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Choosing the right floor surface for your underfloor heating

Choosing the right Floor Finish for UFH | © Sebastian Czapnik | Dreamstime.com

Choosing the right floor finish for your underfloor heating system has to take into account not just the decoration of your room, but also the physical characteristics of your new underfloor heating system.

Modern Under Floor Heating systems, also know as UFH systems have been developed to allow the customer a wide range of choice when it comes to the finished look. It is possible, with certain considerations of course, to have UFH under stone, timber, carpet or even vinyl flooring. In this article there will be some information on the special considerations, advantages and disadvantages of the various floor coverings in relation to UFH systems.

Timber:

Wooden, or wood effect flooring has become increasingly popular over the years, praised for its durability, itís ease of cleaning, and its look. However, if you want to have a UFH system under a timber floor then there are some points to consider:

  • Wood is a reasonable insulator, which could mean that the level of heat that escapes into the room would be reduced slightly. This isnít to say it isnít suitable, but that compared to other floor coverings the amount of heat may be less.

  • Timber, being a natural product, has moisture content, and you would need to be sure of the level of moisture in your floor as if it is too high, the UFH could in theory cause shrinkage and cracking. If you are considering a wood floor it may be best to look at the "kiln dried" timbers to ensure you donít have a problem.

Stone or Ceramic:

Another very popular, natural floor covering. Again, highly durable, easy to clean (although some types of stone flooring may require specialist stone cleaning techniques) and both stone and ceramic are fantastic heat conductors making them an ideal choice (from a heat point of view) for under floor heating. This type of floor covering means that you will get the maximum amount of heat, with the lowest temperature settings as the stone will ďstoreĒ the heat in it, and will release it gradually into the room.

Carpet:

Many people still like the feel of carpet under their feet, and it is possible to combine it with UFH systems so long as you choose your carpet with care. There are some considerations to keep in mind if you are planning on carpeting over your underfloor heating system:

  • Generally carpets and underlay that are thick and are rated over 1.5 tog, should be avoided. However, having said that the UHMA and Carpet foundation commissioned an independent series of tests by BSRIA and found that some carpets with a published Tog rating of up to 2.5 worked well with UFH systems.
    But it can be very difficult to get an accurate Tog rating for carpets, so a general rule of thumb Is that 1mm depth of carpet or underlay is the equivalent of 0.125 Tog, so for example a combined carpet and underlay depth of approx 12mm will give a Tog rating of 1.5 Tog. This may vary slightly throughout the various materials used for carpeting, with wool possibly being a higher tog then say, nylon.

Vinyl:

Although vinyl flooring has waned in popularity, it is still used, especially in rooms that are likely to be wet like a bathroom or kitchen and although it is possible for UFH systems to be installed under vinyl floors it is a good idea to get in touch with the manufacturer and ask them for advice as some vinyl floors can handle it but others will damage if used in conjunction with underfloor heating as some have a low tolerance for surface temperatures.

We have picked up just the 4 most popular types of floor covering availble, but it is worth remembering that there are other coverings available, for instance plastic and rubber flooring, and if you want an under floor heating system to go under a different type of floor covering make sure you take the time to talk to your UFH supplier and get their advice.


 
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