How to install underfloor heating

There's nothing worse than stepping out of a warm shower or hot bath onto cold flooring, but there's a simple solution that will make bath time all the more relaxing – underfloor heating!

The best bit? You can install it yourself, making it the perfect DIY job. The reward? A long soak in the tub knowing you'll step out into a cosy space.

 

Why choose underfloor heating

Simply put, underfloor heating systems are the cleaner, smarter way to heat your home. Using radiant heat technology, UFH warms the room from the ground up, helping to distribute heat evenly. The radiant heat technology means that underfloor heating systems are much more energy efficient and require less maintenance than traditional forms of heating.


Because underfloor heating systems are hidden, you'll no longer have radiators encroaching on valuable floor and wall space – although, we can't do away with a heated towel rail entirely! They can also be retrofitted in older houses, as well as installed straight away into new builds, making them perfect if you're renovating your whole house or just updating the odd room.


You'll also find when you install underfloor heating that your home is cleaner. Warm floors create an inhospitable environment for dust mites – a common cause of year-round allergies and aggravator of asthma sufferers.

Different types of underfloor heating

There are two types of underfloor heating systems, electric (aka 'dry') and water-based or hydronic (aka 'wet') systems. Both provide heating in a room from the floor up for consistent, efficient warmth. Wet systems run hot water through pipes to create heat, whereas electric underfloor heating heats wiring beneath the floor to generate heat.


Traditional radiators need to be heated to a high temperature (between 65-75 degrees Celsius) in order to heat up a room effectively, whereas floor heating only needs to run at a temperature of 29 degrees Celsius or less, depending on the floor finish. This consumes less energy and keeps your energy bills far lower.


Electric systems are easier to install and anyone with a bit of DIY knowhow can fit them. All you need to do is purchase an underfloor heating kit. Wet systems tend to be more expensive and take longer to install. They also need to be fitted by a trained underfloor heating engineer.

How to lay electric underfloor heating

As we've already mentioned, a wet system tends to be more problematic to install than an electric system because of the general complexity of the system. It often means that the floor of the room has to be raised to accommodate it. Because electrical systems are more compact, the raising of the floor (if required at all) will be minimal.


Follow these simple steps for your underfloor heating installation.


1. Pull up the floor and clean the subfloor

If you’re retrofitting, the first thing to do is pull up the floors and ensure that the subfloor is clear. Ensure that the subfloor is clear of any debris which might pose a risk to your heating system. Simply file or cut away any sharp edges in the area so that there is no risk of damage to the pipes once they are installed. In many properties, a damp proof membrane will need to be added on top of the subfloor.


2. Lay the insulation

First, lay your underfloor heating insulation and ensure that it does not contain any large gaps. Place the insulation as neatly as possible and tape the joints to prevent screed from making its way underneath.


3. Lay the underfloor heating mats

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for laying heating mats. Make sure the wires are spread evenly across the entire area that you want to heat. You will also need to install a floor sensor to provide a temperature reading to your thermostat; this should ideally be placed close to the wall on which the thermostat is installed. A qualified electrician should complete the connection of the system to the electrical mains if you're unsure.


4. Cover the heating system in a layer of screed

Screed helps improve the system's performance by keeping the heat insulated. First, make sure that the insulation is flat and the mats are securely fastened. Next, lay sand and cement screed around 75mm thick on top of the mats. Allow the screed to dry naturally before the heating system is turned on, otherwise it may be damaged. This process should take no more than seven days.


5. Warm the system up slowly

Test your underfloor heating system before use by turning it on at low temperatures. As long as everything is connected correctly, and you the screed is dry, there should be no problems. However, turning the system up to full heat straight away can cause damage, so it should be increased slowly the first time.


6. Fit your flooring

Once you've installed your underfloor heating system you can finish off your project by installing the flooring. For bathrooms and kitchens, we love a tiled finish. Whether you opt for a traditional grey marble effect, or a rustic wood porcelain plank as a nod to the Scandi trend is up to you!


Are you looking for more bathroom inspiration to complement your underfloor heating? Download our latest brochure and find your dream bathroom scheme.