Who wouldn’t want to come in from the cold and immediately feel the warmth on your feet? Or step out of the shower straight onto a warm floor in your bathroom? In Scandinavian countries underfloor heating is extremely popular and nearly 80% of the homes are heated in this way. Until now it had been seen as a luxurious commodity for the rich and famous. However, recently it has become a more common form of heating here in the UK. It is especially popular in new build homes where it is often fitted as standard.
Underfloor heating is deemed as a more efficient system to run and can be installed beneath virtually any floor type. It is particularly popular in bathroom spaces where fitting in a radiator can be tricky. These heating systems work by heating the floor upwards through radiation to cover the entire volume of the room at the same time. Unlike a traditional radiator system this creates an even dispersal of warmth throughout your room. Subsequently, this means there are no draughts or cold spots which you often get away from a heat source.
So is the common myth that it is just affordable for the upper class correct? Or is underfloor heating a viable option for any number of homes? A useful starting point is to look at the different types of underfloor heating available in the current market. Then consider the pros and cons of this type of heating before you decide if it is something you wish to have in your home.
What Types of Underfloor Heating are Available?
Hot Water (Wet) Systems
With this type of underfloor heating water is pumped through the pipes within the sub floor from the main central heating system or via solar energy. This is the best option for new build homes so that it can be installed at the time of construction.
Electric Mates/Wire (Dry) Systems
This style of underfloor heating is produced by unique mats or wiring which are connected together to spread out beneath the floor of the room. It is linked to the thermostat and main power supply of the home. This more slim line style of underfloor heating is easier to install in homes. In turn making it a more viable option for those of us with an older property.
Generally speaking electric underfloor heating systems are cheaper to install than hot water systems. However, they tend to be less efficient to run once installed.
What are the Pros and Cons of Underfloor Heating?
This invisible source of warmth means you can plan the layout of a room without having to consider where you will have to place a radiator. Despite the range of modern radiators available, they can still create an eyesore in a minimalist style room. Underfloor heating can help you achieve a seamless finish in your room. While allowing extra space for other pieces of furniture you may wish to have.
Underfloor heating is more energy efficient as it only has to create a lower temperature to achieve the desired room temperature. The average running costs of these systems are typically 15-40% cheaper than conventional radiator systems. Most systems come complete with thermostatic controls for individual rooms. This will mean you won’t waste energy or money heating rooms that you don’t need to.
If you have your underfloor heating correctly installed initially, then there is little that can go wrong with these systems. The initial pressure testing that is carried out with hot water systems would identify any potential leaks. Therefore, these areas are rectified before the appropriate floor covering is placed on top.
Without any radiators in your room children can’t bump into any protruding edges or piping. This also removes the risk of young children or people with limited mobility burning themselves on the hot surface of a radiator. Underfloor heating also allows for more practical floor covering without them being cold. This can be useful for homes with children or pets or for bathrooms where spillages can be more easily cleaned.
Underfloor heating systems are known to produce less airborne dust in your room. This is particularly important for people with allergies and asthma.
Underfloor heating can be quite slow to warm up the room, especially in rooms with solid floor surfaces. Wooden floors can take up to 30 minutes to warm whilst concrete floors can take one or two hours. Therefore, you need to have your heating on for longer periods and also you must remember to switch the heating on in advance. A timer will help you with this problem so that you don’t have to wait for your room to warm.
When planning where you are going to position the underfloor heating you must consider the layout of your room, in particular where the units will be in a fixed position. This heating type can cause the inside of cupboards or units to ‘sweat’ which can be detrimental to your furniture. It is also worth making sure you select the correct wooden flooring type to compliment your underfloor heating as some woods can warp over time.
Difficult to Alter
Once your underfloor heating is in place it is a massive upheaval to change or adapt the system so it needs to be really well thought out and designed. It will take major work to remove if you aren’t happy with the system once it is installed.
Hot water systems are expensive to install initially. In addition, underfloor heating will be quite costly if you install it as an additional luxury to your current heating system. Running it alongside your main heating system will prove costly on your energy bills.
Underfloor heating is becoming more popular and despite the drawbacks, it is easy to see why with an ever growing need for more space in the home and people trying to be more energy aware. To be a truly efficient system, it will work best for properties that are already well insulated to enable the rooms to preserve the heat that is created. It is also worth considering for extensions or when creating an en suite space as it is easily installed when constructing a new room or building. Which type of underfloor heating you opt for is very dependent on your individual home or the type of property in which you wish to install it.
How do I install Underfloor Heating?
As long as you have some basic DIY expertise, you should be fine doing the majority of the installation yourself. With electric underfloor heating systems, you need to lay a flat base which is usually an insulated wood board. Then, simply roll out the heating mat and fix it before laying your flooring on top in the usual way. We recommend getting a qualified electrician to check over and approve the final installation, and carry out the final connection. For wet underfloor heating systems which connect to the boiler, extra steps need to be taken and we’d recommend contacting a plumber. Electric systems are easier to install and have the added benefit of being on a different connection to the rest of the house’s heating.
Here at Bella Bathrooms we have a range of underfloor heating systems that will be a valuable addition to your home, but more specifically will add a touch of luxury to your bathroom. Our underfloor heating systems are supplied with a 25 year guarantee which assures you that these are top quality systems for your home.