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Oct 15

How to choose floor coverings for underfloor heating

Welcome to the Glenwood Flooring blog! This week we’re discussing the best types of floor covering to lay over your underfloor heating. We’ll share our knowledge of flooring types ranging from stone and wood to vinyl and carpet. Learn the pros and cons of each with regards to underfloor heating and what to ask your flooring supplier before you buy.

When choosing what covering to use with underfloor heating the two key considerations are:

  • the thermal resistance of the material
  • the covering’s ability to be heated without being damaged.

Below is a guide to each kind of floor covering by material.

Stone and tiles

Stone or tiles are considered by some people to be the best flooring materials for use alongside underfloor heating (UFH). This is due to the exceptional conductivity of stone. However you may be used to associating stone floors with coldness. It is true that when the heating isn’t on stone flags are quite cold meaning you’ll probably need the heating on all the time to combat coldness underfoot.

If you choose stone flags or ceramic tiles select a thinner thickness so heat transfers more quickly.

Stone may be unsuitable for a number of other reasons though e.g. the cost, the weight or where children could hurt themselves. Stone slabs are very expensive so may not suit all budgets. They’re also far less viable for use in apartments or upper floors due to their weight. Stone is most associated with kitchens and bathrooms or in old farm houses. Read on for alternative flooring materials.

Wood

The conductivity of wood is very good so suits use with underfloor heating very well. Wood also tends to feel like a warmer material even when the UFH is not turned on.

However wood can warp if heated and cooled frequently so you should also ask if the timber has been treated to ensure it is suited for your purposes. Even then there may be a temperature restriction of 27 degrees Celsius. Bear in mind that 27 degrees is extremely hot for most interiors so this shouldn’t pose any restrictions in reality.

Engineered wood flooring is the most common and in fact one of the best forms of timber flooring. It consists of 2 layers of wood pressed together resulting in a stronger, more resilient floor than solid wood.

Vinyl

Vinyl is good choice for flooring in general due to the ease of installation, its low cost and how hygienic it is, having no gaps where dirt and bacteria can settle. Take care when selecting vinyl for use over underfloor heating though as some varieties might not be suited to high heats. Make sure to enquire with your supplier or the manufacture about the compatibility of your chosen vinyl flooring.

Carpet

Despite some reports carpet can be used with UFH, you must simply select a carpet with less a tog of less than 2.5 in order to make sure the heat is not trapped beneath the carpet. If the tog of the carpet is higher the energy and heat of your heating system will be wasted as it’s blocked by the thick pile. Many household carpets are around 1 tog but be sure to always check the specification before buying.

Created on 15th October 2013
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