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Complete Underfloor Heating Guide

underfloor heating pipes

Underfloor heating has many advantages despite a bad reputation long conveyed and sometimes still relevant in the minds of a certain number of people.

Are you building your own home or renovating? The choice of heating is a crucial question. To make your interior even more cozy, optimize space, reduce your energy bill or even reduce your ecological footprint, installing underfloor heating is THE solution.

Here’s our guide on everything you need to know about installing underfloor heating.

What are the advantages of underfloor heating?

The once real drawbacks of underfloor heating are no longer relevant today. Make way for the advantages provided by this heating method. What are they? Why choose underfloor heating? Discover the many advantages of this system.

  • Adaptability of underfloor heating
  • Equipment that adapts to all forms of energy
  • Floor heating systems adapt perfectly well to several heating modes: in their hydraulic version , you can couple them with an air / water heat pump, an oil-fired boiler, gas, wood and even solar energy. Some also run on electricity.

Optimal regulation

The regulation systems for heated floors have evolved a lot in recent years. You can program different temperatures according to the rooms thanks to a central system. To do this, each room has its independent floor heating loop, in order to be able to adapt to the desired temperature.

A versatile installation

The underfloor heating also offers the advantage of being able to be installed in any room of your house. Whether it is a construction or a renovation, its implementation is always possible. In addition, it is suitable for almost all types of coverings, although tiles or stone are ideal.

Comfort and underfloor heating

The most comfortable underfloor heating, undoubtedly the most comfortable heating method.

The underfloor heating is very comfortable

Underfloor heating is first and foremost more comfortable compared to traditional heating systems. Whether electric or water, the principle of underfloor heating and the sensations it provides are the same: it heats the entire surface of the floor and the indoor air at low temperature. The heat emitted is gentle and distributed harmoniously over the entire surface of the ground (between 21 ° and 28 ° C), eliminating the feeling of the cold ground, so unpleasant for our little feet on winter mornings, and is particularly beneficial for heating bathrooms without central heating which are notoriously hard to heat up.

This is only valid subject to the establishment of effective regulation. This will prevent the underfloor heating from continuing to operate when the temperature in the room has increased under the effect of the reflection of the sun on your bay windows, for example.

A silent heating mode

With this system, you will no longer hear your heating startup! Encapsulated in the concrete screed, or placed under your covering, the heated floor does not emit any noise pollution.

Underfloor heating is a hygienic system

We all know that conventional radiators trap dust and are very difficult to clean. Cleanliness freaks will no longer have this problem with underfloor heating! This does not retain dust, ambient microbes or humidity: it is a clean system that does not displace impurities during air circulation, which is also an excellent point for air quality interior.

Underfloor heating is reassuring and no longer hurts the legs

Underfloor heating has been the victim for several years of a bad reputation because it often causes inconvenience such as pain in the legs or swelling of the feet. These unpleasant effects were due to almost zero regulation of the underfloor heating, generating excessively high temperatures.

Today, the system has improved significantly and is no longer subject to these problems at all. Forget the feelings of “heavy legs” since it works at low temperatures. Combined with good regulation, underfloor heating no longer causes a hot/cold effect, the temperature is uniform throughout the room. Finally, the system being out of reach of the occupants, eliminates the risk of burns, especially for the youngest.

A system also appreciable in summer

Hydraulic underfloor heating can also be an asset during hot summer days. Indeed, by circulating cold water in its circuits, the underfloor heating can turn into an air conditioner and thus help to lower the interior temperature by a few degrees. This is called a heating-cooling floor

Savings and underfloor heating

Economical underfloor heating: 15% energy savings compared to traditional heating.

A financially interesting system

Underfloor heating is low-temperature heating and therefore: less energy-consuming than traditional solutions and more profitable in use, it allows you to do, you will also be able to save energy. You will benefit from a gentle, homogeneous, and better-distributed heat distribution than with traditional heating.

The temperature, identical from floor to ceiling, allows the average heating setpoint to be lowered by 3° C, without loss of thermal comfort. Thus, the desired temperature is reached more quickly, resulting in less energy consumption. There is an energy-saving of around 16% compared to traditional heating. The strongest in maths already appreciate the great savings in prospect!

Practical and invisible heating

Unlike radiators which are not always attractive and which take up space on a wall, underfloor heating can be forgotten. Placed in the ground, it is completely invisible, which not only brings a touch of aesthetics but also significant space-saving. Underfloor heating, therefore, has the good taste of increasing the useful volume of the rooms: a must for decoration enthusiasts!

Minimal maintenance and easy to use

The heated floor requires very little maintenance and is very easy to use. In fact, you just have to program it and the thermostat will do the rest. Everything is automated, so you won’t need to worry about turning it on or off.

How does the heated floor work?

When we talk about underfloor heating, we talk about underfloor heating. Unlike the radiator, which emits heat in a localized manner, the heated floor is a “distributed” emitter. Integrated into the floor of the house, it heats the whole room evenly. Underfloor heating works in practice via a network of electric cables or hydraulic tubes installed on the concrete slab of the house.

For the record, underfloor heating was invented by the Romans with the system of hypocausts (circulation of smoke from a fire under a masonry floor), achieving very high yields (practically all the energy of the wood was recovered).

The current systems, as we saw above, no longer have anything to do with the floor heaters of the 1960’s, which poorly regulated heat. With the arrival of the new low-temperature boilers, the water is heated to around 40 °C and travels the ground at your temperatures oscillating between 20 ° C – 23 ° C, giving a heat that is quite bearable and pleasant for the feet. Likewise, electrical systems are better regulated.

You will find on the market two types of underfloor heating concerning the heat source.

  1. Electric underfloor heating: a heating cable ensures the emission of heat.
  2. Hydraulic underfloor heating: water circulates in a network of pipes.

There are also two methods for laying the installation and for emitting heat.

Incorporation into a screed (electric cable or hot water pipe): the screed accumulates and harmoniously diffuses heat in the room.

Installation under a floor covering: an electric net or a pipe is placed in thinned insulating tiles. This method is particularly well suited during a renovation or for wooden floors.

Which system to choose: electric or hydraulic underfloor heating?

Electric underfloor heating or hydraulic underfloor heating? While both offer almost equivalent thermal comfort, they each have their own specificities. Focus on these two operating modes …

Electric underfloor heating

It is certainly the most common solution since it is the easiest to implement and maintain subsequently. This is a heating cable placed over the entire surface of your floors, concealed under a floor covering.

This type of underfloor heating is ideal for a renovation. More economical to install, it is however much more energy intensive in use. For its installation, it is imperative to provide dedicated lines because of the high powers required.

There are two types of electric underfloor heating: the electric radiant floor, economical, this is the process most often installed, and the electric storage heating floor, a system that can be installed on the walls, to be reserved for the most vulnerable regions. cooler.

Its advantages

It is easy to set up and use and does not require any maintenance throughout its lifetime.

On the downside

We will underline its significant consumption of electrical energy. Likewise, it will not adapt to all types of flooring.

Budget: from £40 per m²

Hydraulic underfloor heating

More expensive to install, hydraulic underfloor heating is however the most economical solution in the long term. Also called water floor (or hydronic), this type of installation is connected to the central heating by means of tubes through which the water will circulate. For new home constructions, this is the type of heating to be preferred, for a heavy renovation which involves redoing all the floors as well. Note, however, that it will require a little more maintenance than electric underfloor heating (check every 5 to 10 years).

Its advantages

It is very profitable in use and environmentally friendly. You can couple it to a heat pump or even to a device using solar energy.

On the downside

It is imperative that you provide for a check at least every 5 years or even sludge removal in the event of the appearance of cold areas in the circuit.

Budget: from £60 per m²

Refreshing floor

The wet floor is a reversible system that can also refresh you during the summer season. How? ‘Or’ What? During the summer, the coolant will absorb the excess temperature to direct it to a cooling system. The floor then becomes refreshing and keeps the temperature stable all year round. For this reversible function to work, the floor is connected to a chiller or a heat pump.

The cooling water underfloor heating is ideally combined with a heat pump or a boiler. If you opt for renewable energy, you have the winning ecological combination here!

Apart from the cost of installation, on the downside, we note its incompatibility with a small surface (such as bathrooms for example).

Budget: from £80+ per m²

How to choose your underfloor heating?

Now that you have all the advantages of this solution in mind, you are faced with this formidable question: electric or hydraulic underfloor heating, what to choose? Here are some criteria that can guide your decision.

Electric storage heating floor, for the harshest climates. There are heating-cooling floors known as “reversible floors” which operate with hot water in winter and cold water in summer.
Note: these require very good regulation to avoid condensation on the floor
The price criterion

It is often the one that guides our choice in the first place, but it should be borne in mind that the installation of a heated floor supposes a fractional investment: a first initial expenditure at the time of installation, then a more lasting one linked for consumption.

The cost of installing electric underfloor heating is around 50 pounds per square meter while the hydraulic will climb around 100 pounds per square meter, but the latter is more economical in use because less more energy-intensive than electric. The wet floor, therefore, wins in the medium and long term since it is much more profitable in use.

The floor area to be equipped

The installation of underfloor heating in all rooms of the accommodation is not necessarily essential. Auxiliary heaters can be interesting additions. As the work represents a certain cost, owners often prefer to install underfloor heating in the living rooms only.

The question of maintenance

If you don’t want to complicate your life with regular maintenance, electric underfloor heating is for you. As mentioned above, hydraulic underfloor heating will require a little more maintenance than electric. In fact, plan to check it every 5 to 10 years. However, in case of breakage of your electric underfloor heating, the repair budget will be higher because it will have to be completely replaced.

On the other hand, if the maintenance is minimal, the cost of repairing an electric underfloor heating in the event of a faulty line is high. You will have to either abandon the line or break everything to replace it entirely. This is a problem that becomes recurrent after 25-30 years of use.

In renovation, electric underfloor heating is often more suitable than hydraulic because it is easier to install.

Whatever the type, underfloor heating must imperatively be installed by a qualified professional, in particular for hydraulic underfloor heating, which requires perfectly controlled sizing and complex commissioning. Do not hesitate to call on our network of experts to carry out the installation of your underfloor heating.

A few things to know before installing a heated floor

Whether you are more electric or more hydraulic, here are a few points to keep in mind when making your choice

First of all, be aware that in the context of a renovation, the installation of a heated floor will have the effect of raising the floor by a few centimeters. It will then be necessary to adjust the doors whose opening could be blocked.

Note that you will also have an important choice to make in terms of flooring, in particular, to guarantee the good performance of the floor:

  • Tiles and natural stone are particularly suitable, in particular because they do not deform under the effect of heat and conduct it well.
  • The wooden parquet, solid or engineered, remains an option, but supposes an irreproachable implementation to avoid its bending under the effect of the heat and an informed choice of material.
  • Avoid maple or beech, which may crack, and choose blades that are not too wide (90 to 130 mm depending on the species and the thickness, which should not exceed 15 mm so that the heat can escape. broadcast correctly). If you want wide planks, it is better to go on engineered parquet.
  • Avoid carpets or coverings made of natural fibers: their insulating character will require more energy to be consumed to achieve an equivalent level of comfort.
  • Finally, forget about vinyl and laminate floors. Their low heat resistance and their synthetic composition are too incompatible with a heated floor.

In terms of interior design, be aware that the location of your furniture has an impact on the emission of heat from your underfloor heating. If it is diffused under a piece of furniture, it will indeed be blocked by it. So, if possible, use free-standing furniture.