5 tips for underfloor heating

A bedroom with underfloor heating, available from The Underfloor Heating Store. PA Photo/Handout

A bedroom with underfloor heating, available from The Underfloor Heating Store. PA Photo/Handout - Credit: Archant

1. An electric underfloor heating system (also known as a dry system) radiates heat through a series of wires in the floor. It’s either a mat, which is best for large spaces because it can be rolled out to cover an entire floor, or a cable/loose-fit system (individual wires). This is a flexible solution for smaller and awkwardly shaped rooms, such as bathrooms, where there’s no need to heat the floor under the basin and bath. Heating mats should be laid on a finished subfloor, such as plywood, and encased in a flexible levelling compound or flexible tile adhesive, while cable/loose-fit systems should be encased in the finishing screed of a concrete floor.

2. One of the benefits of underfloor heating is that there’s more free wall space than with radiators. Another benefit is that the room is heated more evenly – with radiators, you get cold spots. Radiant heat (produced by underfloor heating) is the most efficient form of heat distribution, and airborne dust is greatly reduced, which is good for allergy sufferers. Underfloor heating works at a lower temperature to radiators, so a well-insulated home is vital to prevent heat loss (see below).

3. Electric underfloor systems can work with most types of floor covering (check when you buy if in doubt), from carpet, vinyl and wood, to ceramic tiles and natural stone, but it’s important to get the right wattage. A 100W mat can be used to take the chill off cold floor tiles, while a 150W mat can be used as a primary heating source, providing adequate insulation is in place. For areas of high heat loss, such as conservatories, a 200W mat is needed. You can adjust the temperature easily from a thermostat (a smart thermostat can be controlled by an app) and independently of your home’s central heating system – electric underfloor heating is ideal for warming a cold bathroom floor when the central heating’s off.

4. A poorly insulated home loses lots of heat, reducing the effectiveness of any underfloor heating system. If the floor isn’t insulated sufficiently, for example, the underfloor heating will heat the earth below, as well as the room above, which no one wants. Whether you’re fitting an electric or wet underfloor system, ensure you insulate under the heating elements sufficiently, and insulate elsewhere in the home as much as possible to get maximum benefit.

5. If you’re a competent and experienced DIYer, you could fit electric underfloor heating yourself, as long as a qualified electrician connects the system to the mains supply and thermostat. Find out more about underfloor heating at theunderfloorheatingstore.com.