Under floor heating is a way of heating the home that is growing in popularity. Some even argue that under floor heating will make a property more saleable albeit in itself not a reason to take the plunge. That said, there’s no getting away from the fact that heat without the need for radiators and all the associate pipework is very appealing. When building a home from scratch, you may well decide to install under floor heating throughout, or if you’re extending it may be that you retain your traditional heating system in the majority of the house, but plump for under floor heating in the new part of your home. Either way, there are essentially two types of under floor heating, both of which have their pros and cons.
Electric or water under floor heating?
Water based under floor heating
Water based under floor heating, as the name suggests, relies on the passage of warm water throughout a piping system which is installed under the floor. Connected to a boiler or a solar water heating system, it is generally acknowledged that this is an efficient way of heating your home because it is designed to work effectively with a lower water temperature than traditional radiators.
The main downsides of water based under floor heating are the piping that is required to accommodate the system; the skill required for installation and the size of room needed to make it cost effective. Because the pipes for water based heating require more depth as well as more skill to install, this is an option rejected by many people. One way around the problem of depth is to elevate your floor, but in many cases this simply isn’t feasible.
Electric under floor heating
Electric under floor heating is made up of series of electric wires that are placed either under or within your flooring. Often, electric under floor heating is fitted in sheets with loose-fit wiring used to accommodate tight or awkward spaces. Recognised as a simpler installation process than water based under floor heating, electric under floor heating is something a competent DIY-er might tackle on their own, albeit hiring a qualified electrician to connect the system to the mains.
The main downside of electric under floor heating is that it is more expensive to run than water based under floor heating.
When it comes to choosing the right under floor heating for your project, there’s no getting away from the fact that taking advice from a selected range of trusted suppliers will help you make the right decision. But once your decision is made on your heating system, it’ll be time to start thinking about your flooring.
While under floor heating is suitable for installation under tiles, stone and some carpets, it is not recommended to combine solid wood and under floor heating. This is because of the extreme expansion and contraction that occurs due to the direct heat on the flooring. As a result, you should choose an engineered wood floor. When choosing the thickness of your floor, unless your heating or flooring supplier tells you otherwise, you should be quite safe selecting a 15/4 thickness.
When it comes to fitting, if you have chosen electric under floor heating, your floor should ideally be floated. A floating floor is a floor that isn’t fixed to the sub floor, which means that it’s neither nailed nor glued down. This type of fitting relies on the weight of the floor to keep it in position. Normally a floating installation method includes the use of an underlay, and with under floor heating, it’s essential to choose an underlay that is compatible with under floor heating.
On the other hand, if you have chosen wet under floor heating, the floor can be glued straight on to the screed. When you install engineered wood floor over wet under floor heating, it should be glued down to allow for the expansion and contraction of the floor as the temperature rises and falls.
All of that said, if you are in any doubt about which type of flooring or fitting method will work best for your unique situation, you shouldn’t hesitate to seek the advice of your flooring supplier.
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