A flooring material's thermal conductivity is an important consideration when determining the best flooring for underfloor heating in a bathroom. Thermal conductivity is how quickly and efficiently could the material transfer heat to the surface of the floor. Flooring with good conductivity heats up quickly and gives more heat output. Hence, such flooring materials are the best for underfloor heating. But this doesn't mean less conductive materials can't be used with underfloor heating. This article provides information on the best bathroom flooring for underfloor heating.
Floor Types That Are Compatible With Underfloor Heating
Tile and stone are some of the best types of floors to be used with underfloor heating. But a compatible radiant heating system can be found for every floor finish with some research on your part. Here are some of the most suitable flooring:
Types Of Flooring
Underfloor heating could be used under any type of floor. But you should know which floor finish to use with an efficient underfloor heating system. In fact, the thermal conductivity of the flooring material is an important consideration in this regard.
Tile, Stone, And Polished Screed
Tile & stone have a high thermal conductivity, which means the heat from the underfloor heating pipe transfers to the surface of the floor more quickly. Stone and tile also retain heat more efficiently. Tile and stone are great for use with underfloor heating in high heat loss areas like conservatories due to their excellent thermal properties. They can easily be heated up to 29°C in order to give a high heat output of up to 200W/m².
In fact, the thickness of the stone or tile has very little impact on the heat output. But it can definitely increase the heat-up time. So, you need to stick to a maximum thickness of 20 mm if you want a highly responsive system. Stone and tile floors are highly conductive and are considered some of the best flooring to use with underfloor heating.
Different types of wood flooring materials have different thermal properties. Hence, there are differences in their compatibilities for use with underfloor heating systems. The denser and thinner the floorboards are, the more suitable they are for use with underfloor heating systems due to the better heat conductivity. Engineered wood is considered the best type of wood flooring to use with underfloor heating systems. The material will perform better with changes in floor temperature. You can also use other soft and less dense wood flooring materials depending on the thickness of the material. You should pay close attention to the thickness of the boards so that they don't act as insulators that block the heat. A general rule of thumb for wood flooring is that the floor surface temperature shouldn't exceed 27°C.
Heating the floor will change the moisture content of the wood. Hence, you should opt for wood flooring that could adapt to the changes in temperature without changing the appearance of the floor. In fact, kiln-dried wood works best for floor heating. But you should check with the flooring manufacturer about their suitability for use with underfloor heating. Different wood flooring types can be used with underfloor heating systems. Pay close attention to the thickness of the boards so that they don't block the heat by acting as an insulator.
Engineered timber is considered the best wood flooring to use with underfloor heating systems. It performs well with changing floor temperatures as well as adapts to the changing moisture content.
Solid hardwood flooring is more prone to temperature changes and humidity. It could lead to cupping, gapping, and crowning over time. You should take care when using solid hardwood with underfloor heating systems. Make sure they are compatible and have a high enough heat output. The best thing is to check with the manufacturer about their suitability for use with underfloor heating.
Soft woods are ideal for use with underfloor heating systems. But you should consider the thickness of the floorboards to make sure there is high enough heat output.
Parquet floors are available in either engineered timber or solid wood. Most of these types are ideal for use with underfloor heating systems.
Bamboo floors are quite similar to engineered wood floors in construction. It's a very good conductor of heat. Hence, bamboo flooring is ideal for use with underfloor heating systems.
Installation Tips For Underfloor Heating With Wood Flooring
Wood is a natural material that's affected by the humidity of the ecosystem around the material. Hence, you should ensure the correct moisture content of wood flooring during the installation process. The correct heating cycle also plays an important role when installing underfloor heating.
Engineered timber could be laid directly over underfloor heating with batten/jointed or floating floor systems. Opt for floorboards less than 20 mm in thickness to provide suitable structural support. On the other hand, low tog underlays are usually recommended when installing these boards over screed.
Laminate flooring is a synthetic material that simulates wood. It provides a scratch and stain-resistant floor finish that is easy to lay and cost-effective. Most laminate flooring is suitable for use with underfloor heating systems. But you should check with the flooring manufacturer about their suitability before installation.
Vinyl flooring is safe to use with underfloor heating. The material can heat up and cool down very quickly. These materials are subject to a top floor temperature restriction - 27°C - which limits the heat output. Hence, they aren't recommended in high heat loss areas like an old conservatory.
Rubber flooring is great to use with underfloor heating. Solid rubber floors are extremely conductive. They heat up fast and offer a high heat output. You should consult the manufacturer to make sure the floor material is suitable with underfloor heating systems.
Carpet is ideal with underfloor heating systems provided the material doesn't act as an insulator and blocks the heat. The total tog of all carpet materials - such as under and overlays - shouldn't exceed 2.5 togs for the system to guarantee sufficient heat output.
Laminate and carpet are the best to use with underfloor heating. But you should make sure the total tog of all materials doesn't exceed 2.5 togs for the system to provide enough heat output.