Underfloor heating systems are growing in popularity across the UK. It’s hardly surprising; it’s energy efficient, heats rooms quicker than radiators and leaves your feet toasty warm on even the coldest winter mornings. But for those of us that just can’t go without the feeling of a fluffy carpet between our toes, underfloor heating has always felt out of reach. But that’s not actually the case, as research shows carpet to be underfloor heating’s best friend.
What Is Underfloor Heating
Underfloor heating really is as simple as it sounds – instead of your heating system being based around radiators in each room, it is built into the floor, providing even heat distribution and some fabulous flooring options. Perfect for people who are prone to cold feet or just want to enjoy an efficient way of heating their home, underfloor heating is becoming a more popular option for new build homes and renovated properties. There are 2 types of underfloor heating; electric and water based. Electric underfloor heating works by installing a series of electric cables either under or within your flooring. These cables are connected to the electricity, which heats them up. They are also fitted with a sensor that allows you to control the temperature. Electric is the cheaper and easier to install option for underfloor heating and works with the most varied types of flooring. Electric underfloor heating works best when installed under laminate, vinyl flooring or carpets, as they retain and transfer heat particularly well, provided the materials are under a certain tog rating.
By contrast, water based underfloor heating works by connecting a series of pipes to your boiler, which circulates warm water throughout the floor to heat the room. This method is most popular in new projects, as it requires a lot of excavation and a framework within the floor to support the pipes. Space is needed to fit the water piping and relay the floor, so the floor level often ends up slightly higher than it was. Water underfloor heating works particularly well with the insulating and heat conductive properties of carpets providing the perfect material to carry the heat into the room.
The main issue a lot of people bring up when we talk about underfloor heating and carpets is insulation. Won’t the carpet essentially trap all of that heat, leading to scorching hot carpets and an incredibly cold house? Of course not! Research carried out by The Carpet Foundation and The Underfloor Heating Manufacturers Association (UHMA) proved that most carpets can be used over an underfloor heating system without impairing the performance of the system. The key is to get the thickness of the carpets right. If the carpet and the underlay combined reach a thermal resistance of 2.5 togs, then this may start to affect the efficiency of the system. All this realistically means is that super thick or shag carpets should be avoided, but your standard carpets will have no problems at all. To be ensure maximum efficiency, your underlay should have a low thermal resistance and your carpet should be hessian backed rather than felt to promote even heat distribution. You should also avoid a temperature above 27°C to avoid warping or heat damage.
While carpets may work with the vast majority of underfloor heating systems, we would advise you speak to both our carpet advisors and your underfloor heating advisors before making any purchasing decisions. Make sure you know the specifications you need for your carpet and have these checked by your heating supplier for appropriateness. Once you know this there is nothing stopping you from carpet shopping straight away. Now that you know which types of heating work best with which floors, the hardest part is going to be choosing the best design for your new high-tech floor!