Are you considering installing an underfloor heating system in your home? Just think: a warm floor means walking barefoot will be a treat – no more cold feet!
Underfloor heating allows greater and more accurate temperature control than traditional central heating systems. Each room has an individual thermostat, unlike a central one found in central heating systems. This saves power and can save you a significant amount of money. Additionally, as it is all concealed, underfloor heating saves you the worry of finding a radiator that matches your room design scheme; in fact, you do not need a radiator at all! Underfloor heating will not gather dust, or exacerbate allergies in the same way radiators do, and, if properly installed, will not need maintenance.
Investing in underfloor heating can make a huge difference to your home, but how do you know which product is best suited to your home? The electric underfloor heating system you install will depend on the size, shape and level of insulation in your room, as well as your future plans.
Introduction to Your Options
The underfloor heating options we sell currently are loose wire (also called loose cable), sticky mats, and foil mats. These are all retro-fitting, which means that they can simply be laid over the existing foundations of your home, without needing to excavate the floor.
Our range of underfloor heating types comes in a variety of prices and wattages. Wattage measures heat output and unlike other heating systems, underfloor heating is measured in watts per square metre. The density of the heating cables determines the wattage, and the level of wattage you require depends on your heating needs – are you installing underfloor heating just to keep your floors warm, or as a heating method for the whole room? – and the level of insulation in your room. To heat a standard insulated room, a wattage of 140 or 150w/m2 is required, whereas to heat poorly insulated rooms, such as in period properties, conservatories and garages, at least 190w/m2 is required. The same can be said for rooms in which a lot of floor surface area is taken up by fixed furnishings, such as kitchens, as the heating area is therefore far smaller than the overall surface area you are trying to heat. In order to make your decision easier, here is a brief introduction to each of our underfloor heating types, and their best applications.
Loose wire or loose cable
Loose wire underfloor heating consists of a reel of heating wire, which can be spaced across the floor close together, or far apart, to create the level of heating that you desire. The closer the wires, the greater the level of heat reached, and the faster your room will heat up. Additionally, as the wires are not already set into mats, the cables can fit into small spaces and around objects, making them perfect for small rooms or rooms with fixed features, such as bathrooms. For these reasons, they are the most flexible option for underfloor heating, however they are the most time consuming to install as the cables need to be spread out and taped down by hand. Loose wire underfloor heating is suitable for all major floor coverings including tiled, stone, vinyl, carpet, wood and laminate, and will only raise floor height by a few millimetres.
If loose wire underfloor heating is your chosen option, and you are trying to heat a standard room, the Warmup Loose Wire Electric Underfloor Heating Kit – 150w/m2 could be the product for you. Available in a range of lengths, and with a choice of thermostat and insulation boards, this product is ideal for most rooms and homes, including bathrooms. If you are trying to heat a poorly insulated room, the 195w/m2 Vario Pro Loose Wire Electric Underfloor Heating Kit is the product to choose, and like the Warmup, has a series of customisable added extras.
Sticky mats can be used under all the same floor coverings as loose wire, but are different in that the cables are already pre-spaced and attached to a mesh mat, meaning all you need to do is roll out the mat, rather than individually lay wires. This reduces installation time, and is perfect for large, square rooms, however these mats are less straightforward to use in small or awkwardly shaped rooms.
Both loose wire and sticky mats require further preparations before laying your floor on top. This can include adhesives, levelling compounds and primers, depending on which floor type you are using. For more information about what you require for your floor, click here.
We stock two variations of sticky mat, the Warmup Sticky Mat and the Thermonet EZ. Both products are 150w/m2 but vary in the sizes, thermostats, and insulation options available. Therefore, they are not suitable for heating large, poorly insulated rooms, but would work perfectly in most insulated homes. They are also suitable for bathroom use. You can view these products here.
Foils mats are the most distinct of all our underfloor heating types. They are made up of a pre-spaced cable enclosed inside a foil mat. They are the easiest to install; all you need to do is unroll the mat over the floor, and, unlike sticky mats no adhesive layers need to be applied before the floor is laid over the top. However, as a consequence, this underfloor heating is only suitable for use with wood, laminate, carpet and vinyl floors. When installing a foil mat system under vinyl and carpet floors, a thin layer of MDF is required on top of the mat to prevent damage to the wires. This system is unsuitable for use with tile or stone floor coverings, as adhesive layers will not adhere to the foil surface.
We stock two brands of foil mat underfloor heating, both at 140w/m2, making them unsuitable as a primary heat source in large, poorly insulated properties. Additionally, they cannot be used to heat bathrooms. However, they are ideal to heat standard insulated rooms up to 30m2 and, as the initial product is cheaper per metre squared, this option may seem the most attractive. Tiles, stone and concrete make the best surfaces for underfloor heating, so if you are considering fitting your home with one of these floor types, we would recommend installing either a loose wire or sticky mat system to futureproof your home, mitigating the need to change your underfloor heating system should you decide to change your flooring.
All underfloor heating types can be DIY laid and prepared, however in all cases a qualified electrician is required to wire the heating cables into the thermostat, and then connect them both to the mains.
For further information regarding underfloor heating, visit our advice pages, or call our friendly customer services team.