Tiled floor with underfloor heating in a bathroomImage credit: VIP Plumbing & Heating

  1. How much does underfloor heating cost to run?

This varies on the size of the room and the system used, but you are looking at an average cost of £248 per year, based on 25m underfloor heating running for four hours everyday for a year.

Bedrom with grey walls, tall feature window and wooden floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: Architecture Live

  1. Which underfloor heating system is best?

Both systems can heat the room to the same temperature. However, bear in mind that a wet system is cheaper to run than an electric even though it requires more work to install.

Wet systems are also more energy efficient, a traditional central heating system requires the water it uses to be heated to 80°C, whereas an underfloor heating system requires just 45°-60°C and will still heat a room to a comfortable 21°C, with no cold spots. This will save you money in the long run and reduce your carbon footprint.

Grey and yellow kitchen-diner with underfloor heating Image credit: Avocado Sweets

  1. How long does underfloor heating take to warm up?

This all depends on the thickness of the floor, the insulation you lay down and how well insulated the room itself is. The general consensus estimates that it takes around 30 minutes to heat a wooden floor but can take a few hours with an un-insulated, concrete floor.

kitchen with vintage industrial stools on a grey rubber floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: Chris Dyson

  1. Can I install underfloor heating myself?

Anyone can install underfloor heating and treat it much like any DIY project. You will, however, require a qualified electrician or plumber to connect your system to the mains electricity or central heating system.

open plan, white-washed, light-filled lounge with wooden floorImage credit: The Bazeley Partnership

  1. What size of kit do I need for my room?

The Underfloor Heating Store recommends that you buy an underfloor heating kit that covers between 80-85% of the free floor space in the room to reduce the occurrence of cold spots. It is also important that you do not order too much if you are using rolled heating mats because you cannot simply cut the cables.

large kitchen with central island and polished tiled floor with underfloor heatingImage credit: DDWH Architects

  1. What floors can underfloor heating be used with?

You can install underfloor heating beneath most flooring solutions, tiles, vinyl, laminate and even carpet can all be laid over underfloor heating, just bear in mind that better insulation is required for thicker floors.

Cream fitted kitchen with tiled floor and underfloor heatingImage credit: P & P Maintenance Services

  1. Can I put furniture on top of underfloor heating?

Most free-standing furniture is fine to place on top of an underfloor heating system. Just be careful when placing items such as thick rugs or dog beds in the room because they can trap heat and cause issues.

Now you know the answers to the most commonly asked questions, it’s time to get your very own kit laid in the conservatory, in the kitchen or even the bedroom and enjoy toasty floors underfoot!

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