How do you ‘Heat’ Yours?
Recently it has come to my attention that that many of my customers and the home owners on platforms we are active on, like Houzz and Instagram, are asking questions around underfloor heating.
Realising how important this is to you, and how important the dilemma is to your projects, I wanted to take this week to post answers to some of your questions and hopefully help a few of you make that important decision on how you will ‘heat’ yours.
The first and most important thing to mention is the difference between electric and water underfloor heating systems. Electric systems are expensive to run (as is all electric heating) so suit smaller rooms like bathrooms and utility areas. Electrical systems are however easy to install, cheaper to install in smaller areas and can be retro fitted into existing rooms with minimum disruption. One of the biggest benefits is that they only increase floor height from as little as 3mm which is not manageable on wet system.
Generally cheaper to run than electric systems, wet systems on the other hand are also cheaper to install in new builds and full refurbishments. These systems are popular as they can also be remotely controlled via PC/ipad/mobile phone. Perfect for large areas and multiple rooms. Wet systems run using Air Source Heat Pumps allow for low energy usage.
If you're embarking on a new build project - the ideal system would be a wet system married to thermal solar panels or heat pumps. This gives an extremely efficient setup because of the required temperature gain (radiator systems require approx 55° C but underfloor systems this is only 25-30°C).
Now you have an idea of the systems lets get to your questions:
Will I need a step up between floors?
Nu-heat and the Underfloor Heating Store, which are well known brands in the world of underfloor heating, do a couple of solutions for thin setups (low profile) which don't require floors to be taken up. These work well in home renovations (rather than new builds) where this can make a big difference. Having different floor heights is not uncommon though and can be disguised with sloping door thresholds which are widely available.
What flooring can I use?
With underfloor heating, it is generally recommend that you use Laminate or Engineered wooden flooring rather than solid wood which can warp, discolor and even burn. Engineered wood is an excellent choice as it is effective in transferring heat from the underfloor heating tube to the surface of the floor. It is also always recommend that you ask your flooring supplier if there are any special care conditions for your specific flooring. Any thickness of engineered wood flooring is suitable – it is just worth baring in mind that the thinner the wear layer, then the better the heat output you'll get.
From a tiling perspective, natural stone and porcelain tiles work brilliantly with underfloor heating. Natural stone particularly holds the heat well, so will stay warm long after your heating has been turned off. As always, we must recommend employing a professional tiler to lay your floors, and ensure they use a flexible adhesive and grout. This allows a little movement as the floor heats up and cools down and stops the tiles from cracking.
Can I have a rug with underfloor heating?
This depends on the system you have. Electric underfloor heating is much like the element in your kettle, the entire element is heated by its resistance to the passage of current, if this element is covered it will gradually get hotter and hotter and cause the materials on it to heat up too - not good.
However, in a wet system the water only flows at your chosen temperature. The tube cannot get any hotter than the water flowing through so in theory a rug shouldn’t cause any more problem on a floor heated by a wet system than it would on any normal floor. In other words, the answer is yes, but you should always check with your carpet or underlay manufacturer.
How much is it? This is a tough questions to answer as there are so many variables. Always get a number of quotes. I can tell you that the most recent project we did was for a 4 zone system in an open plan kitchen, diner and living room in the Cotswolds, the cost was £2,300 (although we did pass the client trade discount of over £1000 in total).
When we are looking for suppliers we always get at least 4 quotes on like for like systems and always with a supplier with great customer services from the start (so if there are any problems you can at least reach someone) but also makes sure they provide layout diagrams.
The fitting costs for the above project was £2000. This included taking up all the old tiles and removing and then laying the system. Plumber and electrician costs to connect it up £200 electrician and £130 plumber. So in total for 50 sq meters the client paid a total of around £4650. If you need help quoting a system please do get in touch.
Preparing for Underfloor Heating?
One of the main things to remember is to increased or decreased temperature very gradually - no more than 1 degree celsius per day. That’s when first using UFH (underfloor heating system) or lowering gradually to accommodate for the Summer season.
It is also recommended that your choice of flooring is left to acclimatise for two to three days after fitting before the underfloor heating is turned on. This will allow it to settle in. When turning it on, set it at 1 degree above the ambient temperature and then increase gradually as explained above.
If you need help with choosing the right system for you please do not hesitate to contact us on 0208 133 0702 or email email@example.com