If you’re thinking about installing underfloor heating, you can look forward to warm feet without the need for socks and slippers – but there are a few questions to answer first.

 Here’s our guide to planning and buying underfloor heating, to help you understand the decisions you need to make throughout the buying and installation process. 

What is underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating, sometimes called radiant floor heating, is an alternative to radiators and other types of central heating.

It allows you to get rid of radiators and wall heaters, and instead have a heating system that is hidden from view under the floor – a great option for minimalist interior design schemes.

How does underfloor heating work?

In general, underfloor heating works by conducting heat around the room under the floor. This heat then rises to give a consistent warmth across the whole floor, perfect for toasty feet, while helping to keep the ambient temperature in the room higher too.

Are there different types of underfloor heating?

There are two main types of system available, so your first question is whether to choose electric or water underfloor heating.

Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of each, as we take a quick look at water vs electric underfloor heating.

Electric-based system

Electric underfloor heating involves thin electrical filaments placed under the floor surface to carry heat around the room. These are cheap to install but cost more to run over the long term.

Water-based system

Water underfloor heating needs hot water pipes to run in a zigzag beneath the entire floor. The size of the pipes can lead to a slight increase in the floor height. But water-based systems are very efficient, with lower running costs over time.

So, which underfloor heating is best? If floor height is a concern, an electric-based system might be best. For bathroom underfloor heating, you might not want a mains electricity supply for safety reasons, so a water-based system is worth considering instead.

How effective is underfloor heating?

Underfloor heating is very effective. The heat rises from the floor, so you feel it sooner, especially if you’re barefoot on a surface like laminate flooring which is usually quite cold.

For water underfloor heating systems, you need a boiler, and these can be very effective too. The Heatrae Sadia Amptec Underfloor Boiler is one good example.

It’s an electric flow boiler with 99.8% efficiency and silent operation. You can adjust the water temperature directly on the boiler, and as well as wet underfloor heating systems, it’s compatible with conventional radiators too. 

What is the cost of underfloor heating?

We know radiant floor heating is an effective way to make your home more comfortable, but how much does underfloor heating cost?

The installation of underfloor heating is a one-off cost, and you may need to coordinate several different trades, notably the underfloor heating fitters and the electrician or plumber who connects the system to an electricity supply or boiler.

Water underfloor heating is usually cheaper to run overtime, but costs more to install. Installing underfloor heating that just uses electricity is easier and cheaper, but the running costs are higher. 

What are the advantages of underfloor heating?

Although underfloor heating is relatively rare compared with other methods to heat your home, the best underfloor heating systems offer some compelling advantages.

Energy efficiency

Underfloor heating is economical compared with other ways to heat your home. A controller like the Honeywell Evohome Underfloor Heating Controller can improve efficiency even further.

It allows you to control your underfloor heating in multiple zones, so you can heat different rooms as efficiently as possible.

Easy to run

Once installed, underfloor heating is easy to run, with a simple thermostat to adjust the temperature you want it to put out. Generally speaking it’s as easy as turning the heating on or off, and within just a few minutes you’ll start to feel the first of the warmth coming through.

Provides a huge level of comfort

Underfloor heating warms the room very consistently, so you’ll start to feel more comfortable very quickly. It does not create the convection currents normally seen with wall radiators, which can agitate dust in the room and cause allergies, so if you feel especially sensitive to house dust, underfloor heating could be part of the solution.

How is underfloor heating installed?

Installing underfloor heating requires some prep work, so the existing floor surface will be disturbed – by definition the installation of underfloor heating means you need to put it under the floor.

Electric underfloor heating is normally laid on top of a layer of insulation, which helps to prevent heat from being lost downwards into the Earth.

 Installing electric underfloor heating is then just a matter of laying out the electric filaments that conduct the heat around the room, and then laying your chosen floor surface on top.

Water underfloor heating is a little more complicated, as you’ll need to install the pipes that carry the water around your floor, along with a boiler or hot water supply to feed them.

Underfloor heating installations should be as flat as possible, so there is sometimes a self-levelling screed layer to put in place at the start of the project, with the heating system then laid on top.

Can I use any floor covering with underfloor heating?

In most cases, yes. Underfloor heating can be laid beneath stone and tile floors, wood floorboards, vinyl and laminate, and even under the carpet.

Be aware that water underfloor heating systems may raise the floor level slightly in order to accommodate the pipework, so you might prefer to use a thinner floor covering rather than, for example, natural stone pavers that raise the floor even further.

Your choice of floor covering may also affect how much of the underfloor heating you can feel on the soles of your feet. If you want to feel as cosy as possible, choose a flooring material that will conduct the heat from below to a good degree.