Tips for installing underfloor heating

Consider these key points before installing underfloor heating to avoid costly mistakes.

TODO alt text

Consider these key points before installing to avoid costly mistakes.

Reduce heat loss

Before adding underfloor heating (UFH), look at improving the energy efficiency of your home. Measures such as double glazing, and loft and cavity wall insulation, will reduce the amount of heat lost, while a ground- or air-source heat pump will lower the running costs of the system. Once UFH is installed, you’ll be able to run it at a low, constant temperature to create a comfortable environment, while reducing energy bills.

Think about head-height

Many UFH systems will need some floor-height build-up, requiring excavation works. Alternatively, a retrofit product can be fitted between joists and have existing flooring laid on top, with as little as a 15mm build-up compared to 50mm of a standard system. ‘In a period cottage with low ceilings or beams, any increase in floor level can be a problem,’ explains Heather Oliver, product development manager at NuHeat. ‘Shop around for the lowest build-up products to ensure that valuable space isn’t lost.’

Benefit from dual heating

‘It’s a common misconception that you can’t use UFH in just one room of the house. Because both UFH and radiators run off hot water, you can easily mix and match them in the home,’ explains Chris Ingram, spokesperson for Ask for Underfloor. ‘You could fit UFH in rooms that typically have colder floor surfaces, such as kitchens and bathrooms, and have standard radiators elsewhere.’

UFH is a great choice for large, open-plan areas or in new extensions, as the heat will circulate around the whole space. ‘It could be that UFH manages for 99 per cent of the year and a small supplementary wood-burner provides extra heat in very cold weather,’ says Heather Oliver.

Choose the right type Water-based UFH systems can be installed in most homes, and are compatible with the majority of floor coverings, including wood, vinyl and carpet. There are three main types:

  • Screed/solid floor: set within the construction of the floor and held with a layer of screed. Ideal for extensions or major renovations.
  • Joisted: fits between layers of the flooring and can be installed from above or below and held in place by a metal heat diffuser plate. Best for older homes and loft conversions.
  • Floating: uses a metal heat diffuser plate or foil over a polystyrene panel to hold the tubes, or they are held in a pre-routed panel. Best for retrofitting in kitchens and bathrooms. Electric UFH is another option that can usually be retrofitted quite easily. Quick to heat up, the systems work well in small spaces but can be costly to run long-term over large areas. 

Useful contacts

Featured image: A low-profile UFH solution for renovation projects, LoProMax can be easily installed over an existing floor and includes a specialist self-levelling compound that is ready for floor coverings after just 72 hours. Prices start from £820 per pack covering 4m² at Nu-Heat