Underfloor heating is becoming ever more popular as an alternative to more traditional heating systems.  Due to the way they are installed, they cover a much larger surface area and so heat more evenly and more efficiently than a radiator system might.  They also allow more wall space in your home as you don’t need radiators or fireplaces.  They are ideal for stone or wood floors that can get cold during the winter months. If you are thinking of getting new hard flooring, installing underfloor heating at the same time should be a consideration.

There are two types of underfloor heating – Hot water, or wet systems and electric, or dry systems.

Wet system underfloor heating

A wet system works much like a radiator system, filling tiny heating pipes under your floor with hot water.  These pipes are covered with a heat retaining screed.  This is a type of flexible concrete that expands and contracts with heat.  This allows the pipes to grow and shrink as required during the heating and cooling process.  Once heated through, the screed retains the heat well and warms up your room from the bottom up.  This makes it as much as 30% more efficient that a traditional radiator system, though they do take some time to heat up.  They work more cost effectively than a radiator system too.  They use lower temperature water than radiators and so cost less to heat through.

Should you consider a Wet System?

Wet systems are a good option if you’re building a new property or doing a complete overhaul or renovation.  If not, you will need to completely remove the existing flooring in order to install a wet underfloor heating system.

Dry system underfloor heating

Traditional electric underfloor system works in a similar way to a wet system in that the electrical cables that provide the heat store is laid in screed.   But there are newer versions available.   These are made up of a thin mesh or heating mat of cables laid directly under the carpet or floor covering on top of insulated board.  Traditional dry systems are better suited to hard floors.  The newer dry systems are much easier to install and are better suited to thin floor coverings such as carpet and vinyl.  

While electrical underfloor heating systems are easier and less expensive to install, the running costs tend to be greater.

Both types of system have been rigorously pressure tested and developed to provide a reliable, long lasting heat source in your home or property. 

It is recommended that you use a professional to install either type of system.  Mistakes could be hugely costly to rectify.  This is because, once the screed is laid, you in effect have a concrete floor to remove should you need access to the pipes or cables.  Both systems also need to be connected to either a gas boiler system or electrical supply in order to operate.  Correctly laid, these systems require next to no maintenance and come with very long manufacturers warranties – some up to 30 years. The screed protects the traditional systems and the newer dry systems have the benefit of years of development and testing.  This ensures that they too will last for many years with next to no maintenance.

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