Guide to Under Floor Heating
Under floor heating is always worth considering when building from new or renovating your home. This form of heating can be used under almost any type of floor.
With an increasing interest in hard floor coverings in recent years under floor heating (UFH) is almost taken for granted. It eliminates the need for radiators that spoil the clean lines of a room and is extremely energy efficient. UFH also gives a more pleasant and comfortable heat than radiators, distributed evenly throughout the room.
It us a popular misconception that UFH can’t be used with carpets. Though the type of underlay is important (waffle backed foam is usually the most effective), this form of heating remains popular for people wanting to install a carpet.
Ceramic, Stone, Slate and Terracotta floors have become very popular for use in kitchens and bathrooms. UFH is usually a priority for these rooms in the interest of avoiding an uncomfortable cold floor. The main factor to consider with these materials is the thickness of the tiles. This will affect the heat up time of the surface.
For use with Timber most installers would prefer to use timber that stipulates that it is recommended for use with UFH. Timber flooring usually requires a temperature restriction of around 27oC and an expansion gap around the edge of the room.
UFH can be used with good quality vinyls and laminates such as those from Polyflor and Karndean International. However, it is very important to check with the flooring manufacturer or supplier that the flooring is recommended for use with UFH.
Types of UFH
Similar to most domestic heating methods UFH is available in two forms: wet systems, and electric mat or wire systems. Wet systems use a slightly lower temperature of water than radiators, usually around 40 – 65oC to give a floor temperature of 23 – 32oC, reducing the cost of water heating. This makes the running cost of wet systems cheaper than electric systems, but is slightly more to install in the first place. For long term use it will always be cheaper to fit a wet system.
The first thing to consider when installing UFH is that your property should be insulated to adhere to the new building regulations. This includes adequate insulation beneath the system to direct the heat upwards. A lack of insulation can lead to an increase in energy cost and wastage, and a decrease in performance.
In each room there should be a place where the controls can be hidden (wet system only). The under floor heating will have a thermostatic valve similar to that of a radiator in each room.
Whichever type that you choose it is imperative that the designer and installer both know the depth of the covering and the type of underlay being used.