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Choosing The Right Flooring for Underfloor Heating

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Choosing The Right Flooring for Underfloor Heating

Flooring is often overlooked during designing a space, whether that be the bedroom, living room, kitchen, or bathroom. Although it is not that important for an interior design scheme, getting it appropriate can affect the entire look and design of a room.

Whether your option is for wood flooring, natural stone, vinyl, concrete, or tiles flooring, our suggestion is here to help you find a flooring material that suits your place.

The key difference between different flooring materials and their suitability for use with the system is the material’s thermal conductivity, meaning how fastly and productively heat generated transfers to the floor surface.

The best flooring options for underfloor heating are flooring with great conductivity as it heats up quicker, provides more heat output, and is more efficient to run. However, this does not mean that less conductive products could not be used with underfloor heating.

The best options for the flooring to use with underfloor heating are tiles and stone. However, a suitable radiant heating system can be found for almost every floor finish.

Wood laminate flooring, carpet and rug flooring, rubber flooring, etc. are also appropriate flooring options for underfloor heating.

Whether you’re renovating or selecting flooring for a new build, we write in this article what you need to know about different flooring materials for underfloor heating.

TYPES OF FLOORING

You can use underfloor heating materials on any floor. The only difference between which floor materials to use with an underfloor system is its thermal conductivity.

Right Flooring for Underfloor Heating

TILE, STONE & POLISHED SCREED

As we already mentioned that the best type of flooring to use with underfloor heating is tile and stone. Both have high thermal conductivity, meaning that the heat from an underfloor heating pipe or wire transfers quickly to the floor surface. Tile and stone also retain heat well.

That makes the system efficient. Because of the fantastic thermal properties, tile and stone are ideal for underfloor heating in high heat loss areas such as a greenhouse. They can be warmed up to 29°C or more, providing a high heat output of up to 200W/m².

The tile and stone’s thickness has little impact on the heat output, but it does increase the heat up time a little. So, sticking to the highest thickness of 20mm is suggested when you’re seeking a highly responsive system.

Tile and stone’s high conductivity making them the best flooring to use with underfloor heating.

Ceramic & stone tiles

  • The best floor element to use with an underfloor heating system
  • Outstanding heat transfer goods & thin profile
  • Easy to keep clean and maintain.

Polished concrete

  • Extremely conductive allowing quick heat uptime
  • satisfactory for use with electric and water-based underfloor heating

Slate and flagstone

  • Naturally highly conductive and significant with underfloor heating.
  • Strong floor finishes ideal for high traffic areas.

Marble

  • Moderate thermal conductivity, but slower heat up.

Installation tips: underfloor heating with tile & stone

  • You have to apply a quality two-part flexible tile adhesive when installing underfloor heating with tiles.
  • Always use underfloor insulation when installing on a concrete subfloor.

WOOD FLOORING

Different wood floorings have different thermal elements. As such, there are differences in their quality for use with an underfloor heating system. If the floorboards are heavy and thick, typically, they are more suitable for underfloor heating.

Engineered timber performs very well with changes in floor temperature. So for this reason, it is the best type of wood flooring to use with an underfloor heating system. However, you can also use other wood floorings. But because of softer and less dense wood features, you must be paid to the floorboards’ thickness so that they do not block the heat. The floor surface temperature must not cross 27°C. This is a general rule for wood flooring.

Heating the floor changes the moisture content of the wood. So you should select wood flooring that can adapt to the changes in floor temperatures without changing the floor’s look. For example, Kiln-dried wood tends to work good with floor heating, but always check with the flooring manufacturer about quality for use with underfloor heating.

There are different wood flooring types for the underheating system. But you have to pay attention to the thickness of the floorboards. Otherwise, they may act as an insulator blocking the heat.

Engineered timber

This is another best wood flooring to use with underfloor heating. It works well with the changing floor temperature. It also adapts to the converting moisture content.

Solid hardwood

Gapping, cupping, and crowning can happen because of the changing humidity and temperature. You must be careful when considering use with underfloor heating to ensure compatibility and high enough heat output. Note one thing, always check with the manufacturer about quality for use with underfloor heating

Softwoods

It is appropriate for use with underfloor heating. But attention must be paid to the thickness of floorboards to confirm high heat output.

Parquet floor

You can get this in either solid wood or engineered timber, and maximum types are appropriate for use with underfloor heating.

Bamboo

As same as engineered wood in construction. It is also a good conductor of warmth. So we can say that it is also suitable for use with underfloor heating.

Installation tips: underfloor heating with wood flooring

Wood is affected by the humidity of the environment around the material because it’s natural features. This is why it’s needed to confirm the right moisture content of wood flooring during installation and the correct heating cycle when placing underfloor heating.

You can install engineered timber directly over underfloor heating with a floating floor or batten/ jointed method. Boards less than 20mm thick should be supported and fixed to give proper structural support. Low tog underlays are suggested when installing the boards over screed.

The flooring choice affects the system’s maximum heat output as particular floor finishes have high-temperature limitations. The heat output of a system depends on the whole heated floor area and air and floor temperatures. Heat output is affected by changing any of these three factors. It’s generally the easiest to change the floor finish as the room size and comfort air temperature are already pretty much set.

It’s important to ensure that the floor’s heat output is greater than the heat loss figure of the room.

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