Choosing the Best Flooring for Underfloor Heating


flooring for underfloor heating


There is no clear advantage to one form of flooring for underfloor heating over the other; your choice depends on how much you value the relative merits of each.


Different Floor Types

1. Engineered Wood Floors

Engineered wood contains a slice of natural wood on top while laminate uses a photographic layer that is coated with a protective layer. Laminate is also much thinner than engineered wood, averaging around 12mm, whereas engineered wood tends to be thicker like hardwoods.- around 18 to 20mm.

engineered wood

Overseas factories process engineered wood flooring. They treat and coat the wood before it makes way to New Zealand. It arrives ready to lay straight away and doesn’t require any further sanding or oiling on installation (unlike solid wood flooring). We have published a comprehensive guide for underfloor heating on wood floor builds.

Made from 100% real wood, engineered wood flooring comes in two variations. The first being multi-ply – a hardwood top layer with a plywood backing. The second option is a 3-ply solution consisting of two backing layers of spruce or birch, finished with a top layer of hardwood.

Engineered Pros

  • Engineered hardwood flooring is designed to reduce the moisture problems associated with conventional hardwood.
  • Its layers block moisture and provide added stability to your floor.
  • Flooring will not swell or warp, making it very low maintenance.

2. Vinyl Tiles Floors

Modern vinyl flooring boasts the benefits that always made vinyl a popular choice without the dated colours and old-fashioned prints. Today, vinyl floors are incredibly versatile and beautiful. Laid as vinyl planks or luxury vinyl tiles, they can look indistinguishable from hardwood floors, but they can also stand out in their own right.

vinyl tiles

Vinyl planks and tiles come in unique patterns and designs – from pebbles to florals, colourful stripes to black and white zig zags – letting you decide whether to turn your floor into a bold feature-piece or keep it simple and timeless. It’s this versatility that is turning vinyl into one of the most popular flooring options for homes and businesses.

Benefits of Vinyl

Originally favoured because it was durable and affordable, today’s vinyl flooring has many additional benefits.

  • Vinyl is easy to clean.
  • There are fewer seams in vinyl planks and tiles than on timber floors.
  • Quiet underfoot flooring.
  • Non-slip options, great for commercial spaces, or rest homes.
  • Little waste with luxury vinyl tiles, making it an eco-friendly flooring option.

3. Laminated Floors

This synthetic floor simulates wood and offers a stain and scratch resistant floor finish. It’s easy to lay and a cost-effective solution. Most laminates are suitable for use with underfloor heating, but it is advisable to check with the flooring manufacturer before installing the system.

laminate flooring

4. Carpet Floors

Carpet is suitable for use with underfloor heating, provided that the material of the carpet or underlay does not act as an insulator blocking the heat. The total tog of all materials, including any under and overlays, must not exceed 2.5 togs in order for the system to provide sufficient heat output.

carpet flooring


Essential Factors to Consider

Floor Temperature & Flooring Type

The floor temperature also directly affects the heat output where, the higher the desired floor
temperature, the higher the heat output required from the floor. Not all floor finishes can, however, be heated to a high temperature, so it’s important to note this is dependent on the floor finish you choose.

Dense and solid materials such as tile and stone have good thermal conductivity, meaning the heat can better be transmitted from the heating to the floor surface. Tile and stone can also be heated to 29+°C to provide higher output. Soft floor materials such as wood, laminate, linoleum have comparatively poor conductivity and can only be heated to 27°C degrees, meaning a certain maximum heat output, depending on the size of the heated area.

The higher the floor temperature, the greater the heat output, but some floor finishes have a top temperature restriction. It is always best to check with the flooring manufacturer.

Floor Heat Up Time Duration

The choice of flooring material affects the heat up time, due to different thermal mass and conductivity. The lower thermal mass and higher the conductivity, the quicker the heat from an underfloor heating transfers onto the floor surface. However, this also means that materials with low thermal mass cool down faster than materials with high thermal mass. The responsiveness of a system can be improved by using insulation boards to promote the transfer of heat.

Thermostat Choice

Most modern thermostats control the floor temperature based on either air or floor temperature. They utilise an air or floor probe in measuring this. As the thermostat switches the heating “on or off”, its accuracy, as well as the probe’s accuracy, can have a significant impact on the heat output. Hotwire thermostats offer dual air and floor sensing.

This is relevant especially in bathrooms where the desired room air temperature is relatively high, say 23°C degrees (compared to the usual room temperature of a living room of 21°C.) Poor controls or poorly placed thermostat probes can lead to under and overheating rooms and in severe circumstances, even damage the floor finish so investing in a high-quality thermostat is advisable.

The Hotwire Glass Touch provides accurate temperature control and can provide massive operational savings.

Floor Insulation and Savings

The heat output to the floor surface can be significantly increased on concrete substrates by using insulation. One great example is the Hotwire Insulate underfloor heating.

Wattage Design

The maximum power of the system is normally specified in Watts per square metre.  The power of a Hotwire underfloor heating system ranges from 150-180W/m². The system typically cycles at 50% so half of the time the room is used, thus using only half of the design wattage and related operational cost. It's effective for well-insulated floors and reasonably modern homes.


Best Flooring for Underfloor Heating

The main difference between different flooring materials suitability is the material’s thermal conductivity. This means how quickly and efficiently heat generated transfers to the floor surface. The best flooring for underfloor heating is flooring with good conductivity as it heats up quicker. As a result, it gives more heat output and is more efficient to run. However, this does not mean that less conductive materials could not be used with underfloor heating.

Many choose wood or laminate flooring for their homes to create a warm and cosy ambience to a room. Now you can take that look and physically introduce that warmth through your home by installing The Heating Company Wood & Laminate Electric Underfloor Heating solutions.