Top tips to simplify underfloor heating systems

Underfloor heating systems continue to rise in popularity with homeowners, and just as the type of property varies, so too does the best type of system. While it’s great that there is now a system suitable for any type of project, it can be a challenge to get your head around all of the different options. Here, Chris Ingram of Continental Underfloor, offers straight forward advice to help you make the right choice.

Staff PortraitUnderfloor heating can offer your customers many benefits – it’s energy efficient, offers a touch of affordable luxury and creates a comfortable environment. But to make sure your customers get the most out of such a system – and to ensure you have a straightforward job installing it – you need to weigh up your different options. Factors such as whether you’re dealing with a new build or renovation project and the type of floor construction will all impact on your system choice.
New builds, extensions or major renovations
If the application is a new build, an extension or a major renovation, where the floor will be dug up, the best systems to use are those that become part of the floor’s construction. Put simply, a system which acts as a part of the fabric of the building’s framework.
Such solutions usually use a screed to seal the pipes and panels which make up the system within the floor’s construction. This installation process is very simple and is perhaps the most traditional form of underfloor heating.
Upper floor installations
Where underfloor heating is to be installed in the first or second floor rooms of a home, for example in a bathroom or bedroom, there are systems available that fit between the joists. The advantage of this is there’s no extra build height, even if the floor is already in place. Many of these types of systems take the form of joisted floor solutions, which are easily slipped between the joists, meaning there’s very little disruption to the rest of the property.
One of Continental’s popular systems is AluPlate™, which can be installed from both above and below. Installing underfloor heating between joists can also be applied to ground floor applications if there’s a cellar beneath the property, perfect for retrofit applications where the homeowner wants minimal bother or has a floor they wish to preserve.
Installations above an existing floor
In situations where a floor is already in place and it’s not possible to disturb the construction of it in any way, panel-based over the floor systems are ideal. These panels are simply laid on top of the existing floor and the original flooring is then replaced, all with minimal fuss (or mess). Typically, the panels for these solutions are less than 2cm in depth, meaning there’s very little height added to the floor.
Underfloor webGet on the right footing with flooring
It’s important to ensure the homeowner’s choice of floor covering compliments the system you’ve picked; the wrong type could reduce how effectively it works.
Almost any floor covering – whether carpet, vinyl, laminate, wood, stone or tiles – will work with water-based underfloor heating, as long as there’s sufficient insulation underneath. It’s worth bearing in mind that harder surfaces tend to offer better conductivity, and therefore better heat output rates. You might wish to steer your customers towards coverings such as tiles and hard woods, in order for them to maximise the benefits their system offers and improve the feedback they provide for you and your business.
Many homeowners will not realise that carpet is still an option when fitting underfloor heating. Underfloor heating can work with carpet, so long as the customer remembers to take a look at the TOG value of the material they select. Choosing a carpet with a TOG value which is too high is almost like putting a duvet over a radiator – it’s counterintuitive to creating a warm and cosy temperature in the room. A good choice of underlay is also needed to counteract this effect.
For optimal system performance, advise homeowners to choose an underlay with a maximum TOG value of approximately 0.5 and a carpet with a TOG value between 1.0 and 1.5. They should be able to find out the TOG value of carpet and underlay from the respective manufacturers when making their interior design decisions (which thankfully you don’t have to help with).
A helping hand
System selection does not have to be complicated, as long as each aspect of the system is carefully considered. Why not try consulting with the homeowner as soon as they book you in for the job so they can chat through their build and interior plans? This should guarantee the final installation process is as smooth as possible, something both yourself and your customers more than appreciate.
For more information on Continental’s product offering, or for expert advice from our team, visit www.ufh.co.uk/. Independent campaign, Ask for Underfloor, also offers a great pool of resources and answers many FAQs installers have about underfloor heating applications on its website. For more information visit http://www.askforunderfloor.org.uk/.