As temperatures plummet and energy bills go up, there is no denying that winter has well and truly begun. But there's no need to worry about keeping out the cold this winter as underfloor heating offers homeowners the ideal solution to keeping warm.
Finding the right underfloor heating solution for your customer isn't always the easiest of tasks, and with many different applications and installation options available, figuring out where to start can be quite daunting.
But there's no need to worry because we are here to help! We can find you the best products for your project and at the best price. But first things first. Which underfloor heating option should you install?
Water Underfloor Heating
Often referred to as 'wet underfloor heating', water systems are a network of pipes that connect to a boiler, the system uses the warm water from the central heating to heat the floors. This UFH system can be connected to any boiler as long as it has sufficient capacity, however, connecting it to a condensing boiler will offer your customers the greatest cost savings.
The continuous pipes are laid onto a subfloor, this design of pipes eliminates the danger of leaks and makes the system generally maintenance free. If you are installing underfloor heating over a very large area, water systems are the best option.
Water underfloor heating is more costly to install than electric and can be disruptive due to the need for a floor level alteration, (low profile build up options as minimal as 18mm and sometimes even lower are available) however, wet systems are the most cost-effective solution as they use water at a lower temperature than a standard radiator.
Electric Underfloor Heating
Electric or dry underfloor heating systems are often the cheapest to install as there is less disruption to the existing floor structure. Advancements in technology mean that manufacturers can produce UFH mats that are so thin they are barely noticeable. Electric systems not only distribute heat more evenly across the floor but also reach a required room temperature faster than wet systems do.
The downside to electric underfloor heating is that it can be more expensive to run.
Underfloor Heating Installation Options
Depending on the floor construction, the installation process for your underfloor heating will alter slightly. It is very important for the underfloor heating to be installed with care ensuring it’s a ‘fit and forget’ system.
Solid floor construction
Plastic floor panels are used to form a simple grid. This type of installation is the fastest way of laying the pipes in a precise manner. Solid floor systems can incorporate 15mm / 16mm or even 18mm pipe. The pipes can also be stapled to insulation and fitted in a meander or spiral pattern depending on the design of the system.
Our range of low-profile underfloor heating products can be installed over existing solid or timber floors. The system can be connected to manifolds and controls just like our other floor heating systems. Alternatively, it can be connected to a zonal regulation (ZRU) unit for single room solutions.
Both the Overlay and Overlay Lite system are installed over existing floors and are only 18mm in depth. Overlay allows for installation where traditional underfloor systems would either require expensive excavation or the floor to be raised to an unacceptable level.
Our in house overlay systems use a 12mm pipe, however, we offer more bespoke low-profile systems as low as 15mm panels with 10mm pipe, or clipping systems with specialist minimum depth screeds to only 25mm in total floor height.
Overlay Lite is a high compressive lightweight and strong insulated panel. Best suited applications for Overlay Lite include laminate, engineered wood and carpet. Due to its ease of handling and cutting it is also more suitable for larger areas and multiple room installations.
Overlay systems use a 12mm pipe at 150mm pipe centre as they provide excellent response times and heat output and are ideal for both traditional heating and low-temperature renewable systems.
Suspended floor systems
This installation is the most common type of construction for upper floors. Aluminium single or double heat spreader plates are fitted between a joist system to ensure the heat is evenly spread across a finished floor surface and is suitable for joist widths of 300mm to 450mm. There is no floor build-up / insulate below to ensure no downward heat loss.
Suitable Flooring For Underfloor Heating
For concrete floors, installing an underfloor heating system usually consists of the plastic pipes being embedded with a layer of screed on top of a concrete subfloor. A depth of 65-75mm is usually laid and must be allowed to dry completely and naturally. At no point should the underfloor heating system be used to speed up the drying process.
It is extremely important that a gradual pre-heating is carried out once the screed is bone dry. Regardless of which screed is used to overlay the underfloor heating, the process is finished when the screed is completely cured. A wearing level surface is then installed to complete the project. Screed is more commonly used as it acts to diffuse the heat at an even temperature.
The nature and thickness of the carpet is fundamental to the impact of the underfloor heating. The underlay should have low thermal resistance. Felt underlay is not advised as it may block the heat making it inefficient. Carpets should ideally be hessian backed to enhance the performance of a UFH system. The temperature of the floor should never exceed 27°C. Typically the carpet and underlay should not have a combined tog rating in excess of 2.5.
Stone & Tiles
Natural stone is a perfect accompaniment to underfloor heating. Stone, reconstituted stone flags, marble and slate are all suitable as their high thermal mass makes them excellent conductors. Ceramic, terracotta and porcelain tiles are also compatible with UFH because just like stone, they hold excellent thermal properties. Tiles need to be laid with a high-quality flexible tile adhesive and grout. In many cases, an uncoupling membrane needs to be used to allow for movement.
Solid wood, engineered wood and laminate can also be used with underfloor heating. Using dense wood will provide the best thermal conductivity. However, it is important to take care when choosing wooden flooring as softwood may block the heat rather than transfer it. We would recommend the wooden flooring to be no thicker than 18mm.
Vinyl flooring can be sensitive to long-term exposure to heat, however, wet UFH is compatible with Vinyl. We would recommend that the floor temperature does not exceed 27°C. Karndean / Amtico / LVT type flooring manufacturers will always advise on the heat tolerance of their product and a floor probe can be installed to work with a programmable room thermostat to manage the floor temperature.
We Carry The Stock So You Don't Have To
As a family-run business with a strong emphasis on our core values we focus on providing our clients and your customers with a reliable, and trustworthy distribution service. Gone are the days of long delivery times and chasing manufacturers for product.
Working with E.Tupling means that our merchant partners can order stock off the shelf and receive it within 48 hours. In addition to our UFH stock levels we can also consult and advise on your project as no two UFH projects are ever the same. Working with key partners and manufacturers means we can perform as a leading industry distributor, but we do not always have to rely on stock to give you an immediate and accurate solution.
Our service is off the shelf or sourced to your specification. Unlike many other distributors, our staff are always on hand to offer you advice and guidance, our core values of trust and reliability are what allow us to consistently provide support for our independent plumbers and building merchants.
For more information on how you can become a merchant partner or for any advice and guidance on your underfloor heating project contact our team today on 0161 776 0077 or email us at email@example.com