Flooring – Get Rid Of Your Radiators
Why choose underfloor heating?
ONE advantage of underfloor heating (UFH) is that there are no radiators to spoil the clean lines of a room, and space can be saved by freeing up a wall that would otherwise need to be dedicated to a radiator.
UFH is also an extremely efficient way to warm a room, and is claimed to give a more pleasant heat than radiators, stoves or traditional solid-fuel fires.
Heat is emitted in a very gentle way, according to manufacturers. There are no cold spots and, as most of the heat is concentrated in the lower part of the room, very little heat is wasted.
Types of underfloor heating:
Hot-water (or wet) systems which basically use warm water from the central heating system. The water is pumped through plastic pipes that are laid on to a subfloor, before the new final surface is installed.
Underfloor heating of this type also reduces water-heating costs as it uses water at a lower temperature than standard radiators (reputedly about 40degC to 65degC to give a floor temperature of between 23degC and 32degC).
Electric mat (or wire) systems feature cables which are attached to open-weave mesh mats. There are, however, newer types where the elements are embedded into a continuous roll. The mats or rolls are spread out on the floor, connected together and are then linked up to the thermostat and mains power supply.
In general, whilst electric systems are cheaper to install, and cause less disruption to existing floor structure, they are more expensive to run than wet systems, which are more cost efficient.
Where to use underfloor heating:
Some electrical-mat systems can be used directly under rugs or carpets. UFH is mostly used in ground-floor rooms but, in reality, there is a system to suit any type of floor construction.
Wet systems are most easily installed where it’s possible to take up floors or where new floors are being constructed, so is likely to suit new extensions, conservatories and new open-plan kitchen-cum-living areas.
Electric UFH is likely to be more suitable for existing rooms as the electrical mesh system is flatter than a wet system so there is less need for floor heights to be altered to accommodate it.
There are even electrical mat systems available that can be used under rugs on existing hard floors. On balance, it’s considered easier to add electric systems to upper-floor rooms.
Carpet: UFH can be used with almost all types of flooring, even carpet, providing that the carpet and underlay have a thermal resistance of less than 2.5 tog. Indications show that, for the majority of carpet styles, the thermal resistance will be less than 1 tog.
Stone, ceramic, sate and terracotta: As these flooring materials have become more fashionable, there has been an increase in the number of homes using UFH. Heat-up time depends on the thickness of the tiles. Thick flagstones will take longer to reach optimum temperature, but once this is reached there’s no difference in heat quality between thick or thinner floor surfaces.
Timber: UFH is suitable for use with many types of timber flooring, but most installers stipulate that the timber be specifically recommended for UFH use.
The flooring should have a top temperature restriction (usually 27degC) and an expansion gap needs to be left around the edges (this is easily hidden by a skirting board or trim).
Always liaise with the flooring supplier and heating installer before making your purchase. Many suppliers will recommend a specific brand of electric UFH and it’s a good idea to listen to their advice.
Vinyls and laminates: UFH can be used with high-quality vinyls and laminates. However, not all laminates or vinyls are compatible with UFH, so it’s always advisable to check with the flooring manufacturer or the heating installer before committing.
This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at www.contractflooringjournal.co.uk.