Your guide - underfloor heating

Underfloor heating is becoming one of the must have features as part of any renovation project. A full back to brick renovation is the perfect time to install underfloor heating in your home, or if you are carrying out a kitchen extension then installing underfloor heating in this area is a great idea.

Wet underfloor heating is the most popular kind and perfect for a renovation, the initial installation costs are high, however it is efficient to run. Electric underfloor heating is far easier and cheaper to install, however the running costs are expensive, so it's only useful in a small area such as an en-suite.

We take a look at wet underfloor heating and the most common questions asked! 


How much does underfloor heating cost to install?

One of the main reasons why people don't choose underfloor heating is that the underfloor heating cost to install is far higher than a standard radiator system.

The installation cost varies depending on many factors:


  • the size of the floor space
  • the type of property
  • whether it's being fitted in a renovation or a retrofit

Expect the cost to install underfloor heating to be around £80 - £100 per square metre in a standard property, this would be by a specialist. 

This cost may be less per square metre if it's a larger area covered and is a simple job. 

This cost doesn't include any building work, such as stripping back floors, which is why it's better to install underfloor heating in an extension or when you are renovating your property. A retrofit would cost far more due to the preparation work required. 

Flooring by Luna Tiles & Stone


Is underfloor heating expensive to run?

As underfloor heating is estimated to be 15 - 40% more energy efficient than a radiator system (according to The Greenage), the running costs should be less for underfloor heating than for a radiator system. This is because the water temperature running through underfloor heating is 45 degrees compared with 82 degrees for a radiator system, so there is far less demand on the boiler.

When people complain about underfloor heating being expensive to run, it's most likely to be that it's electric underfloor heating, which runs off of electricity rather than the boiler.


What are underfloor heating pros and cons?

Pros

Underfloor heating gives the most luxurious and welcoming feeling in a home and worth installing if you have the budget. 

The beauty of underfloor heating is that the heat is evenly distributed throughout the room, with no cold areas that you may find with a conventional radiator heating system. 

From an interiors perspective, a huge benefit of underfloor heating is that you free up floor and wall space as you don't require radiators, giving a more minimalist look throughout your home. This also gives you much more space and the freedom to choose the layout of your furniture without being restricted by radiators. 

If you have underfloor heating installed in the bathroom, then the floor will dry quickly. This works particularly well in a wetroom where there are often lots of splashes - underfloor heating will dry them up whilst feeling lovely underfoot in the winter.

If you have pets, they also love underfloor heating and find it so cosy to sleep on - an added bonus!

Cons

Underfloor heating will take longer to warm up than a standard radiator system, so you need to factor this into account in the Winter months. 

Although underfloor heating is cheaper to run, the installation costs are far more than a standard radiator system, so it is often a luxury that gets cut from the renovation if the budget just won't stretch. It would take years before the underfloor heating installation investment pays back.

If you use an experienced installer then it's unlikely to go wrong, but do make sure your product is industry recognised and your installer has a lot of experienced. The cost of repairing underfloor heating can be high if it's the pipes that have been damaged, for example.


Is underfloor heating efficient?

Underfloor heating is typically more efficient than a radiator to run, however the efficiency of underfloor heating depends on a few different factors:


  • The type of property will have an impact on how efficient your underfloor heating is. Some period properties have heat losses and the underfloor heating will struggle to raise temperatures in the coldest winter days. 
  • The insulation in the flooring also has an impact on how effective underfloor heating is, as well as the insulation throughout your home. 
  • A good screed will impact the efficiency of the underfloor heating. If the screed is laid to the correct depths then it will retain the heat for longer and require less energy to run it.

Before installing underfloor heating, it's best to check with an experienced fitter who will check your home for inefficiencies and areas where you may also require a radiator. Or it may be that underfloor heating will just not work that well in your home.



How long does underfloor heating take to warm up?

It can take anywhere from 30 mins to 4 hours for underfloor heating to warm up - the time is very much dependent on your insulation, the thickness of the screed and how you run your underfloor heating. 

A well insulated floor will mean increase the amount of heat that is passed up through the floor and not lost, which will increase the time it takes to warm up the underfloor heating.

The thickness of screed also has a significant impact on how quickly the underfloor heating takes to warm up. A thick screed will take longer to heat up and cool down, whereas a thin screed will allow the underfloor heating to warm up far quicker. 

The thickness of the screed is very much dependent on your property and how you will use the room, so talk this through with your specialist. Typically a concrete screed would be around 150 mm thick and may take several hours to warm up. A typical sand and cement screed is around 75 mm thick and would take around 2 hours. The flow screed is around 40 mm thick and will take around 30 mins to warm up.


Should I leave underfloor heating on all of the time?

In the colder months, it's advised to leave underfloor heating running all of the time at a set temperature to stop your home cooling down, as it takes longer to heat up than conventional radiators. You can of course change this depending on the room and how much you are using them. So a guest bedroom for example doesn't need to be on continuously, but the kitchen or bathroom would be best to have the underfloor heating on all of the time.

If the underfloor heating is set in thick screed, then you are recommended to leave the underfloor heating on all of the time at a low temperature due to the additional time it takes to heat up.

Overall, it's energy efficient to have underfloor heating running all of the time at a low temperature, as it will require less energy than it would to heat it up from cold.


Can underfloor heating replace radiators?

Underfloor heating can replace radiators and can be installed throughout the whole house, however it is most common in kitchens and bathrooms.

When considering installing underfloor heating in your home, make sure you consult an underfloor heating specialist who will be able to assess the energy efficiency of your home and whether underfloor heating is optimum throughout. You may need a radiator in areas where there is high heat loss.

There are also a small umber of instances where underfloor heating just won't work, for example if the floor depths are not enough for the correct screed depths and insulation.


Do I need a new boiler for my underfloor system?

Underfloor heating can be used off of your typical boiler system and doesn't require a new boiler to install underfloor heating, although a new efficient boiler may improve your overall heating efficiency of your home. Underfloor heating can be ran off of all heating fuels too.

Heat pumps work really well with underfloor heating as they operate off of a lower temperature, so you can choose to install one at the same time and improve the overall energy efficiency of your home.

Kitchen by Watermark Kitchens & Flooring by Exterior Solutions


How does underfloor heating work?

Wet Underfloor Heating is made up of an arrangement of water pipes laid in loops under a floor. Water heated by a gas, oil or a renewable heat source is then pumped through the pipe loops, which then indirectly heats the floor.


How do I control underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating systems are normally split into separate digital zones, where each rooms temperature can be controlled separately. 



What kind of flooring is best to use with underfloor heating?

Tiles, both natural and man-made, are the best conductor of heat for underfloor heating, which is why underfloor heating is so popular in kitchens and bathrooms. 

If you are looking for a wooden floor, natural wood can be unstable and does have a tendency to expand when exposed to temperature changes. 

Engineered flooring is a more stable option than solid wood, so is a better choice with underfloor heating. This is because the ply layers become very rigid when sandwiched together, which reduces the wood's natural tendency to expand when exposed to humidity or temperature changes. Narrower widths of engineered flooring (135 mm – 180 mm) are particularly recommended with underfloor heating and boards up to 240mm can be used for less heat intense areas.

Luxury vinyl tiles can work very well with underfloor heating as heat can easily get through the vinyl layer, providing a warm feeling underfoot. As is the case for any flooring used with underfloor heating, setting it to a higher temperature may affect both the adhesive and the flooring itself.

Carpet is also compatible with underfloor heating, although is not as efficient as tiles. You will need special underlay with a tog rating of less than 1 to allow heat to pass through the carpet quickly.

With any flooring, check with the manufacturer that the flooring is compatible with underfloor heating, the maximum temperature of the underfloor heating, and any particular underlay or adhesive that they specifically recommend for your product.


When in my renovation should I install underfloor heating?

A full house renovation or an extension is the best time to install underfloor heating, as you are replacing all of the flooring so there is less build work required specifically for the underfloor heating. A retro fit on an existing floor will be costly and also require a lot of upheaval, so do keep this in mind and weigh up the benefits with the disruption.

Published: October 9, 2019

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