I’m sure at some point or another you have considered installing underfloor heating (UFH). Especially with this cold weather we have been having. What would be better than toasty warm feet without digging out the slippers?!

More and more homes these days are fitting underfloor heating. It is a really effective and efficient way to heat your home.

If you are considering installing UFH in a new build, renovation or extension project we have written this handy guide to give you a bit of an idea of what to expect.

Electric vs Water underfloor heating

There are two types of underfloor heating: electric and water based.

Electric UFH is easier and cheaper to install, but the running costs are higher. Electric systems are linked up to your thermostat and mains power supply.

It comes in a variety of forms such as: heating mats, foil heating mats and loose wire systems. Each one suits different room shapes and flooring options.

  • Loose Wire: Ideal for awkward shaped rooms or rooms with obstacles.
  • Heating mats: Perfect for large, square shaped rooms. Works well with stone and tiled floor.
  • Foil heating mats: Designed specifically for laminate flooring.

If you are adding UFH to an existing room, during a renovation for example, electric underfloor heating is going to be the best option. The system is much flatter than that of the water-based system so can easily be installed under existing flooring without the need to adjust floor levels.

If you are a confident DIYer you may be able to lay electrical under floor heating yourself. You will need to get a qualified electrician to link it to the electricity supply.

Water based systems are expensive to install but are more efficient to run. They work in a similar way to radiators by running water through pipes. Water based systems typically connect to your boiler and use the warm water from your central heating.

Unlike radiators, due to the high surface area of the floor, the water only needs to be a few degrees higher than the room to have an impact.

Water based systems are the best option if you are trying to heat a large area. They are more suited to new build homes as they take up a lot more space and should always be fitted by a specialist.

What are the benefits of underfloor heating?  

  • A well heated room. As everyone knows, hot air rises. This means the floor gradually heats the entire room to a comfortable temperature without cold spots.
  • It is more efficient. Underfloor heating works at a lower temperature than traditional radiators. This could reduce your heating bills.
  • Removes the need for radiators. One of the main reasons people choose to install underfloor heating is because it offers more flexibility. Radiators tend to restrict the layout of furniture in a room and take up valuable wall space. By removing a radiator, you may find that you suddenly have the space for extra storage or even a new door way.
  • The heat stays in your room. The heat produced is less likely to be lost. Even with windows open and in draughty rooms. Again, making it more energy efficient.
  • No need for slippers! A warm floor means cosy feet all year round, even with no socks.
  • Can add value to our home. Underfloor heating is a desirable addition to any home. If you have it and want to sell on in the future, it could help you achieve a higher price.

Under floor heating can be installed under a multitude of flooring 

Even carpet! For UFH to work best with carpet, the maximum thickness for the underlay and carpet combined is 2.5 tog.

Solid wood floors tend to insulate the heat and, therefore, reduce efficiency. But you can still install UFH under your wooden floors if you wish. Just make sure your underfloor system isn’t too hot. If wood is exposed to temperatures that are too hot the wood could warp or shrink. The recommended maximum heat is usually 27 degrees. Always check with your manufacturer before installing underfloor heating under your wooden floor.

If you want to have a wooden floor and underfloor heating, it’s best to choose engineered wooden floor.

Tiles, stone and slate work extremely well with underfloor heating. They naturally absorb heat which is then radiated into the room. These natural materials also hold the heat for longer once the system has been switched off.

Downsides of under floor heating

Underfloor heating isn’t ideal for everyone. There are a few things you should consider before deciding to install underfloor heating:

  • It’s not the cheapest heating option. Underfloor heating can be very expensive to install and run, depending on the system you have chosen.
  • Long reaction times. Depending on which option you go for and which floor type you have, it can take a while to heat up (we discuss this in a little more detail further on).
  • You have to be careful about what you put on top. Underfloor heating can’t be used under certain items of furniture or fittings. This may restrict the way you arrange your furniture.

How much does underfloor heating cost?

As with everything, the cost varies! It mostly depends on the type of system you are installing, the location and the size of the room.

You can expect the cost of electric heating mats to be around £50-£75 per square metre. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of installation if you are not fitting it yourself. If you are installing the system yourself, you will still need to pay an electrician to come and connect the mat to your mains electric.

For a water based UFH you can expect to pay £2,000 as a minimum. The installation cost is additional and can cost around £300 a day.

Additional costs for heater controls, screed and insulation boards may also need to be included in your budget.

Like always, be sure to get quotes from multiple companies before committing to an installer.

Tips for installing underfloor heating

Reaction times of the underfloor heating – the time it takes for the floor to warm up and cool down – depend on the screed used to cover them.

As a general overview:

  • If the pipes are encased in solid concrete (as you may see with a new build) it could take more than 4 hours to heat up.
  • If encased in a typical sand and cement screed 65mm-75mm thick, it could take a minimum of two hours to heat up and cool down.
  • A thinner screed, around 35mm-40mm, would produce a reaction time of 30-40 minutes.

The reaction times will affect how you use the underfloor heating system. For example, if your underfloor heating is under solid concrete, you will probably want to keep it on all day. If a thinner screed has been used, you may want to use it like you would a radiator.

We always recommend calling in professionals when undertaking big projects, such as fitting UFH.

Do you need planning permission to fit underfloor heating?

Typically, you do not need planning permission. If you house is listed, however, it’s worth checking with your local authority.

Any work that is done will need to conform with building regulations.

If you are planning a project, and need any help or advice, get in touch. We can take care of everything thanks to our skilled employees.