Choosing the best flooring for radiant heating systems
If under floor heating is important in your home or commercial property, you have to wisely choose a new flooring material when renovating or working on new construction. The floor that goes on top of your radiant heating system to keep the property warm should be designed to handle the heat demands of that system. You’ll also need to consider factors such as the comfort level and durability of the floor heating systems.
In most cases, you’ll probably need to settle for different flooring types in different areas of the property such as a stain-resistant floor for the kitchen, carpeting for the living room and a waterproof floor for the bathroom. Whatever floor type you choose to install, it is important to understand the under floor heating options available for you.
This is a popular option mainly because it adds a unique character and warmth to the home. Wood is also comfortable underfoot, even though it may require more maintenance to prevent damage. Wood is a good insulator, which is one of the major drawbacks if you want to use under floor heating in wooden flooring. For instance, if your floor is made of extra thick solid wood, it can be very difficult for heat to transfer. Thin-engineered wood is one of the best options if you want to install under floor heating on wood. Also, you need to ensure that the wooden floor is not exposed to temperatures above 27 degrees centigrade. The system should be properly installed with controls to guarantee optimal performance. Always check to ensure if the wood flooring you’ve chosen can be used with under floor heating. A heat map can be laid between the battens and controls used to ensure the maximum output of the heating system is 160W per sq. ft.
Laminate & vinyl flooring
Most homeowners choose vinyl floors because it’s a more flexible and affordable material compared to options like wood. The good thing with vinyl is that it conducts heat very well which makes it a great option to use with under floor heating. Laminate and vinyl floors are also easier to maintain than wood, which is why you can use them in areas like the bathroom and kitchen. Since vinyl and laminate floors are great heat conductors, it’s important to ensure that the floor doesn’t get too hot when you install radiant heating systems. A temperature sensor must be installed to prevent this. Also, it is important to ensure that the heat is spread evenly throughout the laminate floor to avoid discoloration and movement. With vinyl, the heating element can be covered with screed or levelling compound in order to help ensure it spreads evenly across the floor.
Thick carpets are designed to act as good insulators. This makes under floor heating less efficient when installed in a carpeted floor. If you want to use carpeting together with under floor heating in your property, consult a technician to advise on the best type of carpets to use before installation. Thin carpets don’t insulate as much and may offer efficient warming of the room above.
Other flooring options
Polished concrete floor: If you are renovating, polished concrete is a great option. Not only does it conduct heat very well, but it is also durable and retains the heat for long hours. If you have a polished or painted concrete floor, heating cables embedded directly into the concrete would work best. It’s an affordable option that doesn’t add extra height to the floor and offers stable temperature.
Slate: This is an ideal option for busy areas in your home. Slate is a durable material that not only withstands lots of foot traffic but also conducts heat very well which makes it suitable for use with heating systems.
Granite: The main disadvantage of granite is that it is prone to cracking. However, granite is an effective flooring material to use with radiant heating systems. It comes with very beautiful and unique finishes with lots of options to choose from.
Porcelain: This is a non-porous tile that is designed to resist stains. Porcelain tiles can retain heat very well, but may require longer installation time for heating systems.
Marble: Marble floors may take longer to heat up than most flooring types but once they do, they retain the heat well. Marble is also a good conductor of heat.
Screed tiles: Though not a very popular option, screed tiles, conduct heat much faster than most tiling materials. The tile is also designed for different kinds of under floor heating options.