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How to install underfloor heating
by
Checkatrade

underfloor heating electricalUnderfloor heating is the perfect combination of technology and comfort. While radiators are efficient for heating your home, they can be unsightly and take up a lot of space. The beauty of underfloor heating is that it’s completely invisible, while still keeping your home lovely and warm.

Plus, underfloor heating spreads warmth throughout larger spaces with a constant, gentle trickle of heat no matter where in the room you are. With two different options to choose from, wet or dry underfloor heating, you can pick the best set up for your living space.

Perfect for bathrooms, underfloor heating adds a level of luxury. Cold tiles can be shocking after having a lovely relaxing bath, whereas underfloor heating will keep your feet happy and allow that feeling of tranquillity to extend from your bath or shower.

Want to save on expensive labour costs and try your hand at a more challenging DIY project? Consider laying underfloor heating yourself. We will talk you through how to install underfloor heating step-by-step, so keep reading to learn more.

Types of underfloor heating

As we mentioned previously, there are two main types of underfloor heating; wet and dry.

Wet underfloor heating uses pipes to connect to your central heating. The pipes then carry hot water snaking beneath the floor of your home, giving out heat as they go.

Dry underfloor heating uses electricity to heat a room and is comprised of electrical coils running under the flooring in your home. This can mean a less invasive installation than wet underfloor heating as it uses thin wiring rather than piping.

Want to learn more? Our underfloor heating cost guide is filled with fantastic tips, as well as prices for professional installation.

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Can I fit underfloor heating myself?

The simple answer is yes, however both installation methods can be tricky for beginners to follow. In addition, you will need to hire a professional to make the final connections and check they have been safely installed.

Please note, if at any point during the installation process you are unsure how to proceed, or if you make a mistake you cannot rectify, it may be time to hire a tradesperson to take over. Always ensure you stay safe and don’t try to ‘wing it’ as this is when accidents happen. Use our free search feature to connect to a trusted, skilled professional in your area.

How to install underfloor heating systems

Wet underfloor heating

Before you begin it is essential to properly prepare the space and gather your tools and materials. This step is essential to ensure the installation process runs smoothly and you don’t need to run out to the DIY shop mid-project.

Preparation

Firstly, you will need to pull up your current flooring, this can be a time-consuming job, so ensure you leave plenty of time for this. Ensure the area is clear, clean and ready for installation before beginning. This is a good time to lay insulation and a damp proof membrane if necessary.

Installation

  • Attach the heating pipe to your manifold.
  • Lay the piping as instructed by your underfloor heating system manual. This will usually follow a looping pattern, which will ensure the whole area is covered evenly.
  • As you lay the piping, use pipe staples to fix everything in place.
  • Once you are satisfied with the placement, contact a professional to make the final connection and check the safety of your insulation.
  • Next, pressure test the pipes and make sure they contain water before laying your screed.
  • Using self-levelling screed, gently pour this over your underfloor heating, ensuring the entire room is covered.
  • Use a chemical spray to stabilise your poured screed.
  • Don’t forget to tamp your finished screed to ensure a nice even finish.
  • Finally, lay your new flooring.

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Dry underfloor heating

As with wet underfloor heating, the area will need to be prepped and you should ensure you have all the tools and materials you need to hand. We have chosen to use underfloor heating mats for simplicity.

Preparation

Dry underfloor heating also requires you to remove your old flooring. Again, prepare the space by removing any debris and adding insulation and a damp proof membrane if necessary.

Installation

  • Using underfloor heating mats, lay them out covering the whole space to ensure an even distribution of heat.
  • Hold them in place using double-sided tape.
  • Install a floor sensor, connecting it to your thermostat. This should be placed at floor level.
  • Attach the sensor in place using tape.
  • This is the time to call in an electrician, to check the safety of your new system and make the final connection.
  • Next, you will need to screed the floor as described in the wet underfloor heating installation instructions.
  • Finally, lay your chosen flooring.

How to install underfloor heating with combi boiler

After learning about installing the two types of underfloor heating above, you may be wondering how to install underfloor heating with a combi boiler. Actually, wet underfloor heating is perfectly compatible with combi-boilers so don’t worry that this will affect your installation.

The only difference, when connecting to this type of boiler, is you may need to install a two-port valve. This will ensure the rest of your radiators and your underfloor heating each operate on their own valve.

How to install underfloor heating on concrete floor

Concrete is an excellent choice for underfloor heating as it smoothly transfers heat from your underfloor heating system through to the room itself. The first step of learning how to install underfloor heating on concrete is insulation.

It is essential that when working with a solid floor like concrete you take the time to properly insulate before laying the underfloor heating. If you do not, the underfloor heating will not be as effective.

We would recommend using a damp proof membrane to protect your floor from rising damp (see our damp proofing cost guide for more tips). Next, lay polystyrene boards to further insulate your underfloor heating. Once this has been done, follow the step-by-step instructions from our ‘how to install underfloor heating systems’ section above.

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How to install underfloor heating under wooden floorhow to install underfloor heating under wooden floor

Not only do wooden floors greatly increase the aesthetics of your home, but they also fit in with any design scheme. Combining underfloor heating with timber flooring gives your home a comfortable feel and look, a great combination.

Wondering how to install underfloor heating under a wooden floor? Firstly, it is important to choose the right type of timber. Some woods don’t react well to being heated so it’s always important to check this before buying. For example, engineered wood works a lot better with underfloor heating than hardwood, plus it is more durable.

Finally, always leave a gap for expansion between your wooden flooring and the walls around the perimeter. Timber can contract and expand so not leaving any gaps could prove disastrous. Taking these points into consideration, go back up and follow our ‘how to install underfloor heating systems’ section.

How to install underfloor heating under vinyl

Vinyl flooring is affordable and waterproof, making it an excellent choice for those on a tight budget or with pets. In addition, vinyl works well with underfloor heating, although it is worth checking with the vinyl manufacturer to make sure your particular choice is compatible.

It may be the case that you need to keep your underfloor heating on low to prevent any issues with the vinyl flooring. Due to this your underfloor heating will not sufficiently heat rooms with poor insulation, such as conservatories. If this is the case, it could be worth choosing another type of flooring or heating system.

Learning how to install underfloor heating under vinyl is simple. Just ensure you allow the vinyl to acclimatise to the room’s environment for at least 24 hours before laying. Apart from that essential step, just follow the instructions in our ‘how to install underfloor heating systems’ section.

How to install underfloor heating under tileshow to install underfloor heating under tiles

As a solid surface, tiles make an excellent choice for use with underfloor heating. In addition, tiles are waterproof, easy to clean and come in a variety of different colours and styles. Perfect for use in bathrooms and kitchens, tiles conduct the heat from underfloor heating and disperse this throughout any space.

In addition, tiles can retain the warmth from your underfloor heating system, increasing your home’s energy efficiency. Ceramic tiles are the best choice for use with underfloor heating and it is essential you properly insulate your floors before installing your new heating system. After insulating, just follow the steps in our ‘how to install underfloor heating systems’ section.

How to install underfloor heating under laminate

Laminate flooring makes for beautiful, authentic rooms with a wide range of benefits. Laminate is easy to clean, can be affordable and perfectly mimics more expensive, natural flooring. This stylish flooring is also compatible with underfloor heating as it isn’t susceptible to warping from heat.

It is important that you remember to leave expansion gaps of approximately 1.5cm between the flooring and the outer edges of your rooms. Otherwise, simply follow the step-by-step instructions in our ‘how to install underfloor heating systems’ section.

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FAQs

Is it expensive to run underfloor heating?

It is actually cheaper to run underfloor heating than radiators. In fact, taking into account the many benefits of underfloor heating, including even distribution of heat and toasty warm flooring, underfloor heating beats radiators hands down.

Can underfloor heating be controlled from a smartphone?

Yes, but you will need to purchase the correct technology first, including a hub. Then you will be able to change the temperature of your room from any smartphone.

If I install underfloor heating throughout my home, will I be able to pick different temperatures for each room?

As long as you install the necessary hardware, you can set varying temperatures from room to room.

Why are there two different types of mats, one for timber and one for concrete floors?

This is because concrete and timber absorb heat at different rates, therefore each type of flooring requires a different underfloor heating wattage.

Why are some cables on a mesh mat and others are not?

Underfloor heating mats are much easier to install, so are perfect for beginners. However, these mats can be less effective at heating thicker flooring like concrete.

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