Underfloor heating – what are the options?
Wood flooring with underfloor heating is becoming an increasingly popular choice; not just for aesthetic reasons and because it’s so lovely underfoot, but for lots of practical reasons too. It frees up wall space by replacing the need for radiators, it can be very energy efficient and it creates an even, ambient heat, removing cold spots.
In terms of the product choices, there are two main ‘traditional’ options – warm water and electric systems – and a brand new innovation, called Timbertherm.
Warm water or ‘wet’ systems – sometimes referred to as capillary systems – are generally chosen for renovations, as there’s a fair bit of upheaval during installation. They tend to be most popular in new builds and extensions, where there’s scope to revise floor heights in relation to doorways, etc. The systems basically take warm water from the central heating system and carry it around in plastic pipes under the floor. A screed is poured over the pipes and the wood flooring is then installed on top.
With electric systems cables or a heating element mat are installed underneath the wood flooring. The whole process is a lot cheaper and less disruptive, though running costs tend to be more expensive. There don’t tend to be any floor height issues, so it’s a good option if you’re just updating a room or replacing a floor.
Timbertherm – the third and newest option – is effectively a wood floor with the heat build in. Nano-carbon conductors, which radiate Far Infrared heat, are embedded into the floor’s plywood core layers. Like sunlight, the ‘smart’ heat produced warms objects, rather than the air, minimising temperature fluctuations and reducing heating costs. Because Timbertherm is installed just like a normal wood floor, there’s no lengthy subfloor preparation or floor height issues, making it suitable for home makeovers, as well as new builds and renovations.