Ever wondered what is the best type of flooring for underfloor heating? Today we are going to explain which we think are best and why.

But before that, you will first want to decide which type of heating system you will use. There are two systems of underfloor heating; electrical and water.

Electrical heating

Electric type underfloor heating

An electrical underfloor heating system consists of multiple sheets, mats or cables that are installed under the floor.
This type of system is very flat and so a lot easier to install than the water type. They are great for any type of installation but are usually more popularly used when installing retrospectively due to their nature.

 

Water heating

water type underfloor heating

For installing a water underfloor heating system, you must first have enough space underneath the floor for the pipework to fit. Unfortunately, in a lot of cases, this means you will need to elevate the floor level. This process can make it expensive and more complicated to install, especially if done so retrospectively.

 

Once you have decided, you can then move on to deciding which type of flooring is best for you.

The best types of flooring for underfloor heating

There is a wide variety of types of flooring that is suitable for use with underfloor heating. However, some are better than others and a few should be avoided altogether.

Stone and tiles
Thermodynamically speaking, stone and tiles are the best choices of flooring. This is because they thermally conduct the quickest and retain the heat for the longest. Different types of tile offer different levels of conduction and retention but they all top other types of flooring. See below for more information on which tiles are the best to use.

Engineered wood
Engineered wooden flooring consists of multiple layers of plywood with a layer of solid wood on top usually totalling 14mm. Our wood flooring range Millesime has the ability to be made to a thickness of 14mm should you require wood flooring.

It is a common choice not only due to its aesthetics but also as it performs well with changes in floor temperature. Due to the nature of wood, it should be noted that the temperature should not exceed 26 degrees Celsius.

lady walking on heated wooden flooring

Laminate & Vinyl
Often used in kitchen and bathrooms, laminate & vinyl are a more affordable option than other floor types. Many high-quality laminate and vinyl flooring types conduct heat very well, are easy to maintain and are great for areas in your home with a lot of footfall.

Thin carpet
Thin carpets, such as those under 2.5 tog, can also be used. It should be noted that carpet generally takes a lot longer to heat up but does, in fact, retain heat quite well. Because of this, you may not want to use carpet in rooms that rely solely on the underfloor heating as the heat source.

The types of flooring to avoid

Solid wood flooring
As much as we all may love the aesthetics of a solid wood floor, it is unfortunately not ideal for use with underfloor heating. This is because wood flooring is usually 18-22 mm thick and used as a natural insulator and as such will not conduct heat well. Heat causes wood to expand and once the heat has gone, the wood will then contract back which could lead to the wood warping. If this happens too much, there is a high probability of damage to the wood which could be difficult to rectify.

Cork
Some people will choose to use cork flooring as it is a more affordable and eco-friendly choice. Similarly to that of wood, cork is also a natural insulator. This means that using it over your heating system would lessen the impact of the heat and circulate it less. Exposing cork to electrical heat could cause it to dry out causing damage, whereas a wet system could cause the cork to take on excess moisture and cause damage that way.

Thick pile carpets
Some may see a thick carpet as the best choice of comfort, however, when it comes to underfloor heating, a thick pile carpet prevents efficient heat transfer. If you are sold on the decision of having carpet, then the underlay and carpet should not exceed 2.5 togs. Anything over this will inhibit the effectiveness of the heating system.

The best types of stone and tiles

bathroom tile heated flooring

As mentioned previously, stone and tiles are the best at thermally conducting heat and retaining heat for the longest. However, there are a wide variety of tiles available, so which is the best choice for you?

  • Slate – Slate is very strong and as such is a great choice for use in areas that are used the most. The conductive nature of slate makes it highly suitable for use in underfloor heating systems.
  • Marble – Although a visually appealing choice, marble is slower to heat up than other tiles. Natural marble can also be somewhat difficult to maintain, so we recommend giving this one a lot of thought. You could, however, opt to use a marble effect porcelain tile.
  • Granite – Granite provides a unique look and has a wide variety of colour choices available. It is a suitable and effective choice of flooring, however, it can be prone to cracking. We recommend researching your options of granite thoroughly before deciding if it is right for you.
  • Porcelain – Another very strong tile, porcelain is non-porous and so resilient to staining. Porcelain is one of the thinnest tiles available and as such makes it very suitable for use with an underfloor heating system.
  • Ceramic – Many of the properties of ceramic tiles are similar to that of natural stone. The thin profile of ceramic tiles creates an excellent heat transfer and they are a popular alternative to natural stone and slate.
  • Polished concrete – Concrete is a great conductor of heat and as such is a great choice of flooring. Concrete has become more and more popular over the years and is now used in both commercial as well as residential settings.

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