Everything You Need To Know About Underfloor Heating & More
The Complete Guide to Underfloor Heating Installation
Underfloor heating, UFH, sometimes called radiant heat, is a nice touch of luxury to a home’s design as it radiates heat evenly across the surface of the floor and throughout the room. There are two basic types of underfloor heating – electric and water.
Water and Electric Floor Heat
Both options heat the room from the floor up to provide even radiation of warmth. Water radiant floor heating systems run tubes or pipes filled with hot water under the flooring. Electric underfloor heating uses encased wiring and sensors to generate the heat. The water-based systems are usually installed as part of the construction process and can be quite costly when compared to that of an electric system.
Radiant Flooring Heating Versus Traditional Radiators
While heating a room, a traditional radiator heats the area closest to it to a warmer temperature than areas farther away, leaving pockets of cold air throughout the room.
Radiant underfloor heating systems heat evenly, leaving no cold pockets. A radiator also must be heated to a higher temperature to do its job of heating up an entire room properly.
Underfloor, radiant heating, however, depending on the type of flooring, will provide even heating at about 29 degrees Celsius or lower which makes it energy efficient and saves you money on heating bills.
Save on Heating Bills
Underfloor heating is a great way to provide energy efficient warmth to your home and provide heated floors. Though the initial underfloor heating cost is more than using central heating or a home radiator to heat your rooms, underfloor heating will save you plenty on your energy bills in the long run. Some estimates claim you will save an average of 15% on heating bills when you use radiant heating.
Radiant Heating is a Great Option for Any Room, Allows You to Use the Entire Room, and Is Controlled by a Thermostat.
Underfloor heating works especially well in bathrooms, to warm your feet when stepping out of the shower or bathtub. Once it’s installed, it requires almost no maintenance. You control the temperature with an on-wall thermostat. Choose a programmable or one that runs on WiFi if you prefer. Installing the heating under the floor also means you don’t have to design a room around bulky, in-the-way radiators or leave areas on the floor open for an air vent to blow the hot air throughout the room. Instead, you are free to use the entire space as you want.
Heating from the Floor up Increases Air Quality
An added benefit with underfloor heating is that it increases the quality of air in your home. Radiators generate high temperatures that actually decreases the oxygen level in the room. This circulating heat causes air to rise to the ceiling and then back down until it generates a circle of dust. With the heat generated evenly from under your feet, the air quality is kept more pure.
There Are Three Basic Components in an Underfloor Heating System – the Underlay, the Overlay, and the Final Floor Finish
An underlay is a layer of cushioning material that is set between the flooring and the subfloor. Underlay is assigned a tog rating which measures the thermal resistance of the underlay. The higher the tog rating, the better warmth the underlay will provide because of the extra layer of insulation.
An underlay may come in the form of a sponge-like material with a low tog rating, or heavyweight sponge, latex foam, or crumb with a tog rating of 1 or more. Felt underlay is not recommended for use in underfloor heating.
Choose Your Overlay for Wiring and Style of Floor
An overlay includes the insulation and wiring that provides the underfloor heat. The electric floor heating options come in a variety of installation choices. Some are pre-wired and woven throughout a rolled-up mesh that can easily be laid out and cut to fit any room dimension.
There are also underfloor heating mats that contain the insulation and cushion with rows of indentations and grooves to manually insert the wiring as you desire and as the size of your room calls for. Others come pre-wired and wrapped inside a foil insulated roll that is cut to the size of the room.
Choose the Flooring You Desire
The final floor finish is the type of flooring you choose, from vinyl to carpeting, wood laminate or stone tiles. Whatever type of floor you want to walk on and finish the look of your home, will work with radiant heat.
What Types of Floors Work Best with Radiant Heating?
Choose the Flooring First
Depending on whether you are using tile stone, wood laminate, carpet, or vinyl floors, the flooring material will have its own thermal conductivity. In other words, the flooring you choose will partially determine how well the underfloor heating transfers the heat across its surface.
Working with Stone and Tile Is Great for Small Rooms
Tile and stone have high thermal mass that can be heated up to 29 degrees Celsius, making it an ideal choice for bathrooms, kitchens, entry ways, laundry areas, and sun rooms.
Wood Laminate Is a Solid Choice
Wood laminate floors can be heated with either a water-based or electric underfloor heating system. However, it is not recommended that you heat a wood laminate floor hotter than 27 degrees Celsius.
If you select a thin, high density wood floor, it will shorten the time it will take to heat up the room. With wood, it is recommended that you choose a flooring that is less than 18mm. Some wood laminate flooring manufacturers recommend that an underlay be used when installing underfloor heating. This underlay should be no more than 3 to 6mm thick.
Cozy into Soft Warmth with Carpet
When installing radiant heating under carpeting, it is important to pay close attention to the tog rating, never going higher than a 2.5 and more ideally, 1.5 or lower. If it’s too thick of carpet, the heat will not properly radiate.
Also, the carpet’s backing should be one that is not overly insulated and no thicker than 9.5mm, high quality sponge rubber, synthetic fibers, or natural fibers are best for radiating heat. Additional insulation should be added to the wood or concrete base. When heating, the floor temperature should never go above 27 degrees Celsius with carpeting.
Vinyl Laminate Is Easy to Upkeep
Vinyl flooring is typically a good choice for underfloor heating, regardless of whether you choose water or electric radiant heat.
You may want to use an insulated underlay with a dual overlay for the most energy efficient install. When using underfloor heating with vinyl flooring, never go above 27 degrees Celsius.
Installation Tips Include Watching Height and Hiring a Professional
One question raised when deciding whether or not to install radiant heating is how it will increase the floor height since it requires underfloor components of the wiring and insulation that raises the floor level.
If height is an issue, selecting to use an underfloor heating mat or mesh with thinner wire cables may be your answer.
Hire an Electrician
Underfloor heating installation is relatively easy to do, and depending on the type you choose can be used under any kind of flooring whether it be hardwood, laminate, tile, or carpet. It’s a good idea to have an electrician connect the radiant heating system to the power supply to ensure it is set up properly. You will save a lot on labor costs if you include the flooring as part of your initial home construction build.